How to Get a Prospect on the Line
If you have been canvassing and collecting samples, refer to one of the buyer’s samples in your call. If you have obtained a “loose” referral, name the person who referred you. (A loose, or indirect, referral occurs when someone says something like, “Why don’t you call on Charlie at Suspect Manufacturing and use my name.” A tight, or direct, referral is one where the referrer speaks to the prospect on your behalf.)
Mention the sample specifically to the buyer. Start with, “I’m calling about your product catalog.” Depending on the size of the print-buying company, its catalog may be of major importance to the sales manager, marketing director or CEO. The person who most relies on the item is the one you want to reach.
If you cannot get past the receptionist, state who you are and why you are calling. Ask the receptionist, “If you were in my shoes, how would you get an appointment with Ms. Prospect? We are doing good things for companies like yours, and some of our ideas may work for your company.”
Pause for a few seconds. You have now asked another human being for advice, and since receptionists are not usually called on for advice, many will be flattered by your candor. This conversation can take many twists. You will know you are on the right track if you get information about your prospect’s work, buying and/or appointment habits. You may learn that your contact has no authority to buy graphic arts; and you may even get the name of the right person.
If you have no luck during you calls to prospects, try calling the sales manager. Even though the sales manager may have nothing to do with buying graphic arts, you can say that your “market research” has indicated that this company is an ideal candidate for your company’s mix of equipment, creativity and expertise.
Harris DeWese is the author of "Now Get Out There and Sell Something." He is chairman/CEO at Compass Capital Partners and an author of the annual "Compass Report," the definitive source of info regarding printing industry M&A activity. DeWese has completed 100-plus printing company transactions and is viewed as the preeminent deal maker in the industry. He specializes in investment banking, M&A, sales, marketing and management services to printers.