At some stage in our sales career, we will be called upon to cold call. For many sales professionals this is a terrifying event; however it truly should not be. Cold calling can be one of the most rewarding activities for a sales professional, the measure of our strength and professional skills.
With a little preparation much of the angst can be reduced, leaving the elation of the unexpected and the thrill of the chase.
The first step is to plan and prepare. Whether we are calling by phone or in person, having the right opening or introduction is critical.
Bait the hook, give them something that makes them want to ask for more.
The door to door encyclopaedia sales professionals always asked “do you feel it’s important to give your child the best possible education opportunity?”
Who could answer “no get lost” to that.
When I sold television, and I cold called a business, in person, I always
opened with, ” Hi, I’m Peter from XXX television, just calling today speaking to business owners about just how inexpensive television advertising truly is.”
Because I stated that television is inexpensive, they scoffed at me. This allowed me to reply that I could get an ad on TV for as little as…….
This opened the door for more discussion, effectively breaking the ice and giving me the opportunity to ask questions or to book an appointment to call back and undertake a discovery appointment.
The next critical step to success in cold calling is getting into the right frame of mind. If I were heading up town to start cold calling, as I walked to my first call, I would greet and say hello to everyone I passed. This simple tip broke down the barriers and put me at ease speaking to people.
It’s important that you also feel upbeat, expecting success.
Attitude is infectious. I’m sure we have all experienced the person at the party, who is mono-tonal, feeling dull, not upbeat, wanting to engage, expecting to chat, he’s the one in the corner or on the sofa that no one in speaking to. Do you think he could sell you anything if he tried?
As a sales professional, we all must cold call. But the trick is to understand why and accept why. It’s of little benefit cold calling, going through the motions, just because we feel we are expected to. Link cold calling to your goals, that is business and personal goals. If we are
looking for that overseas holiday, link cold calling to that goal. Give it purpose, and see the rewards start to flow.
Practice, Practice, Practice. Work hard on your delivery, the tone and the pitch of your presentation. In face to face communication 55% of the message is non-verbal. If we are telephone cold calling we miss out on that 45% nonverbal, and all we have is the message and the delivery.
Record sample cold calls, play them back and listen to what is really being said. Ask a colleague to listen in and critique the call.
The more time we spend practicing, the better the results we will achieve.
Practice our questioning strategies. The key to successful cold calling is not to sell our products, but more to understand our potential customer, their business and their needs and then present a value proposition than meets their current and future needs.
We waste our time with questions such as, “Would that be of interest to you? , or Would you be interested in hearing more about…? “
We need to ask open questions that lead to information gathering. “Tell me more about…..” or “What do you see as important with regard to ….”.
Gather together a series of questions that will build your knowledge base of the client, their needs and their wants, this will add value to your cold call. Also remember a client does like to talk about their business.
Arm yourself with the essential sales support material. Nothing is more embarrassing than rummaging about looking for that sales material, appearing to be disorganised. Does that engender confidence in you as a sales professional? Carry only what you need, in a well organised and well-presented sales compendium.
Turn you mobile phone off. If you are making a face to face cold call, turn it to silent, or off. Show the prospective customer the courtesy of being the most important person there.
Not playing second fiddle and anyone who calls. Saying to a potential customer “excuse me, but I really need to take this…” with regard to a mobile interruption is unforgivable. You should not have even started the cold call, if we were expecting a call on our mobile.
Have a clear plan, an outcome that you desire from the call. I prefer to make the goal of my cold calls the opportunity to have proper one on one discovery meeting. So in other words, the cold call is for the purpose of winning an appointment, not selling to them there and then.
Whether it is phone or face to face, the result is the same. I would prefer to win an appointment and the go into a discovery appointment. Your customer is a professional person. Their time is important. When we call and try to sell to them over the phone we have no idea what they are doing whilst we are speaking. They could be signing documents, reading emails, planning their to list, or listening to you, but either way, we are not guaranteed of their attention. We have wasted an opportunity.
Keep calling keep knocking. Discipline is the key here. Set aside time every day, every week for cold calls. Don’t settle on doing one, getting an appointment and then moving onto other tasks. It’s a numbers game, and to be in the game we need to have a decent batting average.
Keep calling for the full time that you have allocated for the session, keep knocking on the doors for the full duration.
Whenever we cut short your cold call session we are cutting short our results. The next call could be your next biggest customer.
Look at yourself in the mirror. What do you see? Study your posture, facial expressions, hand and head movements, be critical of yourself. Would you buy from yourself?
When we walk into a business for the first time, what does our potential customer really see walking in their front door?
Are we smiling, open and honest, or do we look down, unsure of ourselves and not comfortable with our tasks.
When we pick up the phone to call are we smiling? It’s true, you can hear a smile on the phone. Review ourselves in the mirror, ask for
feedback from our colleagues and even our new clients. We can be surprised as to what we are told.
Cold calling is not difficult, but to be totally effective it requires discipline and commitment. In my career spanning over 25 years of media sales, I have enjoyed cold calling and as a result derived great benefit from it.
For more information regarding ways to improve your cold call success rates, or how to get motivate, contact Peter McCullagh. Mccullaghp@solutionbasedmarketing.com.au