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The First Key to Sales Success

"But Baby, it's cold outside"...
Turn up the Heat and turn Cold Calls into New Clients."

by Terry Sullivan
TMS Consulting

The weather outside is turning cold and the opportunity to be in the elements trying to drum up prospective customers is an activity that most people dread. They promise themselves that they will be focused and dedicated and make calls from the office or perhaps even from home. Suddenly the phone weighs 50 pounds and there are a million other things to do other than make calls. Ask yourself the following questions...

Hate prospecting and especially dread cold-calling?

Dislike being on the phone trying to set appointments?

Lose control in the sales call?

Just wing your conversation?

If you answered yes, then you need a new approach and perhaps some new tools. So let's look at the First Key to Sales Success ~ proven strategies for creating and sustaining success in your prospecting efforts. One of the foundational issues in sales success is knowing how your product meets the needs of your potential customers. The market research, which should have been done before any product /service launch, is the place to start gathering your information. Volumes have been written on this issue and this article will not do more than to pose the question. Once you have the answer, you are ready to begin finding new clients.

Start by creating a checklist of all the features of your product. Next for each feature, create as many individual benefits as you can think of... really brainstorm. After each benefit, ask yourself how could you share this information (enthusiastically, of course!) with someone who either does not know your product or who currently uses that of your competition.

Remember, there are only 5 reasons to use a given product or service and your approach must always anchor the benefits you offer to these reasons:

Once this process is completed, practice talking about the benefits with a fellow sales rep or, for that matter, with any individual committed to your success. Next, start finding articles from industry publications, from newspapers and magazines, which relate to the challenges faced by your target market. Now you are ready to begin prospecting!

Even hearing the term "cold-calling" is enough to cause some people to shiver and quake with fear. If you still have this feeling, now is the time to shift your thinking. First, it is important to your success in sales to understand without doubt that regardless of how exciting your product or service may be, you will not gain everyone as a client. Secondly, you must understand the importance of numbers and ratios. Over time you will be able to develop personal statistics. If you are working directly as a sales rep for a company or in a MLM environment, your sales manager or someone in your upline should be able to give you company/product-related averages as a realistic frame of reference. If you are self-employed, do some research on your industry- related and other professional associations. Join one and you will find other professionals with related experience who can provide advice.

The ratios:

How many contacts with decision makers will lead to an appointment where you can actually give a presentation, quote a price, and ask for the order? Of those qualified presentations, how many new clients should you expect? One national average often quoted is that seasoned salespeople should average 1 new client for every 3 qualified presentations given....for relatively new people or experienced people with new products may find that they close 1 out of 5; as they begin to improve in product knowledge and experience success with prospects, 1 new client out of every 4 presentations can be expected. Even seasoned, highly successful salespeople who may close 50, 60, or even 70% of every presentation STILL do NOT close 100%.

I make a point of emphasizing this here because sales is a numbers game. The more "NO"s you get, the sooner you get to YES on a consistent basis. Yet this will only happen if you treat each prospect to the very best evaluation of his or her needs in relationship to your product or service's ability to solve the prospects problems.

Strategy 1

Remember the earlier remarks about market research and your target audience. Now you are ready to put that information to good use. I love to contact potential clients and ask them for their input in a short survey based on 2-3 benefits offered by the product or service I represent. My last question in any such survey is always "What, if anything, would you change about how you are currently doing business (general)? or .about the relationship you have with your current vendor/supplier/customer base (more specific to the industry)?

After getting their input (problems to solve and degree of satisfaction with their current situation/supplier), I can offer to send them, or better yet, drop off information (the articles I've found) for them related to the issues discussed.

Now I have turned an unknown into "warm" prospect. More importantly, I will have gained valuable information that will help me interact with the person and the issues from the perspective of a trusted expert in the field rather than an annoyance.

Strategy 2

Turn business cards collected at networking events into gold! Follow up with each person whose card you have obtained, preferably within 48 hours. Tell them you would like to learn more about their products/services as you wish to serve as a "resource" for your own clients whenever possible. Ask them to send, or when possible, to give you (in person) a sample of the information that they would give to you to pass onto a potential referral. Invariably, they will at least ask you about what you many cases, they will make a reciprocal request. Multiply your presence in the marketplace by developing an insatiable curiosity for the diversity of products and services available for you to bring to your clients' attention. The other salespeople will be able to share who you are with their own prospects as well as their client base, and your customers will think you are an amazing resource for them.

Strategy 3

Live a life you love!!!! If you are enthusiastic about life, people will want to learn more about you. In today's world, we are often defined by the type of work we do and the level of responsibility we hold. Are you brimming with enthusiasm for the products and services you represent or support? If you are not, how can anyone else get excited? Always remember to ask the other people first about themselves. Remember to also ask what they like best about the work that they do. Listen attentively without interruption. People love to talk about their successes. Once they pause, they naturally ask you the same. Be someone people would like to know, someone knowledgeable and likeable enough they could trust to recommend. Approaching your professional life in this way enables you to have unlimited numbers of people telling your story.sharing your enthusiasm.

Terry M. Sullivan, has an extensive sales and marketing background and has developed and implemented a wide range of training programs. For more information about T M S Consulting, call 770-448-2117 or visit her website at