One of the most important concepts to embrace when making cold calls is called Driver’s Seat Methodology. I have worked on this concept for many years, fine-tuned it, and utilize it every day. I’ve trained salespeople worldwide how to gently take control of the conversation – to DRIVE it.
A short introduction to Driver’s Seat Methodology:
When you are in the car driving your mother-in-law home for the evening, and she is shouting directions from the back seat, telling you that you’re better off taking the highway to avoid the lights, or that you’re too heavy-footed and need to slow down…who’s in charge?
YOU will drive the cold call. You will direct the conversation. Involve your prospect, listen more than you talk, but steer. How do go about this?
When I get on a cold call, I’m in the drivers seat, and the potential client respectfully sits beside me in the passenger seat. I am driving – I am asking the questions, the prospect is answering. Your potential client (just like on a first date) loves to give answers and talk about himself, his stress level, his workload. On a date, when the ‘silent’ partner keeps his or her mouth shut, he or she gathers information and validates the companion. The companion gets to talk about him or herself, feels validated and gives away valuable information. Especially in your first cold call with any prospect, information is what you need. Driving will get it.
How to decide when to speak: Imagine your prospect as a balloon full of energy. When the balloon is full, and air is coming out, you listen. When the prospect’s balloon is empty (he has exhausted the topic) then you validate him (like you’re dating) and fire another question to keep him talking. This way, you stay in control and drive the conversation. He doesn’t do the asking (“How is your product better?”) YOU do, by qualifying, performing research ahead of time, and then asking informed, open-ended questions (“So how does the budgeting process work – I know it must take 6 months or so and you’re due to finalize shortly – does the ultimate decision rest with you or with your colleague?”)
Watch the magic with an example:
“Hi Mr. X, this is Daniel Francès from company XYZ. I was informed that you are the purchase manager of CRM Software. You might have heard that I tried to reach you last week.”
What will happen in Mr. X’s mind?
1) He will either wonder who gave out that information, or he will say you’ve got the wrong person.
2) He will wonder why he hadn’t been informed of your previous call.
The result is that you are now in power because you’re in the driver’s seat. If he is not the person you need to talk to, he will let you know right away and help you find whomever you need to speak to. (Make sure he gives you the direct phone number!) If he is the right person, great! You validated that information and he feels respected in that his colleagues see him as the decision-maker.
If he wonders, “Why wasn’t I informed,” he will probably ask with whom who you left the message. Your answer should be, “I’ll have to look that up in my CRM system.” Jump right back into your pitch and keep the conversation moving. (Switch over quickly and get him hooked on what you’re saying. Don’t let him get stuck on the question of with whom you left a message. YOU drive.)
The conversation is all about control. With Driver’s Seat Methodology you get the information you need, and stay in control!