This will be a two-part post focusing on one of the most disliked aspects of selling. That aspect is cold calling. Part One will focus on cold calling over the phone and Part Two will focus on cold calling in person.
I’ve never met a salesperson who truly loved making Cold Calls. I’ve met some who claimed to but their actions showed otherwise. But the discipline to make those calls whether you like to or not often determines the success of a sales professional.
Successful people have developed the habits of doing the things that less successful people simply don’t like to do. Successful salespeople have developed the habit of prospecting even if they don’t particularly like it.
If you’re Cold Calling over the phone then use a script. But, and this is huge, never, never, never read your script. Use it as a roadmap to make certain you don’t skip over important points. Use it as a confidence builder so you’ll actually make the call but if you’re calling people up to read to them expect to be a far less than successful salesperson. And please please please, don’t tell anyone you have exactly what they need before you even know their name.
Your first question MUST be relative to time. Never assume your prospect was just sitting around waiting for you to call. No matter how good your product is or how helpful it could be you ARE an interruption to your prospect’s day. You must demonstrate immediately that you understand that. Also demonstrate that you will ALWAYS be respectful of their time.
Don’t ask if this is a good time to talk because it almost never will be. Ask instead if they have a few moments to talk about an idea, product or solution they may find beneficial. A few moments seem like less time than a few minutes so your odds of getting a yes are better. Just remember if after getting a yes you burn up too much of their time you are an instant liar.
Your goal on a cold call is most commonly to sell an appointment. If you’ve done even a little research on how your product or service can help the person or company you’re calling then setting an appointment should go pretty quickly.
Speaking of research if you’re not going to do any then you’re not going to have much success cold calling, on the phone or in person. It’s never been easier to find information about a potential customer than it is today. A 5 or 10 minute investment of time on the internet can make all the difference in the success of your cold call. After all, if you’re selling hay then don’t expect much success when cold calling a person raising chickens. Find the prospects raising horses… BEFORE you call.
Technically the research means your cold call isn’t nearly as cold as cold calls used to be. You have the ability to “warm” it up as much as you want. If you’re making cold calls the same way it was done in the 70’s and 80’s you’re completely missing the boat.
I know this sounds stupid but you need to rehearse. Out loud, not in your head.
I once knew a guy who was arguably the best salesperson who ever lived. He sold life insurance. Billions and billions (literally) of dollars of life insurance. He was his company’s top salesperson for 54 consecutive years.
I ran into him shortly before he retired. He was standing outside an office building talking out loud to himself. I asked him what he was doing and he said he was about to make a cold call and he was practicing what he was going to say.
As he had many times during our friendship he amazed me. He had to have made thousands of calls during his illustrious career and yet he wouldn’t even consider making a call without practicing first.
I would hazard a guess that the vast majority of even mildly successful salespeople rarely if ever practice before a call. They figure they are good enough to “wing it.” It’s common practice to not practice but you should know that you will never achieve uncommon results by doing what’s common.
Those are all helpful ideas to increase your success rate when cold calling over the phone. However, none of them are the biggest reason salespeople fail at this important aspect of selling. The biggest reason they fail is because THEY NEVER MAKE THE CALL. If you’re going to have any success at cold calling you gotta make the call.
No amount of practice, research, or planning will help if you never actually get in the game. Very successful salespeople fear failure as much as less successful salespeople do. They difference is they try anyway.
Make the call!