The primary, and one can argue the only purpose of a prospecting call is to gain engagement. It is not, as some pundits will tell you, to build rapport or start the relationship, or set yourself up for the future. These latter outcomes are things we sometimes have to settle for, but there is no doubt these are a distant second place to the primary goal; the singular objective and measure of success is to schedule a meeting, (live, phone, web, what have you), anything short of that is second place, which as you know is first place for those who missed the primary objective.
Adopting that attitude is key, as attitudes influence your actions, and how you act on that initial call will determine whether you engage with your potential buyer, or join the ranks of the Also-rans. The attitude is that we need to meet because there will be a mutual advantage to both as a result of the engagement. In the long run, the buyer will be closer to their objectives, and you will have a buyer. In the short term, they will learn from you, as they would from any encounter with a subject matter expert, and that is what you are; and you will learn something from them and their business. But none of that happens if you fail to engage.
Attitude also influences the message, what you say right out of the gate, most sales people, with help from the marketing team, tend to blow this important opportunity, and as a result the call. Listen to B2B sales people make prospecting calls, as I have done with hundreds of reps, thousands of calls, and you will discover that most end up delivering the wrong massage in the wrong way.
While everyone will tell you that the call has to be about the buyer and their “What’s in it for Me”, it rarely is. Most calls start off with an introduction to the company, what “we” do, and how “we” do it, how great “we” are, and then, well into the call they finally introduce the “what” may be in it for the buyer. Something like:
Hi Buyer, I my Name is Alfred E. Newman, do you have a few minutes, I am the North East Account Manager at YetAnother Corp. We are a leading manufacturer of something you already have, our clients recognize as being reliable and customer centric. We help them reduce the total cost of production by 8% while reducing their manufacturing process by 6%.
Now that last part is good, assuming the person you called is still awake, considering the precious seconds you wasted with boring non-relevant data. I know it is hard, but on that first call, in those early seconds, no one cares about us, our awards, place in the market, how we do things, seriously, they don’t, no matter what your marketing folks tell you.
What they DO care about is “what is in it for them”, more specifically “how will this help me get to my desired outcomes or objectives?” Which is the last part of the above intro. Which is why I say “turn it upside-down”; start with the outcome, what’s the tangible for the, meaning the “the reduction of their “total cost of production by 8% while reducing their manufacturing process by 6%.” The stuff before that is just filler for you, not for the buyer who may not be awake by the time you get to it.
Lead with that last part, it is more likely that they were thinking about that before you called; but many sales people can’t bring themselves to leave out the filler, the puff-pastry that brings nothing to the call but the risk of rejection, discouragement, and a lack of prospecting success.