Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Use follow ups to build customer relationship

Here I was now fairly confident of my cold calling skills. I had made good number of calls and got a fair amount of appointments. Whenever we went for a product demonstration, in most cases we instantly connected with the IT managers or Vice Presidents. They all got interested in the conversation when we started to talk of the benefits that Continuum provides. All the product demonstrations went very well. Now what..?

The big question was should we wait for them to call.. should we call... if we call what should we ask them? Should we ask them directly or beat around the bush? How do we go about doing the follow-ups?

"A follow up should ideally lead to a step forward" some wise sales guy advised me. And I think its so true.

But we still need a reason to call. At this point I realized, I can call them with some new information and take the conversation forward. This is like taking a step forward in your relationship. You don't jump the gun and ask the guy/gal to marry you, do you? You build the relationship and then hopefully (if everything goes well) end up marrying that dream guy/gal. Same is the case with the customer. Of course you don't end up marrying him but end up closing the deal if everything works out well. In the end, I realized that the extra effort you put into building a relationship gives you loyal customers.

Monday, May 12, 2008

My First Cold Call...

Ever heard of cold calling..? Well, I had heard about all the stories of cold calling.. the life of a call center employee. Everything was just hear say... till one day I had to pick up the phone and make a call. A call that would be made to a perfect stranger.

Our product, Continuum, was ready for the market. We had toiled hard to implement our enterprise level solution. As developers, we were extremely proud of solution. Then the day came when it was decided that we now launch the product. In contrast to a big bang, the launch would be a quiet affair. A few calls and we should have our customers listening...! Did i say "a few calls and we should have our customers listening"..? I know the experts in this field would laugh at this statement... so do we, now that we have realized how long can sales cycle get.

Anyways, so I had to make my first cold call. Normally I am a good talker.. so I thought how difficult would it be to call someone. So what if I didn't know that person. I picked up the phone and opened with a good hello. Things were fine till this point. The receptionist who answered the phone had a sweet voice. But the minute I said I would like to talk to your project manager to discuss our product with him, her tone changed and she literally cut me off. I found it so rude. I was left there staring at my handset wondering what did I say wrong?

Slowly I picked up the tricks of the trade. Before I make a cold call, I make sure I do some background work on the company. I make sure my pitch is ready. I make sure I ask for a right person. I avoid being vague. After 5-6 calls, my convincing capacity increased and soon I could improvise as per the person on the other end of the line.

Hats off to all the call center employees who diligently pick up the phone to make that cold call!

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