Back to asking for an appointment. Once you realize that you are not going to get the appointment, you should shift gears and try to learn something that will help you the next time you decide to try again with this prospect. You might say,
MM: “I understand. Personally, I wouldn’t change either if I was totally happy with who I was doing business with. Before hanging up, may I ask you three questions? Is your annual travel budget closer to ten thousand or one-hundred thousand dollars? Do you ever travel internationally? Do you have a central travel coordinator or does each individual secretary book your travel?”
Ask two or three questions that will help you position the prospect as an A, B, or C candidate.
Penetrating The “Ditchboard”
A constant hurdle in telephone marketing is circumventing the infamous switchboard — or as I sometimes call it, the Ditchboard, because the job description requires the operator to “ditch” all salespeople. Let me give you some ideas on this.
First, if you find yourself being screened at the switchboard, don’t get annoyed with the operators. For every call they handle from a squared away individual like yourself, they get two hundred from a bunch of clowns dressed like professional salespeople. Understand that the people trying to “ditch you” are doing nothing more than their job. Be nice, because you’ll only get into the castle if they open the gate.
When a switchboard operator screens you, thank her (or him) politely, get off the phone, wait a day or two, and then call again. But, before hanging up the first time get the gatekeeper’s name so the next time you call you can address her personally.
MM: “Hi Mary, this is Mike Marchev. I spoke with you last week. You told me that you thought your boss was totally satisfied with the agency you are doing business with. May I ask you a question? This is very important, because I think we have a service that Mr. Smith is going to find very interesting. How would you suggest I go about getting an appointment with him?”
In other words, to get the Gatekeeper to play on your team, ask for help. Do this and you will position yourself as someone who means business because very few salespeople return a second time as quickly as you did. You weren’t arrogant. You had no tricks up your sleeve. Your job is to schedule an appointment with Mr. Smith, and you are politely persistent and tenacious. What’s more, you respectfully asked the Gatekeeper to share her expertise as to how to navigate the obstacle course. This won’t always work, but the odds are pretty good.
Another way I have gotten past switchboards is by saying,
MM: “Could you please connect me with the sales department?”
Most switchboards consider this a good thing. Sales is something that helps everybody at the company eat regularly. If you ask to speak to somebody in sales, very few operators will ask you “why.” Once you are connected to the sales department you then say,
MM: “I’m not sure if I’m in the right place. I’m trying to find the person responsible for making your travel decisions.”
Correct directions are usually forthcoming.
The important mindset to keep is that you’re not trying to sell while using the telephone (in most cases). All you’re trying to do is schedule an appointment to introduce yourself and your program.
When you do succeed in scheduling an appointment, don’t quit on this “upper.” Many salespeople decide that it’s Miller Time and stop calling. Don’t. When you get an appointment, your energies are up. Your voice is up. Your program worked. You become charged and excited. Make another call right away. You will find yourself on a roll. You will be more confident. As professional golfers say, “You are in the Zone.” Don’t take yourself out of the game now! Continue to place at least ten more calls after you managed to schedule an appointment. Everything will be working for you.
When you decide to start your telemarketing program, block out a specific time each day to make your calls. Know that there will be a sense of rejection in this exercise by definition (unless you adopt the proper mindset I gave you), but don’t stop calling. You may have to make a hundred phone calls to talk to fifteen people to get six presentations scheduled to get one piece of business. Those numbers are not high or low. Your numbers will be what they will be.
Remember, the more people you call, the more money you’re going to make. That is how it works. Make those calls.
Mike presents a business-building webinar on the third Thursday of every month sponsored by AmaWaterways. To receive monthly invitations send Mike an email with the words “business training” in the Subject Box. You will also receive a link to the recorded version.
For information on Mike’s Fourth Annual Training Cruise, email Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org with the word “cruise” in the subject box.