Last post we talked about how you can help increase your business by creating active word of mouth. Going out and meeting people face-to-face can be a challenge, but by making it part of your routine, it can become easier. The same applies to our next topic: using the phone.
The good news about using the phone is that you can do it from anywhere, and you can potentially reach more people as there is no travel time between contacting leads. Just like with going to out and visiting potential customers, calling is all about building relationships.
To help you feel more at ease in making those calls we’re going to set out a few simple steps, and we’ll give you a few extra steps to take once you’re feeling more confident.
Who better to start calling than customers who’ve already made a purchase from you? We’ll expand on it further in its own article, but investing in your existing customers costs less than trying to attract new customers.
So make your existing customers the first people you call. Whether you just dropped of their order a few days ago, a few months ago, or last year. You’ve already built a rapport with them. But before you call them, you’re going to want to set out a few goals.
Start with a high level goal of simply touching base, reminding your customers that you exist. Depending on how much rapport you’ve built up with these customers you may need to give them some kind of reminder of who you are and what you do. So before you give them a call think about whether they’d recognize you by name, or if you need to give them a little reminder. Here are three different versions you can use when calling:
- Hi it’s Stephanie from Custom Creations.
- Hi it’s Stephanie, the t-shirt gal.
- Hi it’s Stephanie. I created the embroidered shirts for your charity fundraiser last summer.
Use the first one if you’re calling someone who does business with you regularly. They know your name, and they know your company. The second one could be used for a customer who recently made an order from you, and were a new customer – it was the first time they ordered from you. And the last one is for customers you haven’t heard from in a while, or if you’re calling a company and the contact you have no longer works there, it gives you an opportunity to introduce yourself to this new contact.
If you make an effort to call customers on a regular basis, the next time they need embroidered apparel your business will be on the top of their mind, and they’ll order from you.
Your next goal is it find out if they/their company has an immediate need. Perhaps you’re calling a company you did business with a year ago, and this time last year was when they made their order for their annual corporate event. If you give them a call, they might be just in the process of deciding on their shirts (or may have forgotten), and because you took the initiative to call, it saves them the hassle of shopping around. They’ll appreciate that you’re looking out for them.
If your niche is school sports apparel, you should already know when you get the busiest for each sport. So call those customers ahead of time – when will they need the jerseys by, how long are they going to take – so they’re not rushing to get their orders in, and you’re not rushing to get them done on time. The more you can spread out your jobs, the happier everyone will be.
If they don’t have an immediate need, ask them if they have any events coming up in the next 6 months, and let them know you’ll call them back then. In sales, you should always have a next step, a follow-up of some kind with customers and potential customers. People get busy, they forget things. They may forget to call you when they need something. Or they might be on the fence about ordering new shirts for this year’s events. If you call them, that might just tip them to make the order.
Your next goal, if they don’t have an immediate need is to ask if they know anyone who needs custom apparel. If your client just ordered from you last month, this could be your second goal, after you remind them who you are. If they just ordered from you, they’re likely not to need something again right away, but they might know someone who does. Here’s a script you can adapt for these types of calls:
“Hi it’s Stephanie from Custom Creations. How’d the shirts work out for your event last week? That’s awesome. BY the way, I’m looking to grow my business. Who do you know that might need some custom apparel?”
If they give you a name, awesome! If not, thank them anyways, and let them know that if they think of anyone you’d really appreciate it.
If you do get that referral’s phone number or email address, you can now do some relationship building, because when you call them you have a shared connection:
“Hi this Stephanie from Custom Creations. Justin from Corporate Company referred me to you. We just did some t-shirts for their event. What event do you have coming up that I can help with?”
Remember all those potential customers you contacted last week/month when you were getting out there, meeting people, and creating active word of mouth? Those are your prospects. The people who responded to you positively, and you were able to get contact information from them.
Prospects will also be the referrals you received from existing customers, and if you have a form on your website someone has filled in, or even on your Facebook page if they sent you a message inquiring about your services.
Once you’ve contacted all your existing customers, you’re going to want to start contacting your prospects. Again, you’re going to want to go in with goals in mind and you’re going to want a script.
“Hi, this is Stephanie from Custom Creations. I came by your shop last month in regards to custom apparel. I’m just calling to connect and find out what I can do for you.”
The goal at this stage is to move them up in terms of likelihood to business with you. They may not need anything right away, but is there potential that they’ll need something in the future. If you’re not comfortable asking “what can I do for you?” you can try a softer approach: “I get really busy over the summer/or I’m planning my schedule for the next two months, and so I wanted to find out if there was anything coming up for you that you might need apparel for, so I can make sure to schedule you in.”
Last post we set the goal of introducing yourself to 80 businesses in 1 month, and getting 40 potential customers out of it. Of those 40 prospects, how many do you think you can convert into paying customers? We think you could get 10% of those prospects into paying customers.
The prospects who aren’t ready to make a purchase? Find out if they might need something in the future. It gives you a reason and a time-frame of when you can follow up with them again.
These customers are people you’ve never spoken to before, so it may be a little bit more of a challenge. But you’ve called all your existing customers, your prospects, and now you’re ready. The good news is that you’re not just going to open a phone book or online directory and start calling every business in there.
We call them Likely customers, in part, because they are like your existing customers. Perhaps you do all the aprons for a local coffee shop. You can reach out to other local coffee shops/cafe’s etc. “I do the aprons for this coffee shop, and was just giving other local coffee shops a call to see if you might need some custom aprons too.”
Your goal is to see if they have an immediate need, but also to find out who the decision maker at the business is. You want to speak directly with them. If they’re there and available, great, if not, make sure you get their name, contact information, and if you can a time when you can call them back.
Getting it done
You now have your three customer segments. But before you start calling them, there’s a few thing you’ll need to do first:
- Set aside time, at least once a week to call customers. You’re probably going to want to set aside an hour, every couple of days, just so you don’t get burnt out.
- Remove all distractions. If you’ve set aside Tuesdays from 11-12, that means no emails, Facebook etc.
- Write out your scripts. Every call will be different, but determine key sentences you need to say in some form or another.
- Set out your goals in writing. Goals are easier to measure when you have set objectives written out.
Our last piece of advice is to just keep doing it. If you get turned down, or a person is rude, don’t stop calling your other customers. It’s just one person, and they might be rude because they’re having a bad day. Nine out ten times when you call someone they’re going to be pleasant, and perhaps even grateful you called, because they need your services.
If you stay positive and keep calling your existing customers, prospects, and likely customers, you are going to get more business.