Regardless of what some might tell you, there are elements of sales that are quite organic, and as a result there are lessons we can take from nature. One is that not all things that lead to real value start smoothly or simply, but as the process unfolds, the end result can be both a thing of beauty and value. That’s one way I like to look at prospecting, specifically telephone prospecting, yes cold calling.
I like to think of a cold call, the very start of an engagement with a prospect, as being very much like the start of the process in the making of a pearl. There is no denying that the pearl starts out as an irritant, an intrusion from the outside; but then over time, ongoing interaction, things develop, and where the end result is a thing of beauty and value.
Let’s be straight, I am not suggesting that you set out to irritate anyone intentionally, but at times you may not have a choice if you are going to help and win new customers. This is especially so with prospect who are removed from the market, the Status Quo, who left to their own, are not actively engaged in or thinking about buying anything, beyond “social” reach; this is usually in excess of 70% of you target market. These prospects, who are not self-declared buyers, may perceive the initial approach as a nuisance or aggravation.
I get it, cold calls are irritating, even cold calls that executed well; but I would also argue, not for the reason most think and fear. Sure bad calls are bad no matter what, but when done right, the reality is that we are making the prospect face things they have been able to ignore and burry, and avoid dealing with. They know what they have is not just far from not perfect, but not even close to ideal. It is just that they have decided that “the pain of the same is less that the pain of the change”. Initiating that change, the catalyst that leads to action, not just denying or ignoring the issue, may not be pleasant to start.
Those who a) understand that, and b) understand how they will manage the buyer experience, have the greatest success in telephone prospecting. To be successful at cold calls you need to be able to talk to outcomes and changes that will benefit the buyer and deliver the business impacts they are looking to achieve. This starts with understanding what outcomes you have been able to others in similar roles, in similar type of environments.
If you call a small fleet operator and initiate the call peaking about pains and needs they have not acknowledged, your fate is sealed before the first ring. Yet this is what most sales people and pundits go for: pains, needs, problems, (solutions), efficiencies, and all the things that prospects have turned a deaf ear to for years. Instead, you can call and speak to how you can help them get more service calls in a given day, or how you can help them extend the life of their vehicles, and improve their return on assets, or how you can help them reduce fuel costs while allowing them to wear a “green” halo. These are things not tied to pain, but to outcomes, things people are always thinking about, and more willing to hear more about.
The best sellers understand that part of their job description is “disruptive marketing”, which includes the willingness and ability to take an interruption to a conversation, an irritating grain of sand to a pearl.