When making your initial sales call on larger and more professional prospects—at least among the most successful contractor salespeople—cold calling has pretty much become a thing of the past. Today, prospects tend to be super busy and stingy with their time, so to increase the odds you’ll get an appointment when you call, make sure you’re not a stranger.
Here are some ideas to help ensure you’ll make a great first impression:
1: Before you ever meet a prospect, put the decision makers and influencers on your mailing list and periodically send them information they will perceive to be of value. You may send the information by email or by snail mail, but make sure what you send is good stuff.
2: Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date. Be sure to include a recent photograph, articles you have written that show prospects you are an excellent resource, your background, etc. LinkedIn is becoming more and more of a go-to site to evaluate salespeople’s potential value.
3: Third-party referrals are worth their weight in gold. Do your homework by checking out what is available in the public domain on your prospects. Go to their website, their Facebook page, their LinkedIn profile, etc. and find out who they associate with. If you have a professional relationship with people the prospect has a relationship with, ask them to put in a good word for you. If the builder’s subcontractors respect you, odds are the builder will respect you, too.
4: Attend homebuilders association meetings. Be visible everywhere your prospects are active. Volunteer to help out at events. Be so visible that your best prospects begin to hear your name mentioned as an unselfish leader.
5: Remove any controversial photographs and posts from your Facebook page.
6: Do enough research to know what your prospect’s interests are. If they are sports fans, know their favorite teams. If they like to hunt and fish, do enough reading on these topics to carry on an informed conversation. Remember the Platinum Rule: Do unto others as they would have you do unto them. In other words, talk with prospects about the things your prospects like to talk about.
7: Keep your eyes open and your camera close by when you are scouting out a prospect’s jobsite. Notice the way your competitor delivers material. Is framing material dumped into a mud hole or is it placed strategically around the jobsite? Are materials waiting to be returned sitting around getting weather-beaten waiting for the supplier to pick them up? Do you see opportunities to substitute a different grade or a different brand that would lower the contractor’s costs?
8: Wear professional attire, especially when making your first few sales calls on prospects. My idea of professional attire is long slacks, polo shirt, well-fitting jacket, etc. Consider not wearing shorts or a ball cap, and for goodness sake, don’t chew gum, at least not on the first few calls. Remove all controversial bumper stickers or anything that might be a turn-off to the prospect.
9: Do your best to keep your vehicle clean and presentable both inside and out.
10: Remember that your number one goal on a prospect call is to get permission to come back. Don’t ask for an order on the first call. Don’t ask for a set of prints on the first call. Don’t quote prices on the first call. The purpose of the first call is to make a positive first impression and to get permission to visit with the prospect for the purpose of learning if there are any opportunities you can spot to improve upon on the service the prospect is receiving from his current supplier.