Let’s begin by stating clearly that cold calling is alive, doing well as part of an overarching client acquisition process that includes other elements such as referrals and inbound marketing; in fact the only time it does not work is when you don’t do it, which is why it doesn’t work for many who choose not to do it. But if you are one of the ones who do, and are looking to improve, here are three things, in no specific order, you can do, or improve if you are already using these techniques.
1. Know whom you are calling! – Sounds simple, but you’d be surprised. I still see many people call, as well as receive calls from sales people who start the conversation by asking: “can you tell me who is in charge of your receivables?” (Or insert any function). It takes so little to find out who you should be talking to, but it pays so many dividends.
First, just by asking for the right person by name, shows that you have invested a minimal amount time and effort in advance of the call. Second, people respond to their names, if you want their attention, you need to shift their focus from what they were involved in when the phone rang, to the call; using their name to grab their attention before jumping into the rest of the call can be part of the difference.
2. Be specific, speak their language – Building on the above, know what they do, not just in terms of the company, but what they, their role, and department contribute to the success of their company. Speak specifically to that, nothing else; if they see you as fitting in to their current flow, you have the opportunity to engage, if it is outside of that flow, you’re toast, white bread and burnt!
We have heard it before, but this is not the time to speak about yourself or your company, the people who care about that are not on the call. Really, you want to succeed, forget about you and your company, no one cares that you are the “Senior Account Manager”, no one cares that you are a Fortune 500 company, not on this call. What they care about is the age old “What’s in it for me (my company)”. So stick to that, what have others in their role or position, accomplished using your offering? Deliver the meat they crave, and deliver it flavoured in a way they like and are willing to pay for. This means using their jargon, their reference points, their metrics, in the scenery that they live in. You can find this by looking at what specific value your current and past customers have realised with your offering. The upside is not only will you have great talking points, but also find that you have some great testimonials that you’ll be able to leverage in a number of ways.
3. Project confidence, it is infectious – One of the reasons sales people get rejected on cold calls is because they ask for it. They don’t come out and say it –”please reject me”, but just about everything else they do suggests that. As the recipient of the call is evaluating whether the interruption merits their time and attention, one of the factors is the confidence you project, not only in the call, and in the way your offering can help based on point 2., above. In addition, your overall confidence is key, no one wants to deal with a submissive, milli-mouthed, cap in hand talking advert for their company. This is most important in dealing with objections, contrary to popular belief, objections are not rejection, in most cases, when the call is handled right to that point, objections are an opportunity to create genuine dialogue. If like most sales people you treat it as a rejection, and begin to “defend” and push back, you come across as weak and lacking confidence, and the ability to articulate the value you potentially offer. Your lack of confidence distracts from the conversation, you may think you are being polite and respectful, but you’re not. You are coming across as weak and lacking confidence, and no one wants to deal with someone like that, especially when you are an unknown alternative to something they already have.
The above are a start, and need to be practiced, and constantly improved, but as you master them, you will see opportunities to tackle other barriers to prospecting success.
What’s in Your Pipeline?