Most people hate making cold calls. If you’ve got a sales staff that doesn’t, you may have a gold-mine or a band of lunatics on your hands.
But cold calls are an unfortunate necessity in business. Warm leads have a much higher conversion rate and are less likely to burn out a sales staff, but growth depends on broadening your client base. Even with no conversions, cold calls are essential to your marketing efforts because it pumps up name recognition numbers and sows the seeds for future business.
As much as a sales staff dislikes cold calls, there is one group who likes it even less: the interrupted. If sales is making the standard 100 DPD (dials per day), just multiply that by how many competitors are in your market and see how many times prospects have been interrupted by your industry alone.
To avoid raising the hackles of gatekeepers, let alone decision makers, and undermining the morale of your sales force, you need to learn a little game theory. Game theory is no game – it is advanced mathematics designed to predict behavior, developed for the U.S, military during WWII. But you don’t need to be a math whiz to use its conclusions for an edge in sales.
If you saw the movie A Beautiful Mind, you got an intro to game theory phenom John Nash. Nash’s Equilibrium, for which he won a Nobel Prize, describes how to make the optimal decision based on what your competitors are likely to do. Just like in chess, getting even one move ahead of your opponent means you win. There are some great interactive infographics to help you create your own competitor decision matrix online. While your competition is busy trying to hustle a cold call from a skeptical secretary, try one of the tactics each day to develop 10-15 warm leads. And do it before your competitors read this article or the gamification of sales.
- Monday – Solve a problem. Even if you know nothing about a prospect, you know their industry and common problems. Present them with a solution and you become a hero that they will talk about.
- Tuesday – Educate them. Share some relevant news or something you’ve read recently in an industry group. Teaching something you know, even unrelated to your core business, will position you a resource and your cold calls will come to you after class.
- Wednesday – Ask some great questions. Forums and groups are always a great place to look for answers. Send questions to specific people or ask an online group for feedback. People want to help others and this can turn into people wanting to get to know you more.
- Thursday – Put it online. Statistics and industry trends are available from a variety of sources that aren’t available to search engines, such as database reports and .pdf white papers. Offer this exclusive information for free and follow up later with your sales script.
- Friday – Apps and video. How nice would it be to have a robot collect emails and start conversations while you sleep. Welcome to apps and video. They only need to entertain, like the Will It Blend? series to drive prospect interaction. Deploy your sales tools after they are already interested. Try a free license of InsideView for sales or shoot a video with your iPad.
Game theory derives its name from the intense emotional drive people feel toward competition and prize-seeking, even in war or situations where the prize is not worth the effort. Your business will only survive difficult economic times if your sales staff is able to forge emotional connections with you prospects to move you out of the dead end game of “who’s got the lowest price?”