What, exactly, do you SAY when you speak to prospects and networking contacts? How do you get a conversation going that leads to ultimately closing a sale? Here are some suggestions for where to begin a productive marketing conversation.
Cold Call to a Prospective Client
Do say: "I'm calling you because Jane Jones suggested you," or "I admire your work (book, article, interview, speaking topic, etc.)," or "We're both members of the ABC organization," or "We both went to (or taught at) the XYZ school," or "I'm going to be in your area next month," or "What I've read (or heard) about you suggests you may be interested in what I offer."
Tell the prospect why you chose to call him or her in particular. Don't let prospects think you simply looked them up on a list (even if you did).
Don't say: "I'm just calling to introduce myself." Why should they care?
Warm Call to a Prospective Client
Do say: "I'm calling to talk about your interest in my services," or "I've been thinking about your problem and I have some ideas for you," or "I'll have some open hours on my calendar next month. Would this be a good time to start your project?" or "I ran across an event (person, organization, book, article, etc.) I thought would interest you."
Give a straightforward reason for contacting a prospect that feels authentic to you. Don't dissemble. It's absolutely fine to tell a prospect you're calling to see if he or she is ready to work with you.
Don't say: "I'm calling just to see how you're doing." That's not really why, and your prospect knows it.
Networking at an Event
Do say: "Hi, I haven't met you yet," or "Are you a member of this group?" or "Have you heard this speaker before?" You can approach any stranger at the event with a simple opening line like this. Then introduce yourself by name and profession, and ask the other person what they do.
Don't say: "Isn't it hot today?" or "How about those Giants?" Networking time is precious, don't waste it with unrelated chit-chat.
Networking Cold Call
Do say: One of the why-I-chose-you openings suggested for cold calls to prospective clients, followed by "I'd like to talk to you about how we could help each other get more business."
Don't say: "I'd like to pick your brain," or "I'm wondering if you could refer me some clients," or "I'd like to talk to you about a business opportunity."
Networking Warm Call
Do say: "We met at the ABC event," or "We're both members of the XYZ group," or "Sam Smith introduced us," followed by "I'd like to get to know you better. Perhaps we could be of benefit to each other."
Don't say: "I'd like a few minutes of your time," or any of the don'ts listed for networking cold calls.
Face-to-Face Meeting with Prospect
Do say: "I'd like to find out more about what you need, tell you what I offer, and see if there's a possible match between us." Get to the point. Your prospects are busy and so are you.
Don't say: "I'd like to tell you about my services," or "I'm here just to find out what your needs are." Neither of those objectives are of much benefit to your prospect.
Face-to-Face Networking Meeting
Do say: "I'd like us to take some time today to learn about each other's work. Perhaps we could serve as referral sources for each other."
Don't say: A whole bunch of small talk without ever getting to the point of the meeting. Don't let the other person do this either.
Talking to people isn't as difficult as we sometimes think. Use some of these pointers for getting past that awkward hello, and you'll soon be conversing your way to more business.
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