There are currently no less than three reality shows on TV about finding Bigfoot, the elusive creature that falls somewhere in between humans and apes on the evolutionary chain. For decades people have sworn that they have seen, been attacked, hung out with, and dated them (ok, maybe not that last one). There have been grainy videos, out of focus photos, even plaster castings of their footprints. Yet no one has ever actually produced definitive proof of their existence.
That pretty much sounds like the One Call Close. The One Call Close conceptually is awesome. You make your very first cold call to a prospect, and walk away with legitimate, fillable orders. That sounds great! Unfortunately it almost never happens. I’ve worked with hundreds of sales people making literally millions of sales calls, and it has happened so infrequently I can’t actually think of a single specific example. (By the way, skill marketing is different, and can be an effective way to close business more quickly. See my previous blog on Skill Marketing to learn how.)
The problem is that this myth is still so pervasive in staffing that it affects the way sales people approach the sales process. They treat the first phone call like a one-time event with a win or lose outcome. I either come away with an order (or at least an appointment), or I failed. Salespeople are trained and managed to close on the very first call, and so they come across as a pushy, phony sales person.
The reality is that our prospects don't buy that way. Staffing is a big purchase for companies – even one person can be 10’s to 100’s of thousands of dollars depending on the duration and skill set. They aren’t going to make a decision based on a first phone call with a total stranger. And frankly if they did, I’d be wondering what’s wrong with the order, the company, or the prospect’s judgment. They also are pretty unlikely to accept your request for an appointment unless your timing is perfect, or something is wrong (see previous sentence).
So what does this mean to you? Well first you probably need to change your sales approach if you are a sales rep, or your expectations if you are a manager. The objective of the first call should not be to get an order or even an appointment. It is an unrealistic goal and causes sales reps to approach prospects with the wrong mentality.
Instead, your goal on the first call is to let them know you exist, try to create some rapport, and establish some credibility. This is best done by acknowledging that you know you aren’t the first staffing sales rep to call them, and that you are merely introducing yourself. You might even tell them upfront that you aren’t going to ask them for an appointment or an order (Gasp!). Then tell them you want to very briefly tell them about why your company is different.
This approach works because it is so different from the usual (and frequent) sales pitches they get. It allows them to let their guard down, because they aren’t waiting for that dreaded request ‘would 10 am or 3pm on Wednesday work better for you?’ You are talking to them like a human being and an intelligent professional, and they are able to talk with you the same way.
You know the most interesting thing about this approach? It actually ends up resulting in MORE appointments. It gives you a better opportunity to engage in a discussion with the prospect, and you have already differentiated yourself from the competition.
A couple quick caveats to what I’ll call the “long haul” approach. One, it is not a silver bullet. You will not go from no appointments to more than you can handle. But you will see significantly more long-term success. Two, you and your sales manager need to have some patience with this approach. This is a longer-term process that is counter to what you’ve always been taught. But when you realize that the one-call close is mostly a myth anyway, you will ultimately gain more credibility, more appointments, and more sales.
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