Take the Chill Out of Cold Calling
Call reluctance is experienced by all business professionals, no matter their role. Executives returning messages from upset customers, accounting personnel calling on past due notices and technology team members shopping for service providers. Imagine if your entire day's success was measured by the number of calls you made to convince strangers to buy your goods and services.
No. Not right now. No, thanks. Not interested. Maybe. Not in our budget. Hang up. Send me information. Yes. That is the typical day of a sales person who is building their pipeline, repeated over and over again. And we wonder why it is hard to find and retain great sales people. There are not many of us who would put at the top of our career ambitions to be rejected several times a day.
Cold calling is rarely listed as a favorite work activity; however, for millions it is what pays the bills. Selling is fundamental to our economy. There is no business until something is sold.
Embracing the fact we all need to make cold calls, how can we take the chill out of one of the most important activities in business? Here are a few tips to prepare for a day of cold calling:
1. Know your target market. Every buyer is unique; however, they will have similar demographics, sociographics and psychographics. Spend time understanding the common data characteristics, along with behaviors and motivators. For example, if you are targeting a small business owner, know what drives them to change. What fears do they face in making buying decisions? What would benefit them the most personally and professionally when they say yes? The more you know about them, the easier it will be for you to make a "warm call" into a known, targeted buyer.
2. Feel the buyer's pain. There is a natural tendency for inexperienced cold callers to talk about their reason for calling more than finding out why the buyer would benefit from their products or services. Stop. Listen. If you are doing the most of the talking, you are losing. You will never hear the buying signals when you are spewing facts, features, and generic benefits. The best technique is to understand and relate to your buyer so they have confidence you are doing what is best for them, not you.
3. Quantity matters. It is far easier to deal with rejection if you can get a "win" during your calling spree. Plan with enough time in a single day to make calls in blocks of several hours. One, right after the other. Hang up, dial the next. If you stagger your calls throughout the day or over longer periods, you are simply prolonging the pain. Dial until you get to yes and then dial more. Target how many yes calls you need in a day to hit your weekly and monthly goal.
4. Needs analysis pays off. Do your research on your buyer. You will be expected to speak to their individual business needs. There is no excuse to cold call blindly. "Google them". It takes seconds now to find valuable data online about buyers. You have access to profiles in LinkedIn, you have company websites with executive profiles, products and company information, public reports and news. Do your homework.
5. Call with intent. What is your goal in cold calling? What qualifies as a "yes"? As with any business function, have a goal and objective with every call. The only way to get to the yes is to ask - ask for the sale. Get agreement along the way of your presentation and make sure you are aligned in your mutual objectives. You are solving a problem for the buyer. Countless deals are lost because people think making the call is the goal. That is not the win. The win is getting the deal. Ask for their business. It only counts when they say yes. When they say no, ask again.
A sales person has to remain calm in the chaos of measurable rejection. They have to keep their eye on the "prize". One more call to a yes. One more opportunity to use their real skills and talents of negotiation and the power of persuasion to fulfill a need.
Respect and reward those that you depend on to make the calls to grow your business. If you are the cold caller, prepare to win. Know your target, be diligent in your process and never forget to ask. It is the glimpse of hope, the possibility of acceptance and the incredible satisfaction of closing a deal that keeps a cold caller motivated. Commissions aside, most sales people will say they get the greatest reward from winning. Winning when a customer says yes!
"For every sale you miss because you're too enthusiastic, you will miss a hundred because you're not enthusiastic enough." - Zig Ziglar
Jamie Glass, Founder, President and CMO of Artful Thinkers