How to make the first call to a new distributor, importer, or sales agent?
The first impression is very important so you have to be prepared.
It is necessary to be prepared on 2 fronts:
Let’s see in detail.
Prepare the contents
It may seem obvious, but it isn’t. When you call a new distributor or agent you must be prepared to answer all the possible questions.
My suggestion is to write down all the possible questions and respective answers.
Why is important to write it?
A professional is (usually) competent and prepared to answer possible questions.
However, when we are speaking on the telephone with a new person, we should be given precise answers without being too verbose and our speech must be very linear. When we talk live we can catch the non-verbal signals and we understand if the interlocutor is interested in learning more about a topic, but by phone, it is much more difficult. So it’s best to get straight to the point.
I recommend keeping an eye on the “answer and question file” during the phone call, it can be a useful guide to reminds all the important points. Again, it is a guide, be careful to not read the answer as if you are exposing content by heart.
I suggest updating the answer and question file whenever you receive new questions.
Finally, I recommend translating the question and answer file into the languages you speak. For example, I had one in English, one in Italian, and one in Spanish.
This is particularly useful because we tend to expose less effectively in a language that is different from the mother tongue.
Prepare the style of the call
Unfortunately, we are all bombarded with spamming telephone sales, so many people tend to be very defensive when they received a call from a new number.
It is very important in the first seconds of the call to make it clear that we are not spammers, but a serious company.
Each person develops its own style over the years and there is no golden rule on how to make perfect phone calls. Based on my personal experience, I give you some tips that, at least in my case, have worked.
Think about what you want to say before starting the call
I experienced that is more effective to start the call with a very short introduction of 5 seconds, and immediately explain how you got the number, or why you are calling.
Long introductions are less effective because people tend to focus on the subject of the conversation only in a second moment, when they understand the reason for the call and are interested in knowing more.
It is important to explain the reason for the call in an effective way to attract attention.
Since you are calling a potential business partner for which you made research, you can show that you know its company.
For example, you can say something like “I have seen your stand last year at the Milan industrial robot trade fair”, it is not important that you have been there, it is an excuse. Just make sure that the company had an expo stand there!
What is important is to attract attention and obtain the availability of the interlocutor to listen.
Don’t start the call with a too enthusiastic tone
Often professional callers for telephone promotion have a tone of voice that is too bright and enthusiastic and sound unnatural.
I recommend talking naturally on the phone.
Record the first calls you make
I recommend recording some calls that you make to understand if you are doing well or not.
It is hard to evaluate your own performance while you speaking: do you talk too fast? Or do you use too many interlayers (words or sounds)? Is your speech was linear? Etc
Usually, colleagues do not give feedback about these aspects because in our culture sounds inappropriate to point out such errors.
It is difficult to notice these mistakes and listening to the recorded audio, it is an easy way to realize for yourself about your performance.
Always remember to follow an email at the end of the call
At the end of the call, you have to ask for an email address (even if you have already found it online) and tell the interlocutor that you will send an email with a company presentation.
Send the email by the end of the day, in which :
- Make a brief recap of the call
- Attach a brief presentation of your company (preferably short)
- Answer any questions that you were unable to answer during the call, or that you may not have answered linearly or exhaustively.
It is very important to send this email for several reasons:
- The interlocutor will remember you more easily and will have your contact, it is not uncommon for a person to forget to save the number at the end of the call.
- It helps you to track the business partners you have contacted.
- Thanks to the company presentation and the company website attached the interlocutor will be able to know something more about you and your products. By phone it is impossible to explain all your products or services, perhaps the distributor is not interested in your main product line, but in a secondary product line that you did not think about (it can happen).
These are some tips that have been effective for me, but there is no golden rule, and it is necessary to practice. Also, a person can have a style that is very effective even if in contrast with some points I have written above.
Finally, is it better to send an email or call?
There are various points of view, in my opinion, it depends on some factors, in some cases the phone call is more effective, while in others the email is the best option.
However, it is a long topic and I wrote a dedicated article about it.