Cold calling sucks! Maybe it’s because you suck at cold calling. OK, picking up the phone to attempt to book an appointment from a decision maker you’ve never met before is a scary thought. The expectation of constant rejection with low results discourages most Salespeople from making cold calling part of their regular routine. If this is how you feel, then this edition of the PROSALESGUY BLOG will give you what you need to be a new business machine this fall.
Cold Calling is Dead!
Social Media – The Smart Way to Prospect!
How to Reach your Next Customer on LinkedIn!
Inbound Marketing – the New Future of Sales Prospecting!
Do any of these statements sound familiar? With the advent of social media, it’s nearly impossible to avoid the claim that cold calling is how the old school Salesperson prospected for new business. Some articles will suggest that it’s a total waste of time to make a cold call due to gatekeepers and the fact that decision makers hate unsolicited phone calls.
Cold Calling – The Facts
Decision makers do hate cold calls – That doesn’t mean they don’t work in getting appointments.
Cold Calling requires great effort to get little results – Your technique and ability will determine that.
LinkedIn is a great way to engage new B2B customers – It most certainly is.
Social media is the new Cold Call – Social media should be added to all proven methods of prospecting.
Does this make sense?
Have you ever noticed that your ability to be great at something is directly linked to love of doing it? I have yet to see someone hate an activity they’re good at or love something they consistently struggle with. Passion and proficiency go hand in hand.
So then, doesn’t it make sense to become skillful in cold calling and watch your appointment level soar?
Ask any great cold caller if they initially liked picking up the phone and were great from the start. I have never met a born natural cold caller. Just the thought of that is a bit scary. Great cold callers made the commitment one day to doing whatever it takes to master the most difficult skill of Professional Salespeople. They started like everyone else and fell on their face many times at the start of their career.
Your Sales Manager is right – cold calling success is a numbers game – all prospecting is. Good experience leads to confidence and great technique. It’s that feeling when you cold call and are successful at booking an appointment – Yes! Followed by a fist-pump. Let’s try to give you the tools to be the king of the world more often.
The silly things we say when cold calling…
- “I have a new idea, concept, strategy or product that will make/save you money.”
- “I’m in your area on Tuesday and have some available appointment time.”
- “I was wondering if you might be interested in my product or service.”
- “I’m really excited to get together with you.”
What the buyer thinks
- “Who cares?”
- “Good for you. Book a tee-time at our local golf course.”
- “No, I’m not interested. If I were, I would have called you.”
- “You won’t be excited for long because it’s not going to happen.”
Professional Salespeople don’t make promises they can’t keep. They don’t spew out offers and claims to a decision maker that has shown no interest to date. Why would you do that? How can you commit to something when you don’t even know anything about the business you’re calling?
What are you trying to get?
Your goal on a cold call is to book an appointment – not convince the buyer to purchase! After all, how do you know yet whether your product or service can even help this company?
Something to think about
On every cold call, a sale is made.
Either you “sell” the idea that it’s worth the decision maker’s time to book an appointment with you, or the decision maker “sells you” on the idea that it’s not. You can take that to the bank. It was one of the greatest things I ever learned about cold calling – someone always wins the call.
Use a script as a guideline
Professional Salespeople don’t wing it; they use scripts. I don’t mean they read them necessarily. They feel them. Internalize them. They make the script theirs and use it as a framework for a conversational dialogue that doesn’t sound like their auditioning for the school play.
Here’s a simple lead-in script I often used as a Professional Salesperson that turned many cold calls into appointments. You’ll have to adjust the words a bit and customize it for your own personality and product, of course. Once you do, though, it’s yours.
“Hi (name). It’s (your name) calling from (your company).”
Pause a second here for recognition. Give them a chance to break the ice. Please don’t ask them how they’re doing – there’s no faster way to set off their salesperson alarm. Salesperson Alert!
“Did I reach you at a good time?”
I know what you’re thinking – why would you give them the chance to escape? Look, you want them to at least pay some attention to you. If their mind is occupied, you won’t get an appointment anyway. If they say, “No, it’s not a good time,” ask them when you should call back. That will result in one of two things:
- An offer of a better time. “Great, I’ll call you back then. Thanks.” Call them back at the exact time specified. That’s you living up to your commitments. “Hi (name), you asked me to call you back (day) and (time) . . .”
- The “What’s this about?” response. Wonderful. It’s game time.
The next step
“(Name), you don’t know me. We’ve never met. I came across your business (provide details). Do you mind if I ask you a few quick questions?”
I’ve never received a “Please do!” response, and I’ve also never received a “Beat it deadbeat.” It usually sounds more like mild indigestion followed by a less than enthusiastic, “Sure, yeah, OK.”
“Are you open to new ideas to (insert a basic vital need here – increasing market share/saving costs on/finding the right staff, etc.)?”
What’s the buyer going to say, “No”? It’s only happened once in my career. (I thanked the decision maker for their time and hung up.) You’re much more likely to get a lukewarm grunt in response.
“(Name), I have no idea if I can help you. I’m not even sure if (my product or service) is good for your business. What I can offer is an appointment to mutually exchange information. You tell me about your current business needs, and I’ll tell you about our (product or service). The better the information you have, the better the decisions you make. Does that sound fair?”
Why this works
Look at what this opening sequence has accomplished:
- You committed to nothing that might be a challenge to deliver.
- You didn’t make silly claims, beating your chest like a sales ape.
- You didn’t sound like 99% of the salespeople who called that week.
- You were sincere, honest and genuine. Rapport-building starts with the cold call!
What happens if they say something like this?
- “Email me some information.”
- “I’m in a commitment with another supplier.”
- “Our budget’s spent.”
- “I’m just on the way to a meeting.”
- “I’m not interested.”
- “How many emails do you get in a day? Do you really want another one? I’d like to simplify your job, not make it harder.”
- “I’m not even sure I can help you. The purpose of getting together is to mutually exchange information, not agree to do business together.”
- “I understand. If you came across what you truly thought was a great idea, could you find the budget somewhere?”
- “I understand. When would be a good time for me to call you back?”
- “That makes sense. If you were interested, you would have called me. The reason for the appointment is to mutually exchange information. Nothing more”
Remember the rules of the script
Internalize the script. Make it yours. Don’t give up.
Someone always wins the cold call. Who’s it going to be?
If you ever feel that you may be getting a little too intense or are pressuring a prospect into a decision, this de-pressurizer works like a charm:
“I’m sorry if I come on a little strong sometimes. I just feel passionate about what I do.”
Say it with a smile and, if it fits your personality, maybe even a lighthearted chuckle. This line has always resulted in a smile, often accompanied by a comment like, “I wish we had more people around here like that,” or “Why don’t you come sell for us and say that to our clients?”
Cold call in person or by phone?
I’ve always done my cold calling on the phone. Use a landline or make sure you have a rock-solid cellular connection – don’t trust your first impression with a new client to a shaky mobile network. The advantages of cold calling by phone are clear. You can cover much more ground on the phone than you can visiting in person.
Some Professional Salespeople feel that it’s easier to reject you on the phone and much tougher in person. Perhaps so. You can call many more people in an hour than you can visit, however, great cold calling skills on the phone will still see you book more appointments.
Stopping by a client’s office can also annoy busy decision makers who hate salespeople who drop by unannounced. “So what – am I supposed to drop everything for you just because you walked in?”
When stopping by makes sense
Here’s my cold calling protocol:
- Make a call.
- Leave a message (Back it up with an email if you can.)
- Repeat steps 1 and 2 three times with a few days between each attempt.
- If the buyer still hasn’t responded, then stop by. What have you got to lose? Your pride?
- If nothing works, send them an email like this: “I can appreciate how busy you are. It appears the timing of my contact is not the best. I will attempt to re-connect with you in 30 days. Please let me know if this is good for you.”
Come to life
I have actually had prospects “come to life” with that email. They usually apologize and initiate a conversation. The second that happens, I ask to book an appointment to explain.
If not, I follow them up in 30 days like clockwork. I have had clients finally call me, giving me praise for my follow up skills.
Persistence virtually always pays off
All decision makers appreciate creativity, even though they won’t admit it. Be careful though – stalking a buyer is not a great way to build a relationship.
Mix it up
While you may not be doing anything wrong, you might not be doing something right in your efforts to succeed.
Don’t be afraid to try a new approach. Send the decision maker a card in the mail with a $5 coffee gift card. Ask your colleagues on the sales floor what works for them. Be creative. Be resilient. Don’t give up too easily. Try back again after a month. Timing can be crucial.
And, of course, the most important point:
Don’t take rejection personally!
What do you think? Please give me your thoughts in the comments section below. Cold Calling is Chapter 27 of my book SHUT UP! Stop Talking and Starting Making Money available on Amazon.ca and Amazon.com. Buy it this summer and get pumped to make more sales this fall!
Thanks for reading!
Dave Warawa – PROSALESGUY
Available on Kindle and paperback.
Click the link for a preview of the book
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