Cold Calls: Proper Preparation Prevents You Know What

This week my blog posts have all followed the theme of cold calls.  On Tuesday I wrote about how to best handle making outbound calls, yesterday I looked at how social media can help warm up cold leads before you pick up the phone. Today I thought I’d look at the importance of having good content when it comes to making those calls.

I’m not a huge fan of scripts, certainly not when it comes to trying to build rapport with someone in the hopes of making a sale. However, there is a strong argument that suggests a script of some degree is useful when it comes to making calls.

The reality is proper preparation prevents poor performance and creating some form of script, or guideline when it comes to making calls is a great way to get you focussed, and stay on track during the call.

Here are our top tips for things you ought to consider when you start creating your call outline

# 1 – Don’t ask how they’re doing

So many of us ask “how are you?” when on a call, it’s almost a knee-jerk reaction.  That’s all well and good when it’s a friend, colleague or someone you at least have some vague connection with, but it’s not really appropriate when you’re calling someone you don’t know.

The reality is people are often a little guarded when they answer the phone because they don’t know what’s coming.  If you, as a stranger, start asking them how they are, you automatically sound like a sales person.

Yes, you might well be, but you don’t want to get their backs up straight away.

Equally, them feeling obliged to answer the question and then ask you the same wastes their time right from the start.

# 2 – Check they’re not too busy

Whoever you’re calling is going to be busy.  They chances of them sitting there simply twiddling their thumbs waiting for the phone to ring is quite slim.  Therefore asking them if you’ve caught them in the middle of anything, or if it’s convenient for them to talk, is a good way to start.

It shows you’re respectful of their time, and that you care about having a proper conversation.  It’s a great way of making them feel less guarded.  Of course, it can backfire, they might well say that now is not convenient; however, this is just an opportunity to ascertain a more convenient time to call back and have their undivided attention.

# 3 – Get them talking

No matter how proficient you are at making cold calls you’re always going to sound like a sales person, which never comes across well.  One of the best ways to handle this is to get your prospect talking about themselves.

When you’re talking make sure everything points towards them, rather than what you’re selling.  Hopefully you’ve done some research about them, their company or their products and you can relate this to what it is you sell, without actually mentioning it.

By including pre thought out questions you can further encourage the prospect to talk about themselves.  This makes them engaged in what you’re saying and will hopefully keep them on the call for longer.  Not only that but the information they provide is likely to be valuable (as long as you’re actually listening to them).

# 4 – Pre-qualify

Good questions at this stage in the call will ensure that you’re talking to the right person, and they might well be interested in the products or services you have to offer.

Make sure you have worked in questions or have listened out for tell-tale signs that you are indeed talking to the right person before wasting too much time talking to the wrong one.

# 5 – Focus on the pain

This sounds so extremely scary, but the reality is your products should be there to remove pain from your prospect’s life.  By talking to them and asking them questions you should be able to figure out what their biggest issues are in the area you’re focussing on.

However, the reality is when you put a complete stranger on the spot, having interrupted their current activity, they might not necessarily be able to give you the answers you want.  This means you have to be prepared to answer it for them.  Have a few common sticking points ready to provide as examples, and ask if these are things that are an issue for them.

# 6 – Head towards the goal

Each cold call must have a goal.  Ultimately you must want to achieve something at the end of it.  Yes, it would be great if you could make a sale, but the odds are that’s not going to happen.

In most cases you’ll need to send some information, or follow up with a more in-depth conversation, perhaps even a face to face meeting.  Whatever your next step is, aim for that rather than closing a sale.  Putting someone on the spot to make a decision there and then on limited information is not going to end well for you.

# 7 – Build interest

In order to get your prospect to agree to a meeting or follow-up you’re going to need to build in enough interest for them to want to carry on the conversation. The important thing is to remember you’re not going to do that by outlining the benefits or specifics of your product. Someone who isn’t necessarily thinking about what you’re selling isn’t going to care what it does, or how competitively it’s priced.

However, they are going to be keen to know what value it’s going to add to them or their business.  Focus on the pleasure it can bring or the pain it can solve and you’ll be better placed to continue the conversation with them and then hopefully close the deal.

 

Why you shouldn’t just have your mobile number on your business cards

You might not know, but here at Time Saving Heroes we can design (and even arrange the print) of business cards.  We even offer packages to start-up businesses to help them get everything they need to launch in one place.

I was talking to one of our new start-up clients the other day about their business cards, and she was querying whether to put her mobile number on them or not.  She’s a one-woman band, working from home and therefore only has a mobile number.

Equally, because she’s in that starting zone the phone hasn’t started ringing yet.  At this precise moment she thinks the best thing she can offer her potential clients is constant access – she never wants to miss a call, because she never wants to miss business.

All of which makes perfect sense.

However, she hadn’t really thought about what happens when it does start ringing.  The problem with a phone is it’s quite difficult to ignore, especially if you think there’s a sale at the other end.  With most people not wanting to leave voicemails, we have a Pavlovian response to pick up.  Even if we’re at the hairdressers, the supermarket or in the middle of cooking dinner.

That’s all personal choice, but if a new client or a lead calls whilst you’re in an unsuitable location, and they can hear kids screaming in the background, or someone asking if you want fries with that, it’s not going to give the most professional of first impressions.

And they might not call back.

We had a good old chat about it, and she said the problem was she didn’t want to be tied to her house, and she didn’t want to get an office set up just so she could have a landline.  Which is when I asked if she’d ever thought about a Virtual Receptionist.

The benefit of using a call handling service is you have immediate access to a landline number, which will always be answered professionally, to give the right impression of your business.  Our service also means you can have a dedicated voicemail service for out of hours, or you can have calls diverted back to you to deal with if you prefer.

We have clients who give out their landline number on their business cards, and for sales but once a customer has been confirmed, they move them to their mobiles.  It’s one option, and one that works very well for many.

Another bonus of having a landline number is that it makes you look bigger than you actually are.  We all know that size doesn’t matter, but let’s not be shy, sometimes it does.  If you only have a mobile number on your business cards it says very clearly that you’re the only person to speak to.  There is no one else.

If you have a landline answered by a professional team, you automatically create a hierarchy.  Now, we’re not saying you’re going to get lots of complaints, but on the odd occasion when someone does want to complain, this hierarchy can work to your advantage.  Either the caller can be placated by an experienced customer service team, or they will feel their complaint has been escalated if they are eventually put through to you.

If they have access to you straight away, there’s nowhere for them to go after that if they remain disappointed.  Other than potentially social media. And nobody wants that.

 

If you want some advice about what to put on your business cards, are just starting out and want to find out about our packages or just fancy a chat (we love a good chat), give us a call on 0161 883 2024.

 

It’s not about the cost, it’s value for money that matters

Last week I had a meeting with a potential client (John), who had been referred to me by a business coach I’ve worked with previously who is helping him to grow and streamline his business.

John runs a pest control business that, although still relatively young (under two years) is doing very well.  The problem is that now the phone has started to ring, and the enquiries are coming in he’s realised he doesn’t have enough time to do everything himself.

The reality is he can’t spend all day out on jobs, then go out on quotes, follow up on enquiries, answer phone calls and then send invoices.  Not if he actually wants to spend any time at home with his wife and their three month old son.

We got chatting and talked through the issues he was experiencing, and he agreed he definitely needed an extra pair of hands to help things run more smoothly.

Then we got to the really fun bit – costs.

I like to think I keep things really simple when it comes to our fees: £25 per hour for our Virtual Assistance service.

However, John immediately baulked at the idea of paying “so much” for another person’s time.  In fact, his exact response was “I could just hire an admin assistant and pay them £7.50 per hour, it would be so much cheaper.”

Now, I know John thinks he’s saying “you’re so expensive”, but what I’m actually hearing is “I’m looking at this the wrong way.”

I practically rub my hands with glee as I roll my sleeves up for this challenge.

Although John actually only needs a few hours of practical admin assistance per day, he wants someone to be around during office hours to answer his phone and handle queries.  As such, he would have to employ a full time member of staff.

The biggest problem here is that he currently operates out of the back of his van.  An admin assistance, regardless of what you paid them, wouldn’t be able to do that.  As a result he’d need to locate office space and pay a deposit to secure it.

He’d then need furniture and equipment to put in to that office space.  Having an employee on site would also mean he’d need employer liability insurance. He’s confessed he has no experience of hiring staff, and wouldn’t know the first thing when it came to establishing whether someone was experienced enough or not. His preference therefore would be to use a recruitment firm to handle all of that for him.

Taking all of that in to account, his nice cost-effective admin assistant has cost him in the region of £4,286 before they’ve even set foot in the building!

It costs nothing to get Time Saving Heroes on board. No equipment, no space, no insurance. Nothing.

That’s a considerable saving right there.

Now let’s look at the monthly costs.

By the time you factor in salary, office rent, professional fees (such as auto enrolment, payroll and HR support), NI and pension contributions our employee is likely to cost in the region of £1,776.74pm.

Alternatively, John could hire a Time Saving Hero for a maximum of 2 hours a day (as that is what he think he needs in the way of real admin support) at a cost of £1,000pm.

He could then sign up to our call handling service at £55pm to ensure his calls are answered between 8.30am and 5pm.

All of a sudden paying £17.50 more per hour has saved him £721.71 per month.

When I put it like that, he saw things differently.

We started working together this morning.

When it comes to call handling, you have 3 choices

Last week we announced our popular call handling service is back, and it’s better than ever.  We now have a dedicated team able to take your calls, and that has created the opportunity for us to differentiate ourselves from other company’s offering the same service.

As a result, we have three different options to choose from.

Option 1: Holiday cover

Day to day you may find you’re in control of your phone calls, able to answer them whilst you’re at work, or keeping on top of any messages that come through.

You might even have staff on hand who handle this side of the business for you.

But what happens when you’re on holiday, or your staff take a break?  Who handles the calls then?

We offer a short term package to suit your needs, whether it’s for a week, 10 days or longer.  Our team will be on hand to answer your calls and deal with them according to your instructions.

This is ideal for people who need extra support for a short period of time and don’t want to be saddled with a contract or any set-up fees.

Option 2: Monthly cover

If you’re struggling to stay on top of your calls, or want the added bonus of ensuring every incoming call is handled in a timely and professional manner, then our monthly cover is ideal for you.

There’s no set up fee, and our pricing structure is competitive and easy to follow.

Calls will be answered between 8am and 5pm, Monday-Friday with messages being sent via email or text, depending on your preferences.

We can also offer an additional assistance package whereby we provide customer service support to your callers.

Option 3: Emergency cover

Time Saving Heroes pride ourselves on our ability to be reactive to the little emergencies that crop up in your business.

Kids off sick?  Stuck on a job? Receptionist caught in traffic and unable to come in? Whatever the issue, we offer emergency cover for as long (or as short) as you need it.

It’s quick and easy to set up (we can have you up and running within 10 minutes), cancel or extend.

 

How to find out more

If you want to have a chat, and find out more about our exciting new call handling, give us a ring on 0161 883 2024 or email hello@timesavingheroes.co.uk

 

 

Guess what’s back …

In 2014 we started offering call handling to some of our existing clients.  It proved to be such a popular service that we rolled it out to everyone and anyone, and it definitely became one of our more valuable offerings as far as business owners were concerned.

However, as is often the case with business, the sailing didn’t stay smooth for ever.

Following some staff changes Lu was predominantly answering calls on her own, and with the onset of morning sickness, she became concerned the quality of the service offered would be compromised.  It was a difficult decision, especially as it meant losing some clients altogether, but the call handling was stopped in early 2016.

I treat my clients like good friends, and I want to do the absolute best for them. Dropping the ball when it came to their businesses just wasn’t something I was prepared to do.

Nearly 18 months later and things have changed.  The morning sickness has been replaced by a 10 month old boy called Eric, and now we have a team in place dedicated to handling all the calls you can throw at them.

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If you want to find out more about the various packages we offer (including a holiday cover package) please get in touch. You can call 0161 883 2024 or email hello@timesavingheroes.co.uk

 

We look forward to taking your calls.

 

 

Get a Virtual Assistant to say it for you

Here at Time Saving Heroes we know how hard it is for business owners to hand over any aspect of their customer service to a complete stranger.  Your customers are everything, and you want to make sure that every part of their interaction with your business goes smoothly, and leaves them wanting more.

We totally understand that.

However, communication is one of the most time consuming aspects of any business.  Answering the phone, dealing with queries, replying to emails, scheduling appointments – it all takes up a huge amount of man power.  And when there’s only you, or a small team, that’s a lot of hours lost that could be spent doing something else that could be earning more money.

It can seem daunting at first, but it’s important to remember one thing: as your business grows it will become impossible for you to manage this aspect on your own.

Once you can accept that fact it starts to make sense to outsource some of the work to someone else now, so you can get the right processes in place to make expansion even easier.

Here are just ten ways you can free up your time by allowing a Time Saving Hero to communication on your behalf:

  1. Sending cards, thank you’s and invitations
  2. Checking and responding to voicemail
  3. Filtering your inbox and deleting spam/junk mail
  4. Writing, editing and sending follow-up emails to clients
  5. Creating templates to answer common questions
  6. Proof-reading and editing outbound messages you’ve already drafted
  7. Providing live chat support to online visitors
  8. Making outbound calls
  9. Dealing with support tickets/complaints etc
  10. Answering all your calls and taking messages, dealing with queries or passing on information

 

There’s so much more a Virtual Assistant can offer, but these are some of the key tasks that will allow you to focus on what you need to achieve to move your business forward.  Imagine how much more productive you could be if you weren’t constantly distracted by a ringing phone or an email notification.

To find out more simply give us a call on 0161 883 2024 or email hello@timesavingheroes.co.uk and we’ll be happy to help.