In this blog we'll discuss two of the most important objectives in prospecting. And you'll learn how to be less frustrated by rejection, better informed about their supply chain, when you should be following up and most importantly how to turn more of your prospects into customers.
There's 2 major objectives in prospecting. Getting information and getting business. Most newer brokers and rookies will approach prospecting from a single mindset. How do I get more of what I want? How do I get more loads, shipments, freight so that I can earn more money. What's in this next call for me?
And the outcome is usually the same. Zero. What's the outcome from the shipper or prospect's point of view? Another irritating cold call from someone that wants something from me. Let me ask you, "what thoughts do you have when you're cold called for a product or service?" Are you really excited to drop what you're doing so that you can assist some stranger with something they need? Yea, me neither. That's why it's not very effective.
What I'm going to discuss is how to get something that is far more beneficial to you. And will help you get more customers. It will also make your calls last longer and leave your prospect wanting to continue talking to you. Or at least not run in the other direction the next time they see your phone number on their caller ID.
It's prospecting for information. The next time you make a prospecting call treat it like your investigating a story to write a paper on. Think of prospecting like a detective trying to uncover the mysteries of the shipper's supply chain. When are asking questions that are less focused on what you want, the more likely you are to have a real conversation that results in rapport. But how do you do this? It's much easier than you think.
First start by giving them something of interest. What's in it for them. You can lead with the fact that you have trucks delivering in their area. It could be that you have a customer in common. Or it could be that you are an expert in that commodity and are well versed on the common issues of hauling it. What really matters is that you aren't leading by telling them all about your company and yourself. They don't know you and certainly don't care who you work for until you've given them a reason to care. Something in it for them.
Now, you want to do something counter intuitive, tell them that you're not sure if you're both a fit to work together. That you think it's worth a conversation, but aren't certain you could actually work together. This will relieve some of the tension in the call. Because lets be honest, if you cold called them, they know you want something. This is a technique in sales known as going for no. You're releasing the pressure that's inherent to a sales call. Now, after you've pushed back a little you want to ask some very general questions about their industry.
Something like this, "hey Paul, is it getting pretty busy for you this time of year? Or is this a slower season for you? Just curious how things have been since the pandemic and lock down? Are most of your staff back in the office full time?" What do all of these questions achieve? They help the prospect get into the habit of answering your questions. It gets them more comfortable talking and having a back a forth. It brings their guard down. And that is really your first objective in a sales call. It's not to get business. It's to achieve rapport. No one is being honest with you until they feel comfortable talking to you and have at least some trust established.
Remember that it takes between 8-12 conversations with a prospect before you'll be doing business together. So why are you trying to get them to give you freight or any business if you've only spoken to them once or twice? This is where so many brokers go wrong. The are prematurely asking their partner's hand in marriage on the 2nd or 3rd date. It's way too early to be talking about marriage and children if you just met. So stretch out the amount of time you'll be speaking with them. Something much closer to 30-45 days.
This will help tremendously in a few different ways. First of all, you won't be as frustrated being rejected on every call. Because you're not asking for something you shouldn't expect. Like, walking around a night club asking every one you have an interest in to marry you. Secondly, you learn more about your prospect along the way. You'll learn when their busy season is, when they are slow, and when they actually need help the most. Third, it will give you the information you need to determine when the best time to follow up is. You don't want to be following up asking for freight if it's the slowest time of year for them. With the information you're learning from your calls, you'll be better informed to when it will be appropriate to follow up. And finally it will help turn more of your prospects into customers. Because you'll have much better rapport established along the way.