I’m like you, I hate it when I see the title of an article as ‘Liverpool football club to spend £150 million on these 5 targets for next season’, but then they make you read the whole article (alongside 249 different adverts) to finally get to the answer you were initially interested in. Therefore, I’ll start at the end.
Here’s 5 ways to speak to your potential B2B leads:
- Don’t sell to them on a first call.
- People buy from people.
- Speak to them like a human being.
- Truly Listen.
- Be prepared to Improvise.
Now if you’re still with me then I’ll explain a little about how we, at our Business Development and Lead Generation agency, Carbon Global, go about doing this successfully.
1. Don’t sell to them on a first call –
B2B Lead generation is part of the sales process but it is not, let me repeat, it is not, selling. Far from it. We are literally selling a cup of tea or a coffee. A conversation. A chance to learn. That’s it. So if you go into a conversation sounding like you’re about to sell them your products or services, without actually anything to sell, then they will put down the phone on you within the first ten seconds. Yes, in the past it may have been a tried and tested sales approach but in today’s climate we are all extremely over being ‘sold’ to. That’s not the way to make a good first impression at all and, as we know, first impressions count for everything. Why? Because…
2. People buy from people –
No matter what your business is selling, you are hoping to create lasting relationships with your clients. The same is true in reverse. Your prospects want to know that if they give you a piece of work that you, firstly, are capable of handling it, but secondly, that you will be professional and easy to collaborate with along the way. Each of these people wants to make their job easier and there is nothing worse than being stuck with an uncooperative agency partner. They want to like you, don’t forget that. This relationship begins from your very first interaction and there is nothing more reassuring than speaking to someone who is able to hold an honest, straightforward and ultimately collaborative conversation. Even better if you have something in common. Small talk is not wasted in this environment. Which brings us to my next point.
3. Speak to them like a human being –
I’ve been called so many times by people who sound like a robot. Why? Because they have their script in hand and they’re terrified to veer away from it. If I let them get past the first ten seconds, I like to throw in a curveball (my specialty) to see how they react and then sit back and enjoy as the wheels come off. We all have a job to do and there is nothing wrong with that, but if you don’t give every prospect the respect they deserve, treating them all like individual human beings with different interests, needs, quirks and tolerances, then you will not be treated with time and patience in return. It goes back to the first impressions, if you can speak to someone on their level, whether that’s the Head of Design at Mars or the Head of Oncology at Bayer then you’re already doing better than the 99%. These prospects are ultimately people just like you, speak to them like it. And whatever you do, don’t just speak at them, because then you’re just inviting a curveball, ready and waiting to throw you off. Therefore…
4. Truly Listen –
Honestly, it’s both the easiest and hardest thing in the world to do. Sam and I spent most of our drama school training ‘listening’. The late great Alan Rickman said “All I want to see from an actor is the intensity and accuracy of their listening” – and that holds true for business partnerships as well. If you listen to your client and understand what they really want, then the chances of success will skyrocket. Collaboration is key. They have their ideas and ultimately they are the ones navigating the ship. So understand where they are going. This is incredibly important even on a first call. If you’re listening to their challenges, push them, probe into why this challenge has arisen, who has been trying to solve it, how have they been trying to solve it, what they think the solution is. Again, if you’re listening, you’ll adapt, you’ll think on the spot and you’ll show them immediately what you’re capable of. So…
5. Be prepared to improvise –
You’ve engaged in the conversation, you’re in. They have opened up because you’re not trying to sell to them, you’re trying to solve their problem. You’re part of the team. All the steps up to this point have worked. The only problem is as soon as someone opens up it makes them feel vulnerable, so in return they’ll start asking questions of you. The key is to answer honestly and if you can’t answer a question, again be honest, tell them that you’ll go away, find out and come back with an informed answer. People appreciate that. Why? Because you’re not a salesman. You’re a human. You’ve not treated them as a number and you’ve been vulnerable together to solve a problem. What more could they ask for. Communication at its best and hopefully by the end of the sales cycle, a new client.
by Henry Regan