Are you someone who has become so reliant on e-mail and social platforms that you rarely use the phone? As an early adopter of technology myself, I get very used to corresponding with prospects, clients, and others by e-mail, Twitter, LinkedIn messages and through Google+ comments. That leaves a great gap though, because the phone is still one of the BEST ways to reach those you'd like to communicate with.
The phone can be one of the quickest ways to reach someone in business. Because people don't take as many phone calls as in the past, sometimes it can be invigorating if the person at the other end has something brief to say that adds tremendous value.
Try this B2B sales experiment I call 28 Partner Call and see if you don't agree about the power of the phone:
1. Get a Post-it Weekly Planner (these are great for prospecting notes if you are visual).
2. Make a list of 28 strategic partners - people who can refer you multiple business opportunities. Why 28? Each page holds a space for 28. If you are an overachiever, make 56 calls and use 2 sheets.
Strategic partners are people who trust you, who know what it is that you do, and they come into contact with people and companies who can use your products and services.
Example: A colleague, Melissa, is a presentations coach who also does Myers-Briggs assessment training with corporate clients. She does no sales training or sales coaching. She and I both work with mid-market (or larger) companies in New England. It is smart for her and I to talk periodically because each of us can refer business to the other. The same holds true even if you are in a corporation calling on Fortune 100 companies - who do you know that also works in your space but does not do what you do? That's your potential partner.
3. Put your list in any order - have access to phone numbers either right on the list, or in your CRM system.
4. Now CALL them. Yep, try for 5-6 calls per day. Say something like, "Hi Melissa - I thought I'd actually pick up the phone and give you a call to re-connect. Please get back to me and let me know what you are working on" or, "I thought of you this week when I spoke to someone who is putting on a presentation skills session..." etc. - just have a reason. Maybe they have updated their website, or made an interesting comment in social media.
Always lead by adding value, and remember that these calls are about THEM, not you. Once they ask, offer them a story about a recent new client success, or about a new service or product you've added. Thank them for their time, and be upbeat and interested in them.
5. The nice thing about the Post-it Weekly planner is that it comes with the small Post-it Notes to write on. Put a name from each call onto a note as you either dial or complete a call - and you'll see the page fill out. For all of you visual people, you'll feel like you've accomplished something once you do a page or two of these. It's simple, quick and easy. Gotta love that.
6. In your CRM system, set a next action for each one that you talked to. If you found a way to help them, such as give them feedback on their blog or if you had an idea for a prospective customer for them, note that and set a follow-up date.
7. When you are done, put the pages away and pull them back out every 60 or 90 days, depending on the results you need and your industry, sales cycle, etc. Regularly share insight and ideas to add potential value. Contact us directly if you need help with this step.
Almost NO ONE does this sort of follow up on a regular basis - nearly no-one, even though it adds revenue to the bottom line. Stand out from the noise and the crowd in selling just by being good at adding value and following through. You are going to be stunned at the response once you do it over time with the same contacts.
Take the challenge, and share your success stories! We will post about them.
Lori Richardson is recognized as one of the "Top 25 Sales Influencers for 2012" and one of "20 Women to Watch in Sales Lead Management". Lori speaks, writes, trains, and consults with inside and outbound sellers in technology and services companies. Subscribe to the award-winning blog and the “Sales Ideas In A Minute” newsletter for tips and strategies in selling.