I got a phone call from a new advisor who thought he was having a case of “call reluctance.”
He has been in sales for years and in financial services for about four months. He came to the business with a list of nearly 500 former business clients and associates.
Walk-ins were part of his former sales career and he was comfortable with that activity. He and I have had discussions on how to approach his large “natural market”. I have a personal relationship with him; he’s a very warm, personable guy and I have a lot of confidence in his appointment setting skills.
Needless to say, I was surprised by his statement. However, as he spoke about why he was feeling uncomfortable making calls, he added the statement, “You know, Gail, I just don’t want to be that guy.” So I asked him what guy he was describing. And as he expounded on his concern I realized that even an experienced salesperson can reach this calling roadblock.
The essence of his question to me was: How much do you call so you don’t cross that invisible line between persistent and a pest.
Most salespeople are “prodded” by their managers because they don’t make enough calls. When someone is self-motivated to make calls and has scripts that fit their personality, a change in their phoning should not be immediately seen as laziness or requiring a “shove.” The conversation I had with this friend narrowed down to the fear of being a pest.
No one wants to be seen as pushy, aggressive, annoying, brash, and annoying. In short: Ned Ryerson in the film “Groundhog Day.”
So how much calling is too much? The answer isn’t as simple as a regulated calling schedule, but you still need to have a pattern that you religiously use.
Someone who is “off pattern” clues you into the possibility that there might be a problem. That doesn’t mean you should give up on this prospect, or think the lead is dead. The individual might not be sharing a business or personal issue. But if you don’t act consistently, you can’t read your prospect’s behavior as well.
A suggested pattern for calling would be as follows:
- Week #1: You can call [up to] twice, but no more than one voice mail
- Week #2: Same as above
- Week #3: Don’t make any calls
- Week #4: One call, one voice mail
Now you’ve called for a month. If this is a referral or introduction, you might want to reach out to the referring party on Week #3. If this pattern (especially week #3) makes you nervous, you don’t have enough leads. By the third week you should have new prospects that you are excited about.
You now need a longer stretch between calls. For the next three months, I’d call once a month (again, my focus would be on my new leads anyway); and after that, I’d call every other month.
Important: Put your new prospects on your e-newsletter list. I endorse using e-relationship because it solves the problem of staying in touch. It isn’t as direct as phone calls, which solves the problem of appearing to be “pushy”.
If you follow this pattern of phoning and emailing, you will have some “lost” prospects re-emerge. Others you may see at networking events, social events, etc. Those face-to-face encounters give you another way to communicate with these people.
At the end of our call, my friend felt better. He needed some guidelines for what might be perceived as being a “phone bully” vs. what was too little to accomplish his goal. Having a schedule for calling all new leads will help you keep calm and not “reactive,” which is the best way to manage your sales life!
Read also these columns by Gail Goodman:
- You can’t “just dial” anymore
- Is phoning dead? Hardly
- Diagnosing your lack of appointments: 7 possible reasons