The wrong opening statement can actively repel even the most open and agreeable of customers. So if you ever find yourself starting a conversation with “how are you today?” – stop it!
Why? Because it reminds your customers of all those annoying dinnertime interruptions they’ve gotten over the years from telemarketers looking to sell them something they don’t want or need. Are you a telemarketer? I didn’t think so. And even if you are, stop sounding like one!
Try opening with this rapport-winning phrase instead: “Did I catch you at a bad time?” This has worked exceptionally well for me, because it points out the obvious, and that makes the customer laugh. Of course it’s a bad time! Any non-scheduled call is an interruption. But by admitting that fact, you can begin to build rapport, and start your conversation off on a high note.
Script your “Opener” right now. If you’re stuck for ideas, re-read our article on 5 Steps to Cold Calling that Won’t Leave You Out in the Cold.
The bottom line: Treat all your customers the same, and the best will go away
Finally, since we’re talking about sales mistakes in prospecting, we can’t forget our real customers – the people who are paying us now. What are you committed to doing this year to make sure your best clients stick around?
Here are a few great ideas gathered during a recent sales goal planning session I did with some clients:
- Build genuine relationships, go beyond asking common questions, and dig for real emotional issues.
- Take the time to schedule “in person” meetings as often as possible. The telephone and email are productive tools, but nothing builds rapport as well as a handshake and eye contact.
- Be willing to offer your Gold customer something unique and of added value – a better service, a guarantee, faster turnaround time or a volume discount.
- Get in touch with your customers every 6 weeks, and always call or send them something of value first – don’t call just to see whether they’re ready to order more product.
- Send a note or other recognition on the anniversary of the date they started doing business with you, or even better, on their company’s anniversary.
- Send your best customers referrals to potential clients and partners.
Dedicated to increasing your sales,