If you've been in sales for more than a New York minute, you've dealt with the frustration of prospects and customers not returning your calls. Probably a thousand times.
In today's world, people are busier than ever, and phone calls are harder to get returned than ever before.
Especially if you're calling to sell something.
The bottom line: people aren't calling you back because they don't perceive getting back to you provides enough value to disrupt what they already have going on.
It's that simple.
As sales people, getting calls returned will always be one of the biggest obstacles we face. If you follow the seven steps below, you will surely increase your level of success.
1. Maintain updated, positive social media profiles
If a customer or prospect knows who you are before you call them, that increases the chance of them taking your call exponentionally. The easiest solution to that - be searchable online.
Fifteen or twenty years ago, the only way for that to happen was to be a celebrity. Today, social media has opened the ability to contact anyone, and for them to get a glimpse of who you are.
Word of caution: make sure who you are in your social media profiles paints an accurate picture of how you want to be perceived. In other words, if you wouldn't want a future employer to see pictures of your partying days in college, you certainly don't need current or future clients of yours seeing them either.
In your social media profiles, it's okay to be human. Show pictures of your family, what you do on the weekends, and things you're interested in. Personally, I believe this is the best part about social media.
You get to know the real person. Often times, before you ever meet them face to face.
2. Learn what your prospect will find valuable
A great example of this is in medical sales. The green reps right out of sales training come in ready to pitch features and benefits. The pros take some time to do research, find out where the pain points are, what strategies and projects the prospect is trying to implement, and engage them in that discussion first.
Obviously, the product being sold is one of the fixes that aligns with the strategy, but that's not where you start with a customer.
3. Lead with a text message
Texting someone is far more likely to get a response than a phone call nowadays. I've found this to be true in the business world even more.
If someone is tied up in a meeting, on a phone call, or eyeball-deep in a report, they will not be very motivated to engage in a live discussion at that time.
However, a quick response by text, without getting pulled away and into a lengthy conversation, is much more likely to elicit a response, and often times to set a meeting.
4. Include a specific call to action
A strong call to action, with specifics around how them calling you back can benefit them, is a must. This is especially true if you are targeting someone in the c-suite.
Most prospects, especially people at that level, can sniff out very quickly if they're being contacted by an amateur or a professional.
5. Leave a voicemail AND send a text message
Leaving a voicemail should be mandatory, but it's not unreasonable in the day in age to leave a voicemail and send a text message.
If the prospect wants to call you back and have a discussion by phone, he can do that. However, often times they are willing to meet but just don't have the free time to call back for a discussion.
Recently, I've scheduled several appointments with prospects and customers by text. This also works extremely well in the medical industry selling to surgeons, providing you know them well enough for them to give you their cell phone number.
6. Be persistent
Face it. Some people just aren't good at getting back to people.
Most of the time they are just busy, meant to call back, then ten other things got dropped in their lap, and they forgot to get back to you.
Don't be afraid to be persistent and continue reaching out, even if you don't get a response initially.
7. Bring them more value
As you start building a relationship with a customer, constantly ask yourself, "What's truly important to this person?"
If you always maintain this attitude, and strive to align customers with ideas, strategies, and items that are important to them and the ones they care about, they will always make time for you.
That doesn't mean they will always agree with your idea or will purchase every time, but they will set aside time to hear you out.
In sales, that's all you can ask for. Once you're in front of the prospect, the rest is up to you.
If you can get a mutual friend to introduce you face-to-face to the prospect, that shortens the curve for the previous seven steps dramatically.
The personal validation from someone they trust can break down barriers faster than ANY other strategy. It's not always possible, but if you can set up more personal introductions, you'll notice a significant increase in the number of appointments you set.
What are your best strategies for getting calls returned?
Bret Barrie was a Hall-of-Fame and Presidents’ Club-winning sales rep and is a top-producing sales leader in the medical device industry. He is also the author of The Selling Edge: How to Reach the Top in any Sales Industry and Promoted: The Proven Path to Career Advancement. A baseball enthusiast and fitness junkie, he is happily married with three children and lives in the greater Sacramento area. For more information, visit bretbarrie.com.