Admit it, many of us hate to be on the giving or receiving end of a cold call. Whether you are a green sales rep or experience sales manager, the challenge of making cold calls is real. Here’s what not to do in a fun video from Glance:
So you don’t end up like that guy, I scoured many a blog post to curate a list of the top cold calling tips from the experts.
Before the Call
Target – Sales trainer Kelley Robertson offers some sage advice on cold calling on his blog. To be effective and efficient when cold calling, it is best to focus your efforts on calling into a targeted list of companies rather than simple jumping around and randomly smiling and dialing. He describes that a campaign approach will have a direct impact on your success when cold calling.
Research – Smart sales reps know that a little personalization goes along way. Ask any seasoned rep and he or she will admit to researching a prospect before dialing. In fact, a recent survey indicated that some reps search up to 15 different sources before making a call. There doesn’t seem to be a right answer in terms of the exact amount of time a rep should spend researching but Tibor Shanto of Renbor Sales Solutions recently offered up some good advice. If you are following a targeted campaign approach, you should be able to only research the person and company you are calling for a few minutes and recycle or reuse any other information about the industry, trends, etc. you have already gathered. This step is key in helping to build rapport.
On the Phone
Introduction – Once your prospect answers the phone, you have seconds to catch his or her interest. One of the number one killers, according to Sean McPheat, is sounding like a robot. Instead of sounding “salesy”, Sean offers the tip to think of it as calling a friend to chat rather than being under the gun to hit your quota.
Tone – The way that you sound on the phone is important. The Queen of Cold Calling, Wendy Weiss, encourages sales reps to record a conversation and ask friends or colleagues to evaluate it. Do you sound confident? Are you mumbling? Are you talking too quickly? Do you sound bored? Wendy encourages reps to listen to the tape themselves and compare the personal evaluation to the group’s evaluations.
Rapport – The ability to build rapport is one of the qualities that separates okay sales reps from great sales reps. Matt Bertuzzi of The Bridge Group has acknowledged that sales reps can struggle with finding the balance of pre-call activities with the time it takes to have meaningful conversations. He asks the great question of why shouldn’t rapport involve doing a little bit of research, being armed with talking points and just speaking directly. The key is to take a bit of time to put set yourself up for a meaningful conversation.
Probing – Once you feel like you have a good connection with your prospect, it’s good to start asking some probing questions. You can think of these questions as laying the foundation of your ongoing relationship so you can ultimately help your prospect in the best possible way. In a guest blog on Salesmarks.com, Paul Cherry recommends building up to probing questions by directing the conversation and uncovering your prospect’s needs, wants and fears. Some sample questions from Paul include:
- “What are your goals for next year?”
- “What changes do we (I) need to make to ensure greater success?”
- “With 2013 around the corner, what do you think you’ll do more or/less of/just plain differently?”
Call to Action – Once your prospect can clearly see the connection between your products/services with his or her pain point or need, it’s time to create a call to action. Peggy Carlaw of Eyesonsales.com lists the CTA as a critical step in the cold calling process. You need to “give [the prospect] a reason for acting today and not tomorrow or next week. Make it more convenient, less expensive or in some other way in [the prospect’s] best interest to give you [his or her] business now.” Ask questions to set up another meeting or phone call in a way that makes it easy for the prospect to say yes. Here is a sample from Peggy – “Since we’ll be downtown on Wednesday, would 10 am work for you? Or would it be more convenient after lunch?”
What are your favorite cold calling tips or tricks? Please share in the comments!