Effective Cold Calling
Cold-calling a client is often regarded as the equivalent of clutching at straws in terms of generating business. And research has shown that out of all prospecting methods, cold-calling is the least effective. The perceived wisdom against cold-calling states that it’s effectiveness disappeared when society moved into the Information Age and many sales gurus will state that cold-calling has not only become obsolete, inefficient, and ineffective it is actually counter-productive. Generating high levels of sales resistance as it often offends qualified prospects who may have otherwise bought had they been approached in a more professional manner.
For sure cold-calling is not for every sales team or every product or service, but for certain services, cold-calling is very effective in finding prospects willing and able to purchase and is an extremely effective prospecting tool. Because cold-calling, making an unsolicited business approach, either door stepping or by phoning, just like spamming, is surprisingly successful if done well and above all is targeted and qualified.
The general principles of selling apply equally to cold-calling and as in a normal sales call it is about building a business relationship around a mutually defined need. A financial salesman once told me that when he called ten clients and closed a deal on the last one for one thousand dollars each one of those calls was actually worth to him a Texas penny. That’s the way he looked at it. Rather than nine rejections each call was regarded as a success and precursor to the successful last one where the deal was made. However even against this positive outlook such an approach that rationalises the process as a numbers game and reduces the sales engagement to the equivalent of junk mail in the end will lead no-where.
The following are my top tips for being successful in your prospecting
Firstly identify your market for your product or services then target buyers in that market – first base is getting to know to whom you will be talking to. Narrow the search and get an up to date list of potential clients along with contacts phone numbers etc. Be aware that your current clients competitors are a good starting point for new engagements.
Invest time in research about your potential clients. The sales team need to be encouraged to research companies they are going to ‘cold-call,’ so they know something about the company’s business, issues and as a result their potential needs.
Doing the Call:
- The objectives of the call is to get the 30 minute appointment or a ‘call to action’ – a follow-up.
- Warm up the cold call by sending out a message that you will be calling (but do not say when). A cold call is better used for when you want to make a sale or make an appointment today – ‘I am in your area today so’ .
- Craft a good script and more or less stick to it – set down your exit dialogue and leave the door open preferably with a ‘call-to-action’. However customise the delivery and be contingent – the prospect may cut in and go directly to ‘so what can you do for me…’
- When starting the call get to the point and be efficient never ask how they are today – it sets of invisible alarm bells and gives them time to think of a response to fob you off.
- Smile and be pleasant throughout and you will feel better (and have higher self-esteem) and your client will feel that you are smiling through the inflection in your voice.
- Be nice to the gatekeepers and develop standard scripts to the objections they will throw at you. If you meet a new one (objection that is) that you have not heard before write it down and develop a scripted response for the next time it comes up.
- When you get to the Principal acknowledge a time limit and stick to it – ‘I know you have only 30 seconds so …’ Ask for the appointment and ask her to write it down.
- Do not say you will call a day before to confirm – just turn up at the appointed time. If something really came up in the meantime and you turn up, and the appointment is cancelled, the balance of power shifts in your direction and you should get the return match. Don’t forget to ask for the new appointment.
- Get lot’s of practice and develop a thick skin – I am quite serious – practice cold calling on your colleagues and get them to give you a hard time (they will need little encouragement). They will be over the top but never-the-less this will be invaluable training.
Prospecting the life blood of sales
Cold calling or prospecting is the foundation of any company’s sales approach and enables you to hit targets and fill the pipeline – it is the lifeblood of your sales process. Sales prospecting using cold-calling just like fishing requires that you find the fun in the game. What prevents sales people cold calling is often the fear of rejection that an abruptly ended sales call engenders. We need to turn this around – just as when fishing we rue the ten that got away all that is forgotten when we land the big one. Besides what has happened is the client has not rejected you she has lost the chance of a great deal for the short term ego boost that chewing out a sales rep has given her.
Potentially cold-calling is a means of identifying potential prospects for your sales efforts and is the reconnaissance before any battle begins and is an excellent method of qualifying potential leads. Cold-calling is not where the sale happens its where the terrain is identified and the process begins. It must be said that cold-calling is hard work and not particularly effective compared to other techniques such as networking however although the most universally despised aspect of the sales job if done well will pay very rich dividends.
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