Machen MacDonald
Special to The Union

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October 22, 2012
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MacDonald: Reach in before you reach out

Raise your hand if you enjoy making prospecting calls or following up on less than warm sales leads.

Yeah, that’s pretty much what I expected. Not a lot of people, let alone sales people, enjoy doing so. However, if you are in professional sales of any kind and that includes small business owners and entrepreneurs, you need to form solid prospecting habits if you are to grow your business. One of those habits is dialing the phone to get appointments with prospective clients.

This is one critical activity I rarely see making it onto the over-jammed calendar or to-do list of the busy executive. The creativity that goes with the myriad of excuses as to why they can’t make the time to make prospecting calls is nothing short of amusing.

Rather than looking at how to generate new leads, let’s focus on clearing out the inventory of “China eggs” you may be shuffling through in the stack of leads you have on your desk or populated fields in your automated customer relationship management (CRM) system.

Part of the problem of not making the calls needed is you hallucinate just because you have a stack of leads that when push comes to shove you can make something happen. The challenge is, should you wait until you are under that kind of pressure, you will most likely choke.

Try this, get a system and build a habit. You see those people that are super successful in sales don’t necessarily enjoy making those calls either. However, they have made it their habit. As was once said by Albert E.N. Gray: “Successful people make it a habit of doing the things unsuccessful people are not willing to do.”

Try the habit of reaching within yourself and tapping into your resourcefulness before you reach out to make the call.

Rather than having the habit of associating to the imagined pain of rejection from a prospecting call gone wonky, start to build the habit of associating to how you will actually be able to help the person on the other end that is ready to be helped. By the way, not everybody is ready to be helped. You are looking for the ones that are ready.

I have found that many people don’t know what to say when they finally do get a hold of a person and they end up talking about everything but the reason for which they called.

By the way, these tend to be the same people that balk at memorizing a calling script. I suggest you set some time aside and develop key talking points that you memorize. Pay attention — these talking points should really be questions that engage the client and get them talking about themselves and their situation as it relates to your product or service improving.

Be clear of the purpose of your call. The first call is about an introduction, establishing rapport and hopefully getting permission to meet or at the least permission to stay in touch and thereby continue deepening the rapport that will lead to a meeting.

People who fear making the calls have a habit of focusing on situations that did not unfold on a favorable basis causing themselves to freak out and retreat. Those that have developed the calling habit tend to focus on episodes that have gone well and cause themselves to feel good and optimistic.

People who avoid making the calls operate in an environment that doesn’t support effectively making calls. They are in a loud or cluttered environment. Effective prospectors relocate themselves to a calm area free of interruptions and distractions where they can stay focused.

Those that struggle with calling have trouble locating numbers and background notes from how they were introduced or discussions they’ve had that could be helpful. Effective callers keep such important data organized in one easy to access location and have it at the ready during their calling session.

People who don’t make calls don’t do so because it’s not in their calendar and they kid themselves they’ll make the calls when they have time later. The problem is, later never arrives. Top sales people build the habit of carving out set times on set days each week to make their designated calls and they keep that time sacred.

This week, build your talking points. Memorize your talking points. Set time in your calendar to make your calls. Find a calm area to make your calls.

Before you make your calls, engage your thoughts to situations having gone well and tap your resourcefulness.

Make your calls and keep good notes. Organize and file those notes for easy access for your next scheduled calling session.

Enjoy the benefits of having reached inside before reaching out.

Make it up, make it fun and make it happen!

Machen P. MacDonald is a certified life and business coach with ProBrilliance Leadership Institute in Grass Valley. He can be reached at coach@probrilliance.com and (530) 273-8000.


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The Union Updated Oct 25, 2012 09:50AM Published Nov 9, 2012 07:42AM Copyright 2012 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.