Cold Calling Tips for Successful Cold Calls
Cold Calling is STILL Useful IF You Do It Right.
Are you a professional who must make money from selling activities? If so,
you're likely facing the prospect of making a COLD CALL. While cold calling is
akin to a root canal for many salespeople, it doesn't have to be that way.
FEAR of COLD CALLING:
Why are salespeople afraid to make cold calls? The number one reason is
simple: they are afraid they'll be rejected. It is odd, but you get told "no"
enough times, and sometimes rudely, you tend to fear picking up the phone to
make another cold call.
The real problem with fear and cold calling is the lack of sales process when
applied to a cold call. If you use a system for cold calls, your cold call
effectiveness will increase, because fear is minimized and success is maximized.
The Cold to Gold System for Cold Calling:
While I can't spill all the beans, I can give you many of the keys to
successful cold calling, done right.
First, you must have the right perspective. Too many salespeople are caught
up in THEIR product, THEIR company, and THEIR chatter... rather than being
focused on the PROSPECT's COMPANY, PRODUCTS, and VERNACULAR. If you call the
prospect, therefore, you ought to know something about them.
Start with research about your prospect to improve cold calls.
1. Do online research for cold call effectiveness. Dig into
their annual report (if public, these are always posted online). Dig up more
information through press releases and product descriptions.
2. Do customer research for cold call maximization. While
most sales coaches worth their salt will recommend you research your prospect
online (duh), few coaches recommend you call your PROSPECT's customer to
interview them about how they like using that company's products. You can simply
state "I'm seeking to simply ask for a recommendation as to how effective their
solution has been." Once the customer of your prospect starts sharing
information, ask them ONE KEY QUESTION: "If there was any way they could be
better, what suggestions would you make?"
The cold call magic bullet? Then listen, and take notes. In their response
lies the GOLD for you to approach your prospect in your cold call! If you do
this again for three or four of their customers, you'll start to get a VERY
CLEAR picture of how THEY can improve. Imagine, rather than simply calling a
prospect and GUESSING at what their needs might be... if you instead called them
KNOWING what several of their CUSTOMERS who already buy from them would like to
get from them.
The magic bullet: although there isn't a clear cold calling magic bullet, per
se, with each prospect, you sure get a lot closer to knowing hot points and
speaking intelligently on your cold calls as a partner or consultant by taking
this approach. If you can, call a customer (or a few customers) and ask how they
like using their product. With this information you learn your cold call is no
longer cold. Actually, your cold call turned into a warm call - because you're
now informed with valuable information the prospect needs!
3. Research INSIDE the prospect's own company for complete
effectiveness. Obviously, you want to be referred to the prospect - or
the decision maker for your solution. The best way to get that referral is from
INSIDE the prospect's company. Think about it, who do you trust the most? In the
personal world, generally speaking, we trust our family the most. Well, in the
corporate world, we trust our business associates at our company the most. So
talk to people who work there and get their insights into the customer
challenges you've discovered. That way, when you talk to the decision maker, you
can say "Jane from HR referred me to you." Or whatever name and department is
appropriate. It's a great way to start your cold call conversation, because
immediately you're warm - not cold!
4. Cold call outside "normal" hours. When you pick up the phone
to make a cold call, try to call your prospect either first thing in the
morning, at lunch, or at the end of the day. Why? Well, the odds of getting
screened by their administrator go down dramatically when you cold call before
8:00 a.m., between Noon and 1:00 PM, and after 5:00pm - especially after 6:00pm.
When you make cold calls during this time frame, do NOT leave voicemail. You can
always leave voicemails during other times. But the point is to reach your
primary contact, not mess around with their administrator and get screened.
5. Treat the administrator like the prospect when calling. If you cannot
avoid cold calling off-times or simply must cold call through their
administrator, then treat the administrator as if they WERE the contact you're
What happens is the administrator will start to try to DIRECT you. What you
say when they start going in that direction is critical. Use the phrase: "How
does their schedule look. I have Monday two weeks from now available." first. If
you get push back, use: I'm seeking to help them directly. How can you help me?"
This works wonders for me. People tend to want to help IF you ask how can you
help me in your cold call. You still may get screened, but if you shared some of
the information (not all) you wish you share with the target executive, then
you're more likely to get through. But all of this is more work. Thus, the
reason I recommend cold calling outside typical times.
6. Plan your cold calls. When you cold call, you ought to
always have a plan for the call. What is step one? Step two? Step three? I
recommend you begin with the end in mind. Unless you're selling girl scout
cookies, you probably won't be selling your solution on the first call. Usually,
you must quickly grab their attention. You typically have about 10 seconds
before they start treating you like a salesperson (in other words, pushing you
off, pulling away). Why?
The answer is that most salespeople do stupid things while cold calling. This
makes the job harder for you. Because the last phone call they picked up where
they didn't recognize the answer might have burned them. Therefore, your cold
call must be better, quicker, and smarter than the others.
An example of typical sales cold calls is as follows:
"Hi Mary, this is
John from ACME Solutions. How are you today?..(reply)... Well, the reason I'm
calling is my company offers solutions for..."
And, unfortunately, the typical sales cold call is immediately triggering the
prospect's alert button for "BRAINLESS SALESPERSON ALERT!" Seriously. First of
all, do you want to sound like every other salesperson? No. Second, do you know
enough about them to talk about you, your company, or your product? No again!
7. Better cold call scripting. So, don't talk about YOURSELF
when you start your cold call. Every other salesperson cold calls that way.
Instead, talk about THEM. If you've learned anything from Dale Carnegie, you'll
recall the phrase "You get more with honey than vinegar." Since they don't know
you, start with praise for their company or an award they might have won. People
like to hear they're doing a good job.
Next, mention you spoke with a few of their customers, and want to share some
unique insights and possible problems you can help them overcome. (Of course,
make sure to choose problems and insights related to your solution, if
possible). They will, at this point, ask "Who is this?" Tell them your name.
They will likely say "What company are you with?" And then you tell them. See
the difference? Most salespeople start off saying "Hi, Mary, this is John from
ACME..." right there the "salesperson" light goes ON and destroys the cold call!
If, instead, try a script like this:
"Hi, Mary, I heard you won an award for technology innovation last month from
the Churchhill Club- congratulations! I was speaking with Joan over in your IT
department, who confirmed that Sageway, one of your clients, is satisfied with
your company; however, your Matrix Systems aren't really meeting Jack Benny's
needs over at Sageway... (if they haven't interrupted you asking who this is
yet, continue with this) "so, I want to help you meet Jack's (stated need) and
collaborate on a solution with you."
At this point, they are SURE to ask "who is this?" If they don't, they
weren't listening. The whole point of the cold call is to get THEM to interrupt
you (because interrupting is rude and you already interrupted them by calling
them, so you need to level the cold call playing field to equality). When they
do interrupt you, they will likely ask "Who is this?" You reply "John Jacobson
(your name here, of course)." then continue with the OBJECTIVE of the CALL: a
8. The cold call close. "I am looking at my calendar, and
looking out to next Thursday at 1:00 PM I could work in 30 minutes to meet with
you. I look forward to discussing how we can help design more improvements for
Sageway together." If they haven't confirmed or interrupted again, simply ask:
"Is that time clear on your calendar?" They will either confirm with you or ask
about the purpose of the meeting. Again, you restate the problem you heard
about, and you discuss how you like working together to solve clients like that.
Keep in mind, they need to own your solution as much as you do, and what gets
"invented here" gets "recommended here" is the mindset of the prospect.
You notice the difference? I have not recommended you mention your product.
Nor have I mentioned the specific solution. Frankly, you don't know for sure if
you have one. You can't know that until you meet together. The objective IS the
meeting. And, preferably, a well-qualified meeting. If they don't really believe
they have that need you mentioned, or don't believe there is a problem, trust
me, they WILL let you know. Then, you better have a cold call back up plan!
9. Alternative situations. Ask any general if their missions
go to plan and most will tell you that they often don't. In case plan A doesn't
work, well, you better have a backup plan. Perhaps a second problem or
additional situation is appropriate? Maybe that is a time you could mention that
you are helping many companies with typical problems relating to (need 1, need
2, need 3) and impact results by over (whatever results you can honestly
quantify for them). Emotional words, like "faster, quickly, less time, removed x
hours in the process, lowered costs by 34.5%" and then a name drop of two or
three companies they would recognize is useful at this point. Then they can
identify with the types of solutions you might offer them, and select if this is
a good time to meet.
Let them know your expertise (your company trained you to be an expert,
didn't they?) gives you unique qualifications to roll up your sleeves alongside
someone like them.
The whole purpose of the meeting is to discuss if there is a alignment
between your organizations for a possible win-win and then discuss the solution
once you've better defined the need requirement together. We're not being
deceptive. We're being INNOVATIVE. If you take this approach, your cold calls
will progress considerably better than peer cold calls. I use this approach
myself, and although it sometimes takes a couple of minutes longer to prepare
for my calls, as a result my calls are more productive.
Not only that, but once you start truly solving problems for clients this
way, you start to put on your problem-solving cap more than your selling cap.
And, a problem-solver is someone a client will treat as a confidante: a welcome
friend. The salesperson, they may like, but they often will toss out for the
next lowest bidder. Who would you rather be?
I prefer being the friend, the problem-solver. And the only way to do that is
find REAL problems, dig deeper to expand the problem to find out the total cost
of that issue, and then present a solution that could meet their need.
10. Better qualified meetings and more wins. It is possible
to follow-up a cold call, in this instance, with an understanding of the problem
along with your possible solution. You can then send that preliminary proposal
as a "draft solution" to create talking points for your meeting.
Do you think your meeting will go better when you do that? My experience is a
considerably more qualified meeting, higher return on prospecting time, and
higher closed deals. Initially, you'll have fewer deals in the pipeline, because
you'll input less garbage deals. But as your qualification and true consulting
cold calling process goes up, so will your call success.
If you're interested in other articles on Cold Calling, check this out:
Salespeople Fail - Article by Scott Andrews, Founder of Cold to Gold
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