Today I spoke with another small business owner friend of mine and the recession and how it was affecting sales came up. He was complaining that he had no idea why his salespeople just couldn't seal the deal so I asked him what their method of making contacts was. I was not very surprised to hear him say that they were making initial contact via telephone and then actively pursuing all interested potential clients with a face to face meeting.
Let's stop and think about that for a second...who are some of the most hated people anyplace? Telemarketers...With that being known, I would never attempt to make initial contact with a potential client over the phone.
I initiate contact with a visit to the clients office where I request a meeting with the person that makes the decisions. If I have done my homework beforehand, I already know this individuals name. I may or may not get the meeting depending on how much of a power trip the secretary (henceforth known as the gatekeeper) is on.
Quick Tip on bypassing the gatekeepers: Dress for success and carry yourself in a professional manner. Gatekeepers are less likely to turn you away if they think you are somebody important.
Once you have managed to get a meeting, keep your business presentation between 3 and 5 minutes. If after your meeting, you are met with a "No" do not accept that as a final answer. Ask what the objection to doing business with your company is, perhaps it is something as minute as the price isn't right. Look for a viable solution to satisfy the objection and still land the deal but...and here is the important part...do not agree to any deal that puts your company in a situation you do not feel comfortable with. If you have to make a certain amount of money per job just to turn a profit, refuse to negotiate yourself into a bad deal. You will save yourself a lot of trouble later by standing your ground.
This method will not magically help you seal every deal but I guarantee you will get further through face to face meetings than you ever will over the phone.