Many sellers ask me what they should add to or say in an initial telephone prospecting call. Having listened to and analyzed thousands of calls, I have come to the conclusion that most sales would make great strides if they first focused on what to leave out of their calls. There are things that people say in the call that make sense based in “normal” situations, but prospecting, cold calling people who you have never spoken to, who are not expecting your call, not looking for your product, and were busy doing something they thought was important at the time you called.
As discussed in the past, your prospect has heard it all before, if they get five calls a day, that’s 25 a week, 1,200 a year, some 6,000 calls over the last five years, so you have to break through the apathy and “deafness” if you are to have any chance at all. This means not just being different from the others, but sounding different than all the other callers they’ll encounter this week.
To help you avoid sounding like the also rans who did not get the deal, here are three things to leave out of your initial prospecting call; BTW, I have heard all of these in the last week, by people who most would consider to be “good” sales people. Here we go:
- How are you? – I know it sounds simple, polite, and innocent, but it adds little if anything to the call, and opens some risk. I have a very binary view of initial calls, if something does not add measurable upside to the call does not belong in the call, “how are you?” is definitely one. It is one the things that we hate about the calls we get in the middle of dinner, where a strange voice asks how you are as though they were your best friends concerned about your day. Skip it, respect their time and intelligence, instead of asking how they are, get to why you are calling.
- Is this a good time? – No! As I have spoken about on this blog in the past, our job is that of “professional disruptors”, professional interrupters. By definition, a cold call is when we call someone who does not know us, is not expecting our call, but fits the profile of someone who would benefit from out offering. With all that, no it is not a good time, but I really don’t care, because I have something important for the prospect, something that will help them achieve their objectives and improve their business.
- Who is in Charge Of? – I know, but this still goes on. Wanna tell a prospect you don’t care, you can’t be bothered, or that you really don’t enjoy your job, just start the call like that. I swear if I had a dollar for every time I hear that each week, I could subsidize my coffee habit. It is no longer impossible to find anyone, and if all else fails, ask for a specific title, “May I speak to the VP of Operations”. Or pick an afternoon and call in advance to collect names to be ready when you make the money call.
Now I know some will sit there and say “I know this, this is too basic”, and you would be right, which is what makes these kind of calls so wrong.