How To Turn Leads into Warm Calls
By Ari Galper, Founder of Unlock The Game™
A lead. That's what everyone in business dreams of getting every day so they don't have to make cold calls to strangers.
Leads can take the form of inquiries from your website, lists of people you've met at recent networking meetings who enjoyed hearing about your product or solution, or lists you've purchased or received with names of prospects in your target market who have expressed an interest in your solution.
Somehow, getting an inquiry from a complete stranger makes us feel more confident when we pick up the phone to call them back. We feel less guarded because we assume there isn't going to be any resistance. After all, they've taken the initiative by contacting us, so we proceed on the assumption that they're truly interested in purchasing what we have to offer.
Seems like the ideal situation, doesn't it? Well, certainly some callbacks go as smoothly as silk -- you call them back, they're ready to order your product or service, and you happily take their order.
But how many times a day does that happen to you? Probably not many.
So the question is, are you doing everything you can to make sure that the first 60 seconds of your callback to a lead warms up the conversation instead of making it colder?
These 5 strategies will help you turn leads into warm calls:
1. Drop the enthusiasm
Don't even think about being excited or enthusiastic when you call a lead. Why? Well, what would you think if a stranger called you and launched into an excited, enthusiastic pitch about their product or service before you had a chance to become comfortable talking with them? You'd think, "Salesperson!" And you would probably feel a little defensive and cautious. That's how most people react to surprise enthusiasm from a stranger.
So it's important to remain calm and not convey any excitement, because that can kill your call as soon as you say "Hello." Don't assume that what you have can help them either. Instead, begin your call in a calm, relaxed voice. This will let them feel that you're connecting with them at their level, not yours.
2. Don't assume the sale
What happens every time we get an inquiry from someone has expressed interest in our product or service? We have an almost instant biological reaction. Our mind says, "Yippee!," our heart starts pounding, our blood flows faster, and we get a sparkle in our eye -- because that drug called "Hopeium" starts pumping through us. We start "hoping" we're going to make the sale.
You might ask, "What's wrong with that?" Well, the problem is that "Hopeium" is based on nothing -- except our assumption that just because someone has shown interest, he or she wants to buy what we have. The problem is, you haven't even spoken with that lead yet. You have no idea if there's a budget for your solution, or whether buying your solution is a priority. In other words, you know nothing about what's on their mind.
So, instead of assuming the sale, try humbly telling yourself, "I'm not going to assume anything at all until I actually have a conversation and get to the truth of where they stand, because maybe my solution isn't a good fit for them after all."
This mindset will take the pressure off in a couple of ways. For one thing, you won't work yourself into a mental frenzy. Even more important, when you make the call, you won't trigger the wrong impression -- that you're calling just to make the sale -- because the other person will sense that you're not assuming anything about whether what you have is right for them.
3. Begin by confirming that they sent in the lead
When you call back leads, it's tempting to try to get right into talking about what they're looking for because you're hoping they want to buy your product or service. But by jumping into that kind of conversation, you miss a key trust-building moment when you can show respect for them. You do this by telling them you don't want to assume they're interested in your product or service unless you can confirm that they themselves sent in the inquiry.
When you share this concern right at the outset, you also take the awkwardness out of the initial few moments of your call. Here's a graceful, gentle way to put it: "I didn't want to assume that this inquiry came from you, so I just want to check with you to be sure you were the one who sent it through?"
This shows respect and gives the other person a chance to connect with you as a human being. It allows the conversation to emerge rather than making them feel they have to defend themselves against someone who's moving the conversation forward toward making a sale.
4. Help them tell you exactly what's on their mind
It's important to make the person you call feel totally comfortable about telling you the truth about what's on their mind without fearing repercussions from you.
You have to assume that the person you are calling suspects at the outset that you have an agenda. So it's your responsibility to make them feel comfortable telling you exactly what their intentions are. You also need to be ready to hear the truth, which may be that they have only a mild interest in what you have to offer, which also means they're most likely not ready to buy from you.
This is obviously not what you want to hear, but if you can't accept hearing the truth, you'll get stuck with false hopes and expectations. It's better to be grounded and not assume you're going to get a "yes." Then you can walk away with your self-esteem intact, and with the possibility that your openness to their truth will leave the door open to future conversations.
5. Avoid trying to "close"
Let's say you've called a lead and it's going well. You're sharing a natural dialogue and there seems to be a good level of interest. Now the call is coming to an end, but your mind is starting to race because you've been trained that when someone shows interest, you should go for the "close." The problem is, trying to "close" someone after only one conversation risks ruining the relationship you've been working so hard to build.
So what should you do instead? Simply ask them, "Where would you like to go from here?"
Share with them that you don't believe in the old approach of trying to "close" people, and be sure to let them know they'll never feel any pressure from you at any stage of your communication together. Then sit back and watch the magic happen!
These 5 key strategies can turn your leads into warm calls.
To your success,