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Posted by Andy Robling, Vice President of Client Development, Hays Canada on Tuesday, Jun 6, 2017
Prospecting new clients is a must if you want to grow your business. For the past 25 years working in sales and the last two years as the VP of Client Development at Hays, this is a regular task for me and for my team, and we keep working together to improve our performance. Last year, Sean Byrne, Key Account Manager in our Toronto office, closed a deal with a major client after a prospecting call and was rewarded with a trip for two to New York.
So, how can you impress a potential client or customer in a first meeting or call? That’s not an easy task if you’re not well prepared. Building clients relations and growing them is essential in sales and that first connection can dictate if you’re going to succeed or fail. It’s important that you’re confident about your approach, objectives and goals.
With the tips below, you can master winning new business:
Nowadays, technology makes it easier to find and connect with people. Most people’s names and work contact information is just a search away. However, it takes a lot more than a phone number to be successful on the phone. This is a step that I think a lot of people skip, or spend less time on than they should.
Who are you going to talk to and why? What’s your company’s history of working with them? What’s happening in their company or industry at the moment? What insights do you have that are going to be relevant and of interest to them? These answers will guide you on how to impress on your first meeting with a client.
“I’ll look at a company website to see if there’s any news or announcements, and check whether they’re hiring. There’s a bit of profiling there – is it worth my time to talk to them? But if it is, then that information could be my conversation starter,” Sean says. “Then I’ll check our database and see if we’ve worked with them in the past or if other regions are working with them. Even if it was a long time ago and the information is out of date, it’s still useful to see that history, and it could give me a name to drop into the conversation.”
2. Set objectives
Not every call or meeting is going to have the same goals or outcomes. If you’re cold calling, sometimes the goal will just be to figure out who the right person to talk to is. If you go into a cold call thinking that your objective is to get someone to sign a contract then you’re less likely to see the results you’re looking for.
The key is to be clear going into the call or meeting on what you want to achieve. That clarity will help you find the best approach to getting to the next stage.
“If I want to confirm the information I’ve got, or find out which department has decision-making authority, then often I’ll say that my director asked me to call them – it shows that they’re important to us and it’s not just another scripted sales call,” Sean says. “I’ll say ‘I’d really like to work with you, are you the best person to talk to?’ and their answer gives me more information for the next call.”
3. Ask the right questions
I think the most common mistake I see is salespeople thinking that talking more about their product or service is the best way to sell it. It’s the reason so many people dread sales calls – because they think they’re going to get a lecture about all the features before they are invited to talk about their business needs.
You should be listening more than you talk on most calls. Ask the right questions, probe for what their needs are because you’ll be more informed when you do start talking about your service.
“I try to build a bit of rapport by asking them something that’s not work related – about their weekend or their commute – something that gets them to open up a bit. People like to talk about themselves, and they can tell if you’re genuinely asking,” Sean says. “Then I’ll ask about what niche roles they’re struggling to fill – or about how they’re feeling in their role.”
Don’t assume that you know what your contact needs before you talk to them. It might turn out that they need a bigger solution than you anticipated, or that you need to refer them to one of your colleagues, but you won’t find that out unless you ask the right questions.
Bonus: Confirm a follow up before you end the call
“I never leave a call without something – a new name, a follow up booked, or a new bit of information,” Sean says. “At this time of year I’ll ask if they’ve seen the salary guide and do they want me to come by to drop one off, or if they’ve got that then I’ll talk about the Fit series that we put out last year, or the Hays Journal. The great thing about working at Hays is that there’s always something to offer that you know HR or the hiring manager will love.
With time and effort, you can succeed in prospecting new clients. However, it’s essential that you plan and be well prepared before going to that meeting or call. A good first impression of you can bring long-term relationships with clients and open doors to new ones.
Do you want to have the right tools to succeed in sales? With Hays, you’ll receive industry leading training programs and mentorship from the best in the business. Join our team!
Andy Robling is Vice President of Client Development for Hays Canada nationally. This is a new role for Hays Canada, with purpose to invest in the development of our top clients. Andy moved to Toronto in 2013 to step into the VP of GTA role overseeing the Mississauga and Toronto parts of the business. Before moving to Canada he held a number of senior roles within Hays in the UK.
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