Sales reality check: Excuses, excuses
The telephone sits on your desk, quietly waiting to take your message to some lucky person buried deep in the spreadsheet of names you have on your call list. You reach for the phone and . . . stop.
Maybe today isn't a good day to reach out. Maybe your script needs a little polishing before you dive into the cold call game.
Maybe you're making excuses.
Cold calling is hard work. It's challenging to be "up" for that next conversation, to be faced with the possibility of rejection. Or worse, you may be interrupting someone's day who doesn't know how to kindly but firmly reject your advances.
But when all is said and done you know in your heart of hearts that you are simply building excuses and not successes. There is almost no time that a cold call is inappropriate. Let me show you how I know this. Here are several times people think cold calling can't work and why I know they are good times for the smart teleprospector:
FIRST THING IN THE MORNING
Many believe that contacting someone as soon as business opens (or even a few minutes before) is both rude and unproductive. Let people have a chance to take their coats off and grab a first cup of coffee before "bugging" them, right? Wrong!
There are as many morning glories in the business world as night owls, and you may be the first call of the day by starting early. You and your prospect will both be fresh and open to new ideas. Also, many executives make it a habit to reach their desks a couple of hours before opening, so they have time to collect their thoughts, make their daily plans, or catch up on administrative duties. Your call can be a welcome break in their pre-business hour.
Last thing in the workday has the same potential. With the quieter time of day, you have a calmer prospect to focus on your questions and conversation. Take advantage of these great cold-calling times.
YOUR CONTACT IS PROBABLY OUT FOR THE DAY
We've all had this notice from the gatekeeper:
"Mr. So-and-So was planning to go to a client site today and isn't likely to be at his desk. I'll put you through to his voice mail." You're prepared to leave a message when all of a sudden, Joe So-and-So answers.
Plans change. People have a few minutes before leaving for the client site or airport. Someone's waiting for that all-important call. Any of these can be the reason you find your contact at his desk. If he is, great! Make the most of the opportunity. And if he isn't, you've made one more dial in on your way to building a relationship. Leave a professional message and be sure to follow up.
YOU'VE LOST YOUR SCRIPT
Many teleprospectors, like telemarketers, rely on a script to make it through a prescribed number of calls. But scripts can be crutches. If you can remember the basic set of information you're after in your calling, you can make it through your dials, often with better success. Why? When you have to rely on your conversational skills, you'll make a special effort with each contact, and generally have true conversations as opposed to emotionless sales expeditions.
DURING THE LUNCH HOUR
The lunch hour is a nebulous concept in the modern work world. Some people take their hours religiously, while others grab a sandwich and eat at their desks. People work in different time zones depending on their own target market, so you may call at ten in the morning or two in the afternoon, and be told that your contact is "out to lunch." Your job is to keep dialing. It is very likely that someone on your list is available to talk.
WHEN YOU DON'T HAVE THE KARMA
Would you go to the doctor and expect to be told she wasn't in the mood to see patients? We've already acknowledged that teleprospecting is hard work, but if it's what you do, you need to be professional and dial away. Every day. Every hour. All the time. It's what you do.
There are exercises you can employ to psych yourself up for the task at hand. Just make sure that at the end of the exercise, you pick up the phone.
THERE ISN'T ENOUGH BACKGROUND ON YOUR PROSPECT
One of the best parts of being in business today is the access we all have to the Internet. You can visit prospect sites, LinkedIn or other social media, and do basic background work within a couple of minutes. What are you waiting for?
Besides, if you have knowledge gaps with regard to your prospect, isn't the best information going to come directly from them? And wouldn't you agree that asking people to talk about themselves is one of the best forms of flattery? Be genuine in your interest, and you could make a friend for life.
IT'S THE DAY BEFORE A HOLIDAY
This one I'm really excited about. This past month, I made cold calls on—you guessed it—July 3rd. And the result? I had a demo set up for the Monday after the holiday, and new business shortly after.
Too much time is wasted in thinking up excuses for not making your telephone calls. There's an old gardening message that says, "When should you prune in your garden? Whenever the shears are sharp." Get sharp. Make those calls. Your consistent efforts will reduce the "feast or famine" scenario that so many businesses suffer. Call. Call now. Today is the best day to dial away.
And bad times for cold calling? There aren't any.