Breathe, relax and pull out your notes.
Last week’s blog post outlined how to prepare for a prospect call. Today, it’s time to pull out your notes, get on the phone and close the deal. Nervous? These seven tips will help get you through – and guarantee the call goes well.
- Spend a few minutes getting to know the prospect. A little small talk can go a long way. Sure, you’re both busy – but chatting about the weather, favorite restaurants or the latest Mad Men episode can be a great way to bond. Launching right into business-chat (unless the prospect does first) can seem abrupt. I once landed a client by chatting about Vanilla Ice. Really.
- Ask a lot of questions – and listen to the answers. What’s the best thing you can do during a sales call? Keep your mouth shut and take detailed notes. When you do speak, try to wrap your questions around your prospect’s previous response. For instance, you could say, “You mentioned that your copywriting team is already overloaded. How many new projects are you assigned every week?” That way, the client knows that you’re “hearing” them – and you get valuable information that helps you frame your next question.
- Don’t allow yourself to get stuck in the “Can you send me a highly detailed proposal outlining exactly what you’ll do” trap. I know it’s tempting to spend hours slaving over a multi-page document. That’s not a proposal. That’s a strategy document. Sure, you can point out some possible SEO writing opportunities. But if your contact is asking for an in-depth, detailed document, let your prospect know that’s a separate deliverable. Here are some ways to turn around a (good) proposal fast.
- If asked, confidently state your rates. This is where some copywriters get tongue-tied. If you’re not sure how much the project will cost, it’s OK to say, “I have to work on some numbers and get back to you.” If the prospect pushes for a general answer, you can always provide a highly general range (here are some ways to handle the “how much do you charge” discussion.) If your prices are too high for your prospect and you don’t see a “match,” refer them to another (lower-priced) vendor. And please don’t discount your rates just because you’re afraid of losing the gig. There are other ways to do it besides costing yourself cash.
- Is your prospect unsure? Help them break down the numbers and imagine success. Some clients know they need help – they just need a little confidence boost. If your client says things like, “Wow, $1,000 is a lot of money – I’m not sure if I can afford you,” start asking questions like, “What’s the lifetime value of a customer” and “what’s your average sale?” Chances are, you’ll be able to counter with a statement like, “If the average lifetime value of a customer is $700, it will take less than two customers to pay for my services – and I’m sure I can pull more than two customers for you.” In one fast sentence, you’ve overcome your prospect’s objection and made hiring you a no-brainer!
- Are you getting a “I can’t make a decision right now” response? It happens. Ask your prospect if you should chat with anyone else involved in the hiring decision. For instance, your contact may need her boss’ sign off before she gives her answer. If you can be in on the “pitch” call between your contact and her boss, you can answer any questions and speak directly to the decision maker.
- No matter what happens, send a “thank you” note. Whether the answer is “yes,” “no,” “call back in six months” or “I’m not sure” – email a thank you note the next day. Why? Good manners never go out of style. Plus, your prospect will remember you for other gigs. That’s the best kind of networking there is.