Most people really don’t enjoy making cold calls. Even when your very business depends on it, picking up that phone and calling a stranger when you know you’re going to have to work hard to break down their objections is anything but a picnic.
Anyone who’s ever reached any success in the sales arena knows that cold-calling is among a select few methods that always result in sales. Consistent failure is almost always a direct result of poor planning.
If you’re designing your calls correctly and carefully – listening to and noting the most common objections – then figuring out a way to counter them effectively, even the most hardened Eskimo is going to buy that ice you’re selling!
Here’s 3 basic principles to follow in order to get more leads, and fewer people slamming down the phone before you even get a chance to finish your pitch!
1. Figure out what companies you need to be calling
It isn’t enough for a marketing company to start flipping through the Yellow Pages and calling every business that they feel may be in need of their services. That’s the most lowly form of cold calling there is. Kind of like a big city roofing company calling every number in the phone book pitching their services, when the majority of people in urban centers rent rather than own.
You need to really spend some time considering which businesses can best use your services and then target them only. In the case of the marketing company example from the last paragraph, that company would want to identify companies that have large budgets to throw at their marketing efforts (tech firms, manufacturers, large auto dealerships, etc), as opposed to those businesses which they know would not (warehousing services, small brick-and-mortar retailers, etc.)
Time is money and you don’t have time to waste chasing leads that don’t stand a chance of panning out.
2. Identify WHO to call
Just because someone is the “decision maker” doesn’t mean that’s who you need to get on the phone with to get the sales’ wheels turning.
First decide: Who would most benefit from your offer?
Perhaps you need to soften their sales or production manager up first, so they in turn can go and do the hard sell to the boss for you?
If it’s a small business, the owner is ultimately the decision maker, but reaching them is tough. Furthermore, they will probably send you packing before you get a chance to get past the introduction stage. That’s just the world we live in, with so many businesses all vying for their share of the market pie.
Putting all your effort toward touching base with the decision maker can make your job harder than it needs to be. Not to mention, getting on the phone with subordinates is a great way to gather valuable information about the company’s needs, their customer’s needs, who provides the service you offer to them currently (and how happy they are with that service), and the approximate budget they may be able to put toward your services.
3. Write down a script
This is really the toughest part, but you can’t just call a business and fly by the seat of your pants. That rarely works for all but the most seasoned professionals. Most people just can’t do this right, no matter how hard they try.
Keep the fact that you’re going to be interrupting whomever you call in the back of your head while writing your script out. Avoid the temptation to just cut to the chase knowing that’s what most people want when an unsolicited call comes in. This sounds backwards, I know, but going this route will lose you more leads than it gains.
You need two punchy sentences to get their attention. The first one should be introducing yourself as succinctly as possible “Hi, my name is Brian from XYZ company.” Easy breezy, nothing more needed here.
Next, rather than trying to sell your product in one short sentence, you need to probe – if they haven’t already hung up on you, which sadly some folks will do. Probe for pain points, you’re building a relationship, not trying to stick them in the front seat of a brand new Lexus right that minute.
- You: “Have you been having trouble getting qualified leads in through the doors lately?”
- Them: “Yes”
- You: “Sales is definitely a tough business. Tell me more about your ideal customer.”
And so on. Were the customer to say no, only you can decide if it’s worth moving forward with the call. If they’re unresponsive, it’s often better to ask if you can follow up at a later date “just in case” their needs change. Most will say yes just to get you off the phone, and your next call with them has just turned from cold to warm.
The main objective of your first-call script should be to qualify them as a legitimate lead, not to close a sale on the spot. Being aggressive and cutting to the chase is no way to build a relationship, and relationship building is the key to modern day sales success.
Treat your cold calls like you’re having your first sitdown session with a newly acquired client: You need to get to the bottom of their needs so you can formulate a game plan to fulfill those needs.
Follow these three steps religiously, constantly refine your script based on feedback from your calls, then come back here and leave a comment letting everyone know how you made out.
It won’t be easy, but nothing about selling a product or service to strangers ever is…