The Best Time To Call
My message should be clear. Get on the phone and call people. You may think of a million reasons why you can’t or shouldn’t, but all of them are bogus.
- “It’s only eight-thirty in the morning. Let me give my target audience an opportunity to have his/her first cup of coffee.”
- “It’s almost lunch time. I’ll call right after lunch. I don’t want to bother anybody at lunchtime.”
- “It’s December 12th and I don’t want to call this close to Christmas.”
- “It’s Monday — it’s too early in the week.”
- “It’s Friday — too late in the week.”
There are a million reasons to avoid the telephone. But there is a best time to call somebody. And that best time is NOW! Whenever you think of it and have something to say is a good time to call. When the idea hits you. When that person enters your mind. When what you are reading triggers a prospecting idea. All good times to call.
I call most prospects before eight o’clock in the morning and after five because I know that decision-makers usually come to work early and stay late, while gatekeepers often leave pretty close to schedule. I also call people during lunch. Many executives eat lunch at their desk while the gatekeepers are away from the phone. When the phone rings, you’ll often find yourself talking directly with Mr. or Mrs. Big.
Create What-If Scenarios
Once you make the call, you know that only a few replies are likely after you ask for an appointment. You know what all the options are. So prepare by spending a few moments playing “what if.”
Let’s try a sales example using the travel agency analogy. You make a call:
MM: “This is Mike Marchev from Mike’s Do It Right Travel Service. I’m calling Mr. Smith to schedule an appointment.”
Gatekeeper: “Mike, are you a travel agency?”
MM: “Why yes I am.”
Gatekeeper: “Mike, let me save you some time. We are totally pleased with who we are using to make our company’s travel arrangements.”
Is this a stretch, or do prospects actually say that? (The foregoing is called a “rhetorical question.”) The gatekeeper/prospect can also say:
- “Mike, the president’s wife is a travel agent.”
“We don’t use travel agencies.”
- “We just changed travel agencies recently.”
- “Mr. Smith is not in at the moment.”
- “Mr. Smith is in a meeting which is probably going to last until the Supremes reunite.” (If you hear this one or something like it, you may want to re-charge your self-confidence unit for a while.)
- “Mr. Smith’s on vacation.”
- “Mike, we don’t travel that much.”
- “What could you do that our present agency is not already doing?”
As you make more and more calls, you will adapt this list to ten or fifteen responses that typically come at you over the phone when you ask for an appointment.
We will look at some of these responses and suggest how you can get past each one in a moment. But first…
Avoiding The Death Pause
What you want to prevent at all costs is what I call the “Death Pause.” The “Death Pause” goes something like this:
Ron Rookie: “I’m Ron Rookie from the A.B.C. Travel Agency. I’d like to speak to Mr. Smith to schedule an introductory meeting with him one day next week.”
Gatekeeper: “Ron, why should Mr. Smith do business with you?”
Ron Rookie: (Silence — not prepared for this question.)
Silence is all that can be heard over the telephone line — a sickly, loud lack of sound… the Death Pause. If you are a live, breathing human being, your stomach will be the first thing to go. Your nervous system will kick in full blast, and you will start to sweat. Next your hands start shaking and you wish you had never called in the first place. You become totally humiliated as you don’t have a clue what to say. The silence is getting louder and you can feel your heart beating through your shirt. You know you have to say something fast. But what? You hear yourself making a noise. You are speaking. You say,
Ron Rookie: “Well, in case you change your mind, I’ll be happy to help you.”
You then offer to send some literature, which the savvy gatekeeper agrees to, knowing that this is the sign that you will soon be hanging up. You hang up the phone and don’t know whether to start crying or reach for the want ads to find a new job as a behind the scenes accountant.
This entire negative scene can be avoided with a little work up front. Do your homework and recognize the fifteen logical responses that might surface during your call. Consider it “insurance” against the Death Pause.
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