Archive for December, 2009

Piñata Prospecting

December 22, 2009

We’ve all seen a piñata game at child’s a party. The birthday boy, or girl is blindfolded, and they stand beneath a bag filled with candy suspended by a rope. The swinger is blind folded, turned around three times, and given a pole. They will then have three goes at hitting the piñata. Then it’s somebody else’s turn until someone cracks the piñata allowing the candy to fall to the floor.
Adults also like to get in on the fun, and sometimes they pull the piñata away from the swinger after they’ve been blindfolded, and have a laugh while the swinger swings wildly at absolutely nothing but thin air. Only a dog chasing its tail is more fun to watch.
What’s all this got to do with sales prospecting and cold calling? Plenty…

For many, sales prospecting has always been considered to be a pure numbers game. The rule of thumb states that if you take enough swings, and make enough blindfolded cold calls to prospects, somebody will eventually buy. Sounds like the game of piñata doesn’t it? If you take enough swings at the piñata, or make enough blind calls to prospects over the phone, eventually things will break open and your ‘candy’ will fall to the floor. In each instance success is measured in terms of how many swings, or how many blindfolded cold calls it takes to hit ‘pay dirt’. But is wearing a blindfold an effective way to fill your sales pipeline?

Take off the blindfold. Now how much trouble do you think you’d have hitting and breaking the piñata on the very first try? Suppose there were no blindfold for cold calling? How much difficulty would there be for you to close more sales appointments if you had some intelligent insight beforehand, and could see what you were swinging at?

Blindfolded cold calling can be frustrating, and a complete waste of time. Blindfolded prospecting can make you look a lot like that poor kid swinging wildly at an invisible piñata. Sales activity just for the sake of staying busy is not smart prospecting. You’ve got to do the research first, establish the target, and then make your sales call to a prospect. Take the blindfold off and see the piñata of sales opportunity, and then take your best swing. That way you won’t have to swing as much, and not as hard to get the sales results ‘candy’ you want.


To Leave a Message, or Not to Leave a Message…

December 1, 2009

That is the question many salespeople are asking themselves. As for me,  I typically don’t leave a message on voice mail for the sales prospect I am calling on. Now I know why, I hated the sound of my voice mail message.
Having recorded and listened to my phone message, I discovered that it was too ‘wordy’. Putting myself in my prospect’s shoes, I probably wouldn’t return my call either. Hey, nobody’s perfect…
The problem with most voice mail messages is that they sound like a sales call pitch. That alone, and by itself is enough to cause any prospect to hit the delete button right away. Now I’m thinking that if I can make my voice message sound humorous, and get it to peak curiosity, then perhaps my prospects will return my calls more frequently. So I got to work…
I finished writing a voice message script for myself this morning that I think will accomplish the objective, and get more sales prospects to call me back. I recorded it and measured the amount of time it took to leave my message – just 24 seconds! Then I put it to the test. I left 8 messages for prospects this morning, and by 10:30 AM I had 3 returned calls. Amazing what a little preparation and focus can do for the sales effort.

Then I got to thinking about what to do about those prospects that I’ve left a few messages for that were never returned, and probably never will. So, I came up with a new voice message script that is now succeeding 75% of the time in getting my sales prospects to call me back.

Here it is:

“Mr. Prospect, this is Peter Ekstrom calling”. “For the past several months I have left a few messages for you that have not been returned”. “It got me thinking”. “You know every night before I go to bed I talk to God, but for some reason I cannot get to talk to you”. “Rather than give up altogether I thought I’d give it one more try, so I’m leaving this message for you”. “Could you please return my call at 516-541-8160”. “I look forward to speaking with both you and God before the end of business today”. “Thanks”.

When they call back laughing I close them for an appointment.


You Must Call V.I.T.O. (Very Important Top Officer)

December 1, 2009

If you haven’t read Tony Parinello’s book ‘Selling to V.I.T.O.’ you’re missing a valuable sales lesson. I had the opportunity to meet Tony in-person when he gave a presentation to the CEO Club here in NYC. His words resonate with me every day, “You have to start at the top”! I couldn’t agree more…

Every day I make a number of ‘gold calls’ to sales prospects over the phone on behalf of my clients. I have made a standard practice of calling the top executives (V.I.T.O.) of the companies my clients want to do business with. Given the current state of the economy today it just doesn’t make sense to call anyone else but V.I.T.O. (Very Important Top Officer). The middle manager ‘See-Mores’ just don’t have the juice to make the final buying decision, and they are reluctant to approach top management about anything these days.

How about you? When you make a sales call to a prospect are you calling the ‘See-Mores’ or are you calling V.I.T.O.s? If you are hesitant about calling V.I.T.O. let me offer you some reassuring advice. The V.I.T.O.s are a much easier call to make, and your chances of closing a sale are much greater with V.I.T.O. compared to calling on underlings (See-Mores’).

The next time you are tempted to call a middle manager underling with no spending power think again. Call V.I.T.O. Why would you want to call anyone else?
Pete Ekstrom