1. Sending information when people ask for it at the drop of a hat
2. Being overly precious and pushing a prospect hard before agreeing to send it.
There is certainly a strong case to be made for valuing your business, time and materials. That suggests that you shouldn’t simply send info out when requested.
That thought process is valid not least when often (a) you can’t get hold of the person when you call back as promised (b) when you do reach them they say they haven’t read it and give you the run around every time you call and (c) they say they didn’t receive it and can you send it again??
So is there a middle ground? We believe there is. Some aspects are about using appropriate techniques and others relate to recognising that people are busy and you may want your company information in front of prospects when it is appropriate and timely for them.
Our view is that mostly it is about rapport. It is equally about ensuring that the seller’s reputation is enhanced rather than damaged. It is definitely about engagement and building rapport before adopting Option 2 above if this is what’s required.
It is also absolutely about making sure in advance that the company and individual you are talking to are appropriate target prospects for your business.
There is of course the inherent danger with sending information that once you give prospects the information, and you follow up with a call you will be told, "We looked at the information, and we aren't interested." You therefore risk providing them with the info that you wanted to discuss with them face to face and them making a summary decision without all of the facts to hand.
Our view is that we shouldn’t judge the request on its own without considering other factors.
In the first instance the purpose of the call should be clear and the proposition compelling. There should ideally be a strong call to action. Arguably, the reason why a prospect feels compelled to ask for more info is because the proposition isn’t interesting enough to warrant a face to face meeting. However, let’s say that they are simply rushed and under pressure but will have some time at another time to review something they receive in the post or by email. I accept that this isn’t always likely.
One option is to say that, rather than send info that isn’t tailored to their needs (assuming that’s possible) you will call back at a more convenient time. That seems to make sense. However, given the difficulty of reaching decision-makers in the first place, it may be better to strike while the iron is hot by sending something for that follow-up call.
Another approach is to be much more forceful. For example you might say "I'm sorry john. We have a policy about not sending out literature. I only see people in person."
The theory is that if they don't respect the way you do business, then so be it. At least you haven't wasted your time and energy on someone who was never going to turn into a client
I’m not sure I agree with this one for three main reasons.
- It is an aggressive approach (albeit it can be softened by tone and style). Cold prospects are unlikely to respond to such an assertive stance
- Most businesses are commoditised nowadays and there is less and less differentiation. So why should they see you and absorb their precious time rather than assess what you have first?
- If you have correctly defined your target market, and they already have a supplier of your services and they are not due for change, it will be important to engage with them in advance of the need or next change of supplier. Your collateral (including a link to your website) should be therefore compelling enough to encourage them to retain it for the future and it should be a memory jog for the ‘agreed’ follow-up call.
- What you’re selling (e.g. is it complex or simple, differentiated or unique etc)
- The rapport you’ve generated on the phone before the request
- Their perceived level of interest and enthusiasm when the prospect asks for the information
- Whether the request is a condition for a meeting
In an ideal world, any info you send out needs to be tailored. To tailor it, you need to ask questions which again in an ideal world could be asked at a meeting. So once again, a meeting is preferable.
However, if that isn’t possible, ask questions about how the information will be used and why it is desired and also when they will review it and importantly on that basis when you can call back to discuss it. Don’t be afraid to say something like ‘that’s fine John, happy to send some info over. Can I ask, what in particular would you like more information on?’
It’s important to engage. So you might use something like "I'd love to send you some information John, but we have all kinds of stuff, can you tell me a bit more specifically what you would like to know?’
And also ‘that’s great. I’ll send it over. Oh and I hope you don’t mind me asking John but some people I talk to are uncomfortable about telling me that they’re not really interested so they tend to ask for information. That’s not happening here is it?’
If they say it isn’t the case, then you are on more secure ground to say ‘great, so if I call you back on Tuesday, you will have had the chance to review it and we can talk about getting together’
Whatever you do, don’t submerge your prospective client with information. The more you send the less the need to meet. So take great care to put together something that whets their appetite and ideally provokes them to call back for a meeting.
Visit our website for the Top 10 Tips to deal with requests for further information. Or for more hints, tips and help with telemarketing, please visit our Knowledge Bank.