There are few things as dreaded as making cold-calls as a salesperson. This blind, virtual, door-knocking is an incredibly frustrating and nerve-wracking undertaking. You’ll find seminars, books, videos, self-help guides and more all focused on improving the cold calling process. Some claim incredible benefits from cold calling while others emphatically insist this practice is pointless.
This post is not on the merits of cold-calling. In fact I want to draw your attention to another important step in the sales process that too often gets overlooked and neglected. I want to discuss how you can improve your sales process by defining goals and using these goals as a metric by which you define and measure your success as a salesperson. Now that sounds fairly typical, but let me break it down a bit more.
One phrase that’s commonly used among sales people (if this describes you don’t worry I won’t ask for a show of hands), is the popular phrase, “Just checking in.” or “touching base” or even “following up”. These phrases are the exact opposite of a goal-driven sales approach. I’ll explain what I mean.
“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”
- Benjamin Franklin
Whenever you find yourself using one of these fallback phrases here is what you are really doing. You are attempting to keep a connection open with a potential customer. You are making an attempt to look active and appear engaged. But it’s a weak attempt. These type of touch points don’t encourage any action or behavior from your lead. These phrases don’t illicit any response. They are not goal driven expressions. Instead, here are 3 ways to improve your sales process and marketing efforts by using a goal-driven approach.
Goal Driven Phone Calls
When you’re on the phone with a potential lead you want to use phrases, questions, and conversation that nurtures the lead closer to making a decision. Your questions should be goal driven not merely touching base. When you ask someone how they are doing you ask them for a general status update. When you ask someone how you can help them, or when would be a good time to meet to discuss a potential deal you are asking leading questions which lead the contact to complete a goal. Be purposeful in the reason for your call and ask clear, easy-to-answer questions.
Goal Driven Emails
The second and most common methods for communication with clients is through email. This is such a huge danger zone the text in this paragraph should probably be in red. Salespeople around the world fall victim to the “touching base” email threads. They don’t say anything relevant, they don’t ask for any specific action by the lead. Instead your goal driven emails should include clear and simple actionable items. For example, consider asking about feedback from a recent phone call; or maybe you’ll want to ask your customer for a response to a single question; or schedule a meeting. Whatever you choose, be sure your email needs an answer and preferably more than a one-word response.
Goal Driven Meetings
The last of the three ways you can focus on being goal driven involves your meetings. Don’t take meetings that don’t serve a purpose. It’s been said before but it can be too easy to jump into sales meetings or believe you need to “stop in” and visit with a lead simply because it’s been a while since you last met with them. Instead you can show them you value their time by not wasting time. Visit your leads with a plan and a purpose. And “catching up” is not a purpose. You should define a distinct goal or outcome you want to achieve by meeting with them. A couple example goals might be either signing a contract or demonstrating a new service or feature relevant to the customer’s needs.
By focusing your lead contact strategies on goal driven methods you will find you spend your time more effectively and your customers will understand the value you place on their time as well. Be goal driven and have a purpose when you connect with your potential customers you’ll be glad you did.