Hey, cold callers - It’s not about you!
Cold calling is still a form of business development, and it won't be going away anytime soon. In some cases, it's very effective; in others, not at all. In the past few weeks, I've gotten a higher number of cold calls to my business than ever before. Most of them were train wrecks, and those wrecks compelled me to write this article. Here's what happened.
I took every call but I found that I couldn't listen to their message without wanting to critique them. I ended each of these calls saying the same thing - "Thanks, but I'm not interested." I gave them the chance to pique my interest, have an open conversation and ask me some questions to see if there was a fit, but they were more interested into launching into their sales pitch. They assumed that I needed what they had to offer. Funny how they knew that when the only question they bothered to ask was "Are you the person in charge of making decisions for the business?"
So, cold callers, I decided to send you a letter on behalf of myself and everyone you call to address some concerns about your approach. An approach that no longer works.
Dear Cold Caller,
Recently you called my office, and I willingly picked up the phone to have a conversation with you. You forgot to ask me if it was a bad time to talk and immediately launched into what you had to say. Instead of finding out what was important to me, you told me what was important to you. I might have been interested, might have listened a little longer and might have given you a referral, but you put up too many roadblocks, walls and barriers for me to do that. You made too many cold calling mistakes, and they cost you this sale and probably countless others.
I don't want to see you keep making the mistakes that compel me and others to hang up or find an excuse to end the call. I am open to hearing about what you offer, but it's not about you; remember, you called me.
If you want your cold calls to turn out differently, please change a few things in your approach. Be willing to stop sounding like everyone else and I'm sure our next call will be different. Below are some suggestions that I and every other person you call need you to consider. I look forward to talking to you in the future.
1. Research me and my company. It's so simple these days to obtain good solid information on a prospect prior to picking up the phone. Do some research on me and my company before you call and start making the assumption that I need what you have. Spending a few minutes on research will yield big results. Otherwise I will know that I am just another number on your call list.
2. Ask me questions. You first question should be, "Have I caught you at a bad time?" Then, if you take the time to ask me questions to find out what I need and what is important to me, I will give you honest answers. If you don't bother to ask these questions, how can you uncover my needs and pains? How can you try to sell me something when you don't even know what I need or want? It makes me feel like you're just in it for the sale, your quota and your paycheck. Asking questions keeps me on the phone with you longer. It works like magic.
3. Listen to my answers. If we're talking and I have something to share, please stop talking long enough to listen to me. Really listen to me, don't just hear the words. When you dismiss everything I say with another reason why I should work with you, I have no interest in you and will rush you off the phone. Reminder: you have two ears and one month; please use them accordingly.
4. Don't tell me you will be in my area. There is nothing worse than hearing those words from a cold caller. I know, and everyone else you talk to knows, that you're not going to be in my area. That sales technique went out in the 80's. It's the fastest, most effective way to induce a hang-up in record-breaking time and shut down our call on the spot. Be honest and ask to set up an appointment if there is any interest on my part.
5. Honor your words. If you declare that you will do something for me, do it. If you say you're going to send me an email with some information or get back to me with an answer to my question, do it. I won't chase you down or follow up with you; that's your job. Why bother calling me if you're going to drop the ball and not follow through on what you say? If you don't, I will know right then and there what it will be like to do business with you. Deal breaker!
If these expectations are too high, or my suggestions are too absurd, stop right now and put me on your do not call list. However, if my suggestions sound reasonable and you're willing to change your approach, then I look forward to talking to you in the future. Thank you.
Cold calling doesn't have to be a painful experience for you or the person you're calling. If your calls are going nowhere and you keep getting the same dreary reactions and results, then your approach is off. There is a fix.