Principle #1: Don’t come up with one idea.
Come up with several, and deploy them consistently over a two- or three-week period, and over a variety of media (phone/voicemail, email, traditional mail, dropping off a packet, etc.) Many prospects wait around for several attempts just to see if the vendor is taking their business seriously. Do you have the resilience to be the one that hangs in longer and more consistently than the competition?
Principle #2: Realize that many people—especially important business owners and managers—don’t take their desk phone seriously.
They’re confident that the people who know them really well are likely to have their cell number. When you’re inquiring about contact information in your early prospecting, it’s critical to ask for a mobile number.
Principle #3: Understand that even if you have their cell number, it is becoming rare that people listen to all of their voicemails.
How often have you heard this from one of your friends or associates: “Hi. I haven’t listened to the voicemail you left, because I thought it would be quicker to just call you back.” It happens a lot.
Principle #4: You shouldn’t take your desk phone seriously, either.
When you leave a message, leave your mobile number as the response path where they can reach you. Then be prepared to resume this sales conversation with little or no notice, regardless of where you are when that call is received. Do you know your VBR well enough that you can dive into it spontaneously? Are you prepared to ask for an opportune time to return the call, if you receive theirs at a time that might be inappropriate to talk business?
Principle #5: Once you’ve earned a dialogue with an important prospect, ask them to include you in their contacts database…
… and make sure they have your office phone, mobile number, and an email address you check seven days a week at all hours (six days a week if observing a Sabbath). Sorry, but that’s just a prerequisite to doing business these days, if we’re talking about target- and key-level accounts.
Good voicemails are necessary. But even more important, these days, is figuring out how you’ll hit a moving target.