|It’s real. Cold Calling is scary to most sales people. BUT, contrary to popular belief and many articles written on that topic, Cold Calling is NOT dead. Just because social media can provide some (and the keyword here is some) valuable information and leads, doesn’t mean that we don’t need to pick up the phone any more.In a consultative sales environment, phone conversations are still a very effective way to develop new business. The good news is that Cold Calling has many benefits that you might not have thought of:
– It keeps us sharp!
– It requires that you are at your best.
– When cold calling, you can’t rely on the rapport that you have developed with your existing customers.
So your sales and service skills have to be on high alert.
The skills we use in Cold Calling help us with all of our sales and service interactions as well. It’s somewhat similar to an athlete’s world. The weight-lifting and drills they go through can be excruciating at times, but in the end their overall performance improves!
So, to be good at Cold-Calling, you need to Plan Ahead (= Pre-Call Planning) and Practice!
Have a Plan (or Plans) in Place!
The main motivating idea behind Pre-Call Planning is that customers will not always reveal needs, so we have to strategically ask questions to uncover them. We should always be thinking, “What next?” If you wait until the customer has a specific need, then the opportunity may come too late, or it may end up a bidding war with competition.
Sometimes customer needs are obvious and most often they need to be developed. When you can uncover customer needs that they have not considered, you position yourself as a valued business partner.
Also, for all the times we arrive in someone’s voicemail box, be sure to have a plan for leaving a voice mail! Don’t ramble on, be natural and as conversational as possible, but convey your message sharply and concisely. You will find that thinking through the process and having a plan, rather than dialing for dollars will help you manage the fear. It will also help you anticipate objections. I am not recommending a script here, I am recommending a plan, and outline, or a cue card, because following an exact script might make you sound (you guessed it!) scripted.
Research, Research, and Research!
The better you are prepared before picking up the phone, the higher your chances that your prospect will listen. As long as you are targeted in your approach and you know who your ideal prospects are there is really nothing to fear than fear itself.
Be Personal and Professional
There is this common expectation that sales people should be aggressive. In my experience, the more gentle, consultative and professional you are, the higher your success rate will be. Never treat anybody in any way other than the way you would like to be treated. And respect your prospect’s time.
Lead with Value
Focus on the value your products or solutions might bring to your prospect. You will have time to talk about features and benefits of your offering, if your prospects show interest in details. Understand that not everyone wants to know or needs to know all the great features and benefits you have to offer if they see the value first.
People who have worked through our Consultative Sales Certification program know the difference. You only have a short period of time, perhaps 30 seconds (in New York maybe only 15 seconds!) to get your point across.
What is the value your prospect will gain when working with you? Is it saved time or money, or the ability to increase revenue? In the end, that’s what they care about most.
Be Relevant and Stay Honest
It doesn’t make sense to talk prospects into a need. Your product or solution has to be a fit, otherwise you will waste your time, and your prospect’s time. If you find out that there is no current need, leave a good impression, try to be helpful if possible (by maybe providing an alternative solution or referring to another organization = you’ll surely raise your reputation!) and get permission to stay in touch.
Let Your Prospects Do the Talking
Don’t rattle off a pitch, but start with an introduction and then shift into asking questions that relevant to your prospect’s business and industry. The more information you can extract from your prospects (personal and professional), the better equipped you will be to follow up and build a relationship. Use open-ended questions and try to avoid questions that will yield a “yes” or “no” answer.
Let your prospect do the talking.
Pick up the Phone!
Yes, that’s right – just do it! (After you’ve done your Pre-Call Planning!) There is just no way around it. Well scripted and written e-mails go a long way, but if you are selling in a consultative sales environment well-planned and executed phone calls will give you your biggest return on investment. It will pay off!
And finally, get help! There is many coaches out there who are able to help. Prospecting, cold calling, like all the other sales aspects can be learned. We teach sales professionals every day, even the ones who are very afraid.
And remember, practice not only makes perfect – Practice makes Permanent!