Cold calling is one of those jobs that not too many people will ever enjoy doing. How many bad cold calls have you had before? For the most part, they’re so painfully bad that most prospects now see your ‘out of the blue’ call as a nuisance. What this means for you as a caller is that you have to work doubly hard to get and keep their attention for a few minutes.
So, what can you do to make every cold call more successful?
1) Don’t hard sell them
The days of reeling off pitch after pitch from a script are long gone. Customers have got wise to your sales calls and don’t expect to be sold to anymore. What you need to be doing is educating them, understanding their pain points and sharing how your product or service can solve their problems.
While the Internet and social selling continue to change the face of traditional selling, you need to change your approach accordingly. Any good sales ‘pitch’ should be a friendly consultation, with meaningful and probing questions that explore your prospect’s daily challenges and woes.
Your initial conversation should allow your prospect to respond to your knowledge of their struggles while suggesting a suitable solution, rather than reeling off a pre-canned speech about your product. They simply won’t buy if they aren’t already encountering some kind of problem and can’t see how your solution can add value.
2) Call the right people
What’s the point in wasting time being passed from pillar to post, from gatekeeper to gatekeeper? Your prospect will no doubt soon catch wind of your constant barrage of calls and they’ll never pick up the phone. If you need to talk to the Sales Manager, there’s little use going in below them. A gatekeeper will make it that little bit tougher to get to your decision maker but confidence, friendliness and an added dose of urgency can often be all you need to get past Bert on the front desk. Better yet, get referred to Mr Jones from one of his peers that you are already working with. It’s an easy route in.
As such, the advent of professional social networking sites such as LinkedIn means you can pinpoint exactly who you need to talk to. If you have a connection in common with your prospect, why not message them and ask for a friendly, warm introduction or recommendation? It’ll pave the way for an easy first conversation, rather than working your socks off to keep them on the line.
3) Get under your prospect’s skin
I think what damages a lot of cold calls is the caller expecting a sale or a ‘yes’ on call number one. While you may strike lucky at times, more often than not you’ll hear retorts such as “call me back next week’, “send me some more information”, or “I’m interested but we don’t have budget for this”.
The key here is to do your research on a prospect so you can say the right things; let your call become a two-way conversation, rather than just you talking the ear off your prospect. Have they recently joined a new company, been promoted, hired some additional staff or launched into a new market? All of these will make fine discussion points and can often lead to a prospect sharing some of their woes with you. Woes that your product or service can hopefully resolve.
You need to be able to get under your prospect’s skin and let them do the talking about their challenges. Don’t dive into a sales heavy conversation without first understanding what it is your prospect wants. Then, with a little patience, you can customize your conversation to respond directly to their needs.
As your first point of contact with a potential customer, a cold call is the beginning of your relationship. It is a nerve-wracking first call; there is no doubt about that. You need to be captivating enough in your conversation to grab and maintain your prospect’s attention to keep them on the phone, but be perceived as a friendly advisor that can be trusted.
While it’s useful for some salespeople to have a pre-written script, don’t take it as gospel and think you can’t divert from it at all; every call needs some flexibility. Your prospects can pick up on a pre-written sales pitch in seconds and its hugely off-putting. Relax, take a few moments before your call to gather your thoughts and loosely plan what you’re going to say.
I think overall, the key to strong cold calls is to do your research. We all know that people love to buy but hate to be sold to, so if you can devise a smart, friendly and comprehensive approach to your sales technique, prospects won’t need to be sold to, they’ll simply be buying. 10 well-researched calls will generate a far greater success rate than 100 overly scripted calls made off the cuff. Don’t disregard the power of numbers – there needs to be a balance between the amount of research and the amount of calls made. 100 poor calls with 2% engagement is better than 1 call with 100% engagement.