Welcome to The Fordyce Letter:

The Fordyce Letter

Straight Talk for the Recruiting Profession


Cold Calling, How-To

Part 2: Follow-up Calls That Seal the Deal


1 comment

Punctuality

Last week, in part one, we discussed that a follow-up call to a prospect is often far more important than the initial cold call. In the follow-up value and trust are further created and developed. This is where you REALLY need to shine. It is at this moment that you begin to brand yourself as a distinctive, ‘top-of-the-line’ recruiter.

Now we’ll look at the four remaining tips. These will give you that competitive edge when you make that follow-up call. Follow these tips consistently and you’ll see a marked improvement on your sales results.

Tip #5: Call on time

Don’t start your relationship on the wrong foot. Call on time.

Never, ever be late with your follow-up call. Not even by a minute. The promptness and respect you show on a follow-up call reflects on you, your company, and your service. This is especially true if you used the quarter hour technique. If you said you were going to call at 10:45 you can bet there are clients who will check the clock to see if you met your commitment.

People might argue that five minutes late here and there is no big deal. Wrong. It is. It can create a negative impression. For instance, if you can’t meet your follow-up commitment on time, it suggests other commitments (e.g., promised dates for resumes) might be in jeopardy, too.

Use alarms

No one ever sets out to be five minutes late. Lateness typically occurs because we’re in a meeting or we get caught up on a phone call that runs a few minutes late. It happens.

Of course what this really means is that you MUST use the alarms or appointment notifications on your cell phones, software, or whatever. This may be a ‘no brainer’ tip but it is critical. The neat thing about an Outlook reminder is that it also sends you a visual and audio reminder of the call.

Tip #6: Avoid opening statement blunders

Here is where so many recruitment specialists (and many others) stumble and fall: Their opening statements are weak. Here some of the classic follow up opening statement blunders:

  • “I was calling to follow up on the proposal.”
  •  “I am calling to see if you had any question on the brochure.”
  • “I just wanted to make sure you got my email.”
  • “The reason for my follow-up was to see if you had come to a decision.”

It is not that these opening statements are poor. Rather it’s that they’re routine, commonplace, and mediocre. They do nothing — absolutely nothing — to position you or differentiate you from all the other sales reps that make follow-up calls. What this really means is that you are perceived as yet another run of the mill vendor looking for a sale. No brand.

A weak opening statement may not lose you the sale, but it certainly starts you off on the wrong foot. Why do that? Why make your follow-up as bland and vanilla-like as all the rest when you have the opportunity to set yourself apart?  You need a little more pizzazz.

Tip #7: Cut through the clutter with a better opening

A good opening statement for a follow-up call that goes “pop” has four simple components: Your name; Company; Call reminder, and; Agenda.

1. State your full name

This is almost too easy but don’t get complacent. Remember, you’re probably one of many vendors. Calling up and saying, “Hey Emilie, it’s Craig calling,” is presumptuous and dangerous. Start off right: state your full name.

2. State your company name

For the same reasons as above, identify your company. Duh! They may not remember. Or they might confuse you with a competitor. Don’t risk it. Make that opener user-friendly.

3. Remind the prospect why you are calling

The third step is where you differentiate yourself and create that competitive edge, that little ‘something’ that impresses the prospect.

It’s simple. Start by explaining to the prospect why you are calling by reminding him/her about what prompted the follow-up call. You do this by referencing the motivators /needs you identified in your initial calls. It means referencing the “pain” or the “gain” that was previously uncovered. For instance,

Emilie, this is Craig Domani calling from ABC Recruitment Strategists for our 8:45 appointment.

Emilie, when we spoke last week you had two concerns. First, you indicated that the time and effort you were taking to find well-qualified sales reps was frustrating. I believe you’ve been searching for about six weeks and it is impacting sales results.

Second, you indicated that the quality of the candidates you’ve interviewed was not up to par; “grotesquely disappointing” is what I think you said. You found this frustrating.

Does that about summarize the situation?

Craig reminds Emile why she agreed to his call. He does this because he knows clients are busy; they forget; and the urgency of last week may not seem so urgent this week. Notice that he gets her confirmation with a quick verification question.

NOTE: Should you build a little rapport first? This depends on the nature of the first call. If you built a degree of rapport in your first call, carry it on in the follow-up. Once you’ve kibitzed you can summarize the situation as above. If the first call was very business-like then maintain the business like focus.

4. Provide an agenda

The final component to your opener is to provide a reminder of the agenda of what you’d like to accomplish with the call. You did send it out earlier, right?:

Emilie, as I indicated in my email this morning (or yesterday), what I would like to recommend at this stage is two things. First, let’s review the recruitment strategies in the proposal and then I can tackle any questions you might have. Finally, if it makes sense to do so, let’s determine the next steps, if any. How does that sound?

Clients like a clear, concise agenda. They want a recruiter who is organized and doesn’t waste their time. They want someone to take control and move the call forward. This gives them confidence. What you do on the phone subconsciously reflects what you will do for them as a vendor.

Notice the question at the end of the last example. The recruiter seeks the client’s approval for the game plan he has established. This not only gets the prospect involved, it also gives her the opportunity to modify or change the approach to the call.

Minimize fear

Take note of how Craig the recruiter repeats a theme that he established in the first call and in his follow-up email. He indicates they will “determine the next steps if any.” It’s a nice touch and reduces client resistance by minimizing the ‘fear’ of being sold.

Tip # 8: Be persistent, polite, and professional — but not a pest

If you follow this formula, about 70% of the time the client is there waiting for your call. But, that leaves 30% who are not for one reason or another. So here’s what to do:

Leave a Message: First, leave a message so that she knows YOU called on time. For example,

Hi Emilie, it’s ____ from ________ calling for our 8:45 appointment. Sounds like you might be tied up for a few moments. I’ll call in 10 minutes if I haven’t heard from you. In the meantime, my number is ______

Call Back in 10 Minutes: Second, call back in exactly 10 minutes. This tells the client that you are not only persistent but you continue to keep your word.

Leave another message: Third, if the prospect is still not there leave another message such as this:

Hi Emilie, it’s ___ from ___, following up on our 8:45 appointment. Looks like you’re still tied up. Please give me a call when you’re free at —– —–, otherwise I will call you later this morning or early this afternoon. In the meantime, I’ll send you a quick email.

Send an email: Fourth, send an email right after you leave your second voice mail message. Sometimes prospects are in meetings or down the hall, and don’t have access to their telephones. But many have Blackberries and other smart phones so a quick email message might act as a prompt to get them to respond sooner rather than later.

Again, your subject line is the most important part. You want to catch their eye and open it immediately in case they’re giving their phone a quick glance. For example, “Emilie, our 8:45 telephone appointment?”

If the client looks at nothing more than the subject line she sees the main message. It might be all that is needed get them to zip on over to a phone.

The body of the message should be short and diplomatic:

Hi Emilie,

Just a quick email about our call that we had scheduled for 8:45 this morning regarding the sales rep vacancies that seem to be causing you a concern.

Perhaps you are caught up in a meeting and unable to make the call. No problem; we can reschedule. Could you please call me or email me with an alternative time and I’ll be glad to call you then.

No fuss, no muss. It’s gentle reminder that they missed the appointment but it doesn’t belabor the point. Then it goes on to positively request a follow up date and time.

Wait for 3-4 hours: So far, you’ve been persistent without being a pest. Now, give the prospect a chance to call back or email. This is tough because every fiber in your body will be yearning to pick up the phone every twenty minutes.

A good rule of thumb is to wait a half a day. Three to four hours is plenty of time for the prospect to call, and more importantly, it doesn’t make you look desperate or annoying. There could be any number of reasons why the prospect did not take your call so you have to let nature take its course, and see what happens.

Leave another message: The sixth thing you should do if you haven’t heard from the client in 3-4 hours is to call back again. It’s a little assertive but remember: They broke the appointment, so you have the right to be a little persistent.

The trick here is to play humble by suggesting that maybe you made a mistake in the follow-up time:

Emilie, it’s _____ from ________I called a couple of times today, but as of yet we have not been able to connect regarding our 8:45 appointment. I am not certain but I may have messed up the time for the appointment, so if I have, please forgive me.

Would you please give me a call and we can reschedule another time to discuss some strategies to get better-qualified candidates?

My number is_________ Or simply reply to my email that I sent earlier today with another date and time.

Notice how the recruiter reminds Emilie of the appointment at 8:45 but does not make her feel guilty or embarrassed by using the phrase “. . . but as of yet we have not been able to connect.” It vaguely implies that perhaps Emilie tried to call back but was unable to reach you. This ‘saving grace’ technique can be very effective for the prospect who is a little embarrassed that they may have forgotten the appointment.

Another saving grace technique is the phrase, “I may have messed up the time for the appointment so, if I have, please forgive me.” Of course, you didn’t mess up, the prospect did. But by shouldering the responsibility you are making it easier for the Emilies of the world to call back. In addition, this ploy, ever so slightly, creates a sense of guilt on behalf of the prospect for not giving you the courtesy of a return call. This might convince some of your prospects to respond.

Finally, notice that the recruitment specialist reminds the client about their early talks and the “pain” the prospect was experiencing. In effect, he wants Emilie to think, “Oh yeah. Filling that vacancy is nagging me. I better get back to him.”

Other tips and tactics: Give the above message time to work. Again, the rule of thumb is half a day. You don’t want to harass your prospect but if there is no reply after a few hours, you can do a few other things:

  • Use the Receptionist. At this point, don’t be shy to call the receptionist or admin and ask if the prospect is in today. This will tell you a lot. If they are not, then the missed call was legitimate. If they are in, well, be skeptical but hold off on the panic. What is neat here is that you can tell the receptionist that you had an appointment. But be careful not to sound petulant. Sour grapes buys no friends.
  • Call Display. Sometimes the prospect is dodging your call but you never really know for sure. There could be any number of reasons that cause the delay and you need to find out. The real culprit at this stage may be call display. The prospect sees the number and does not pick up the phone. Here are a couple of things you can do:
  • Use your cell phone. If you have a cell phone, use it. The prospect won’t recognize the number and may pick up.
  • Call from a pay phone. This powerful little technique means you have to leave the building and go for a walk. Find a coffee shop, get a coffee, and call from a pay phone. This tactic works like a charm. If the prospect is there, they will answer. Who wouldn’t? If they ask you about the pay phone, tell them the truth: You were getting coffee and decided to make a quick call.
  • Call a neighboring extension. If your prospect is at extension 432 and you do not get an answer, try extensions 431 or 433. The phones and the offices might be in sequence. If you get a hold of someone explain you are trying to reach your prospect. Ask if they’d take a quick look to see if he’s available. If the prospect is there, have the neighbor transfer the call. You will either get the prospect or not. Either way you will have a better understanding of things.

Implications: If these techniques don’t work it suggests that the prospect has lost interest or never had any interest at al,l and was simply blowing you off. Discouraging, yes, but at least you know and you can honestly say you did everything you could. That’s more than most reps. Studies vary but typically over 95% of sales reps quit following up after the second call. This is staggering. Don’t be a part of this statistic.

Summary

A thorough follow-up process is not rocket science, but it is a precise science. Having solid follow-up strategies and tactics will separate you from the dozens of other recruiters and specialists who are calling the same prospect. It will distinguish you from them and give an edge. By having templates, scripts, and time-frames you’ll be far more effective and efficient.

Make the most of your follow up calls and watch your sales grow.

 

Last month we discussed that a follow up call to a prospect is often far more important than the initial cold call. In the follow up call, value and trust are further created and developed. This is where you REALLY need to shine. It is at this moment that you begin to brand yourself as a distinctive, ‘top-of-the-line’ recruiter.

 

This month we’ll look at the four remaining tips that will give you that competitive edge when you make that follow up call. Follow these tips consistently and you’ll see a marked improvement on your sales results. 

 

Tip #5:

Call on time

 

Don’t start your relationship on the wrong foot. Call on time.

 

Never, ever be late with your follow up call. Not even by a minute. The promptness and respect you show on a follow up call reflects on you, your company, and your service. This is especially true if you used the quarter hour technique. If you said you were going to call at 10:45 you can bet there are clients who will check the clock to see if you met your commitment.

 

People might argue that five minutes late here and there is no big deal. Wrong. It is. At a subconscious or conscious level it can create a negative impression. For instance, if you can’t meet your follow up commitment on time, it suggests other commitments (e.g., promised dates for resumes) might be in jeopardy too.

 

PERFECT TIP: Use Alarms. No one ever sets out to be five minutes late. Lateness typically occurs because we’re meetings or we get caught up on a phone call that goes a few minutes late. It happens.

 

Of course what this really means is that you MUST use the alarms or appointment notifications on your cell phones, software, or whatever. This may be a ‘no brainer’ tip but it is critical. The neat thing about an Outlook reminder is that it also sends YOU a visual and audio reminder of the call.

 

Tip #6:

 Avoid opening statement blunders that most sales reps make

 

Here is where so many recruitment specialists (and many others) stumble and fall: their opening statements are weak. Here some of the classic follow up opening statements blunders:

 

·    “I was calling to follow up on the proposal.”

·     “I am calling to see if you had any question on the brochure.”

·    “I just wanted to make sure you got my email.”

·    “The reason for my follow up was to see if you had come to a decision.”

 

It is not that these opening statements are poor but rather it’s that they’re routine, commonplace and mediocre. They do nothing – absolutely nothing — to position you or differentiate you from all the other sales reps that make follow up calls. What this really means is that you are perceived as “yet another run of the mill vendor” looking for a sale. No brand.

 

A weak opening statement may not lose you the sale but it certainly starts you off on the wrong foot. Why do that? Why make your follow up as bland and vanilla-like as all the rest when you have the opportunity to set yourself apart.  You need a little more pizzazz.

 

Tip #7: Build a follow up opening statement that gets through the clutter.

 

A good opening statement for a follow up call that goes “pop” has four simple components.

 

1. State Your Full Name

 

This is almost too easy but don’t get complacent. Remember, you probably one of many vendors. Calling up and saying, “Hey Emilie, it’s Craig calling,” is presumptuous and dangerous. Start off right: state your full name.

 

2. State Your Company Name

 

For the same reasons as above, identify your company. Duh! They may not remember. Or they might confuse you with a competitor. Don’t risk it. Make that opener user friendly.

 

3. Remind the prospect why you are calling and the motivators that led to this stage

 

The third step is where you differentiate yourself and create that competitive edge, that little ‘something’ that impresses the prospect.

 

It’s simple. Start by explaining to the prospect why you are calling by reminding him/her about what prompted the follow up call in the first place. You do this by referencing the motivators /needs that you identified in your initial calls. It means referencing the “pain” or the “gain” that was previously uncovered. For instance,

 

“Emilie, this is Craig Domani calling from ABC Recruitment Strategists for our 8:45 appointment.

 

 “Emilie, when we spoke last week you had two concerns. First, you indicated that the time and effort you were taking to find well-qualified sales reps was frustrating. I believe you’ve been searching for about six weeks and it is impacting sales results.

 

Second, you indicated that the quality of the candidates you’ve interviewed was not up to par; “grotesquely disappointing” is what I think you said. You found this frustrating.

 

“Does that about summarize the situation?”

 

Craig reminds Emile why she agreed to this call. He does this because he knows that clients are busy; that they forget; or that the urgency of last week may not seem so urgent this week. So… he scratches at the scab. Notice that he gets her confirmation with a quick verification question.

 

NOTE: Should you build a little rapport first? This depends on the nature of the first call. If you built a degree of rapport in your first call, carry it on in the follow up. Once you’ve kibitzed you can summarize the situation as above. If the first call was very business-like then maintain the business like focus.

 

4. Provide an agenda

 

The final component to your opener is to provide an agenda of what you’d like to accomplish with the call.

 

“Emilie, as I indicated in my email this morning (or yesterday), what I would like to recommend at this stage is two things. First, let’s review the recruitment strategies in the proposal and then I can tackle any questions you might have. Finally, if it makes sense to do so, let’s determine the next steps…if any. How does that sound?”

 

Clients like a clear, concise agenda. They want a recruiter who is organized and doesn’t waste their time. They want someone to take control and move the call forward. This gives them confidence. What you do on the phone subconsciously reflects what you will do for them as a vendor.

 

Notice the question at the end of the last example. The recruiter seeks the client’s approval for the game plan he has established. This not only gets the prospect involved, it also gives her the opportunity to modify or change the approach to the call.

 

PERFECT TIP: Minimize fear. Take note of how Craig the recruiter repeats a theme that he established in the first call and in his follow up email. He indicates that they will “determine the next steps if any.” It’s a nice touch and reduces client resistance by minimizing the ‘fear’ of being sold.

 

Tip # 8:

No Answer? Be persistent, polite, and professional — but not a pest

 

If you follow this formula, about 70% of the time the client is there waiting for your call. But, that leaves 30% who are not for one reason or another. So here’s what to do:

 

  • Leave a Message

 

First, leave a message so that she knows YOU called on time. For example,

 

“Hi Emilie, it’s ____ from ________ calling for our 8:45 appointment. Sounds like you might be tied up for a few moments. I’ll call in 10 minutes if I haven’t heard from you. In the meantime, my number is ______”

 

  • Call Back in 10 Minutes

 

Second, call back in exactly ten minutes. This tells the client that you are not only persistent but you continue to keep your word.

 

  • Leave another message

 

Third, if the prospect is still not there leave another message such as this:

 

“Hi Emilie, it’s ___ from ___, following up on our 8:45 appointment. Looks like you’re still tied up. Please give me a call when you’re free at —– —–, otherwise I will call you later this morning or early this afternoon.

 

In the meantime, I’ll send you a quick email”

 

  • Send an Email

 

Fourth, send an email right after you leave your second voice mail message. Sometimes prospects are in meetings or down the hall and don’t have access to their telephones. But many have Blackberries and other smart phones so a quick email message might act as a prompt to get them to respond sooner rather than later.

 

Again, your subject line is the most important part. You want to catch their eye and open it immediately in case they’re giving their phone a quick glance. For example,

 

“Emilie, our 8:45 telephone appointment?”

 

If the client looks at nothing more than the subject line she sees the main message. It might be all that is needed get them to zip on over to a phone.

 

The body of the message should be short and diplomatic,

 

Hi Emilie,

 

Just a quick email about our call that we had scheduled for 8:45 this morning regarding the sales rep vacancies that seem to be causing you a concern.

 

Perhaps you are caught up in a meeting and unable to make the call.

 

No problem; we can reschedule. Could you please call me or email me with an alternative time and I’ll be glad to call you then.”

 

No fuss, no muss. It’s gentle reminder that they missed the appointment but it doesn’t belabor the point. Then it goes on to positively request a follow up date and time.

 

 

  • Wait for 3-4 hours

 

So far, you’ve been persistent without being a pest. Now, give the prospect a chance to call back or send you and email. This is tough because every fiber in your body will be yearning to pick up the phone every twenty minutes.

 

A good rule of thumb is to wait a half a day. Three to four hours is plenty of time and space for the prospect to call you and more importantly, it doesn’t make you look desperate or annoying. There could be any number of reasons why the prospect did not take your call so you have to let ‘nature take its course” and see what happens.

 

  • Leave another message

 

The sixth thing you should do if you haven’t heard from the client in 3-4 hours is to call back again. It’s a little assertive but remember: THEY broke the appointment so you have the right to be a little persistent.

 

The trick here is to play ‘humble’ by suggesting that maybe you made a mistake in the follow up time.

 

“Emilie, it’s _____ from ________I called a couple of times today but as of yet we have not been able to connect regarding our 8:45 appointment. I am not certain but I may have messed up the time for the appointment so if I have please forgive me.

 

Would you please give me a call and we can reschedule another time to discuss some strategies to get better-qualified candidates?

 

My number is_________

 

Or simply reply to my email that I sent earlier today with another date and time.

 

Notice how the recruiter reminds Emilie of the appointment at 8:45 but does not make her feel guilty or embarrassed by using the phrase “. . . but as of yet we have not been able to connect.” It vaguely implies that perhaps Emilie tried to call back but was unable to reach you. This ‘saving grace’ technique can be very effective for the prospect who is a little embarrassed that they may have forgotten the appointment.

 

Another saving grace technique is the phrase, “I may have messed up the time for the appointment so if I have please forgive me.” Of course, you didn’t mess up, the prospect did. But by shouldering the responsibility you are making it easier for the Emilies of the world to call back. In addition, this ploy ever so slightly creates a sense of ‘guilt’ on behalf of the prospect for not giving you the courtesy of a return call. This might convince some of your prospects to respond.

 

 Finally, notice that the recruitment specialist reminds the client about their early talks and the “pain” the prospect was experiencing. In effect, he wants Emilie to think, “Oh. . . ya . . . filling that vacancy is nagging me . . .I better get back to him.”

 

 

  • Other Tips and Tactics

 

Give the above message time to work. Again, the rule of thumb is half a day. You don’t want to harass your prospect but if there is no reply after a few hours, you can do a few other things:

 

v  Use the Receptionist. At this point, don’t be shy to call the receptionist or admin and ask if the prospect is in today. This will tell you a lot. If they are not, then the missed call was legitimate. If they are in, well…be skeptical but hold off on the panic. What is neat here is that you can tell the receptionist that you had an appointment. But be careful not to sound petulant. Sour grapes buys no friends.

 

v  Call Display? Sometimes the prospect is dodging your call but you never really know for sure. There could be any number of reasons that cause the delay and you need to find out. The real culprit at this stage may be call display. The prospect sees the number and does not pick up the phone. Here are a couple of things you can do:

 

·         Use your cell phone. If you have a cell phone, use it. The prospect won’t recognize the number and may pick up.

 

·         Call from a pay phone. This powerful little technique means you have to leave the building and go for a walk. Find a coffee shop, get a coffee, and call from a pay phone. This tactic works like a charm. If the prospect is there, they will answer. Who wouldn’t? If they ask you about the pay phone, tell them the truth: you were getting a coffee and decided to make a quick call.

 

·         Call a neighboring extension. If your prospect is at extension 432 and you do not get an answer, try extensions 431 or 433. The phones and the offices might be in sequence. If you get a hold of someone explain that you are trying to reach your prospect and ask if they’d take a quick look to see if he’s available. If prospect is there, you’ll know. Ask the neighbor to transfer the call. You will either get the prospect or not. Either way you will have a better understanding of things.

 

Implications

 

If these techniques don’t work it suggests that the prospect has lost interest or never had any interest at all and was simply blowing you off. Discouraging, yes, but at least you know and you can honestly say you did everything you could. That’s more than most reps. Studies vary but typically over 95% of sales reps quit following up after the second call. This is staggering. Don’t be a part of this statistic.

 

Summary

 

A thorough follow up process is not rocket science, but it is a precise science. Having solid follow up strategies and tactics will separate you from the dozens of other recruiters and specialist who are calling the same prospect. It will distinguish you from them and give an edge. By having templates, scripts and timeframes you’ll be far more effective and efficient.

 

 Make the most of your follow up calls and watch your sales grow.

Jim Domanski, president of Teleconcepts Consulting and writer/editor of Telesalesmaster.com has helped B2B telesales reps, tele-prospectors, consultants, advisers, trainers, coaches and entrepreneurs use the phone more effectively and successfully to sell and market their products. Jim has written four books on tele-sales including The Tele-Sales Coach. He’s been featured in such publications as The Financial Post, Sales and Marketing Management, Advertising Age, and The Globe and Mail. As a trainer and a coach, Jim is known for his common sense no-holds-barred-tell-it-like-it-is approach to workshops. He has trained dozens and dozens of companies and thousands of reps. Contact him at jim@teleconceptsconsulting.com or by phone at 613-591-1998.
  • Seth Cordes

    Hi Jim,

    Thanks for taking the time to put this article together. I found it quite useful.

    Just wanted to let you know that it appears the body text has been repeated twice in the post.

    Thought you’d like to know

    Best,

    Seth