Heat up your cold calls
Let’s face it, nobody really enjoys making cold calls and certainly nobody likes getting them. But they are a part of doing business and they’re not going away anytime soon. Making a connection remains a crucial skill to possess, whether you are a salesperson, business owner, job seeker or fund raiser. Unfortunately, most people find cold calling the most intimidating and dreaded aspect of selling.
Cold calling the “traditional” way instantly puts you in a negative light because customers find cold calls to be intrusive, annoying, disrespectful of their time and downright bothersome. “Traditional” selling is a shotgun approach where salespeople attempt to sell their products to every prospect, regardless of need. It creates tension and could be construed as confrontational. But when you approach the call in the new “non-traditional” way, you no longer sound or behave like the traditional, stereotypical salesperson.
A cold calling script is not a conversation! Many salespeople use scripts that don’t feel authentic, genuine or natural, and, unsurprisingly, produce dismal results. Scripts don’t facilitate building rapport, promote natural conversation or warm up that icy cold call.
A sales conversation is between two people, talking normally and acting naturally. When you are being yourself, your potential customers’ walls come down, which leads to longer calls and better results. I am not suggesting you wing it and say whatever comes to mind. I am suggesting you have a plan, execute it with precision, and focus on the customer and the important points you want to make. Make what you say about the person you’ve called, not about you.
Done well, cold calling can work. Done poorly with the wrong approach, it can be a waste of time, money and energy. Most salespeople start their cold calls with “Hi, my name is….I’m with…. we specialize in…”! If you only have about 5-7 seconds to grab a person’s attention and make an impression, why would you waste that time with such a weak opening? The call is over before it even starts.
There are many sales trainers out there with a variety of ill-advised tips and bad advice on the subject of cold calling. They teach salespeople to go into an immediate sales pitch, give a commercial on their company, and talk about all the great benefits their company offers. Wrong! Customers only connect and engage when they feel that you understand their issues before you start to talk about your solutions.
Make no mistake, all the tips in the world will never work if you still choose to start a call making it about you, your company and all the great things you can do.
Being able to cold call confidently, professionally and effectively will not only open up more potential business, it will also allow you to feel more in control of your own sales success.
Here are my top 3 tips for cold calling success:
1) Focus on the goal not the sale. Every cold call isn’t about the sale! The goal should be starting a conversation and getting the chance to go to the next step. Let them know who you are and find out if you’re compatible or if you have something they even want or need. Establish a relationship and gain trust with the contact first. There is plenty of time for the sale if there is a fit and as the relationship moves forward.
2) Organize your thoughts before the call. When you do, you avoid common mistakes that give the person you’re calling the chance to try to end the call or hang up. For instance, you should never ask, “Is this a good time to talk?” “Do you have a second?” or “How are you today?” When you ask those questions it creates instant resistance, the walls go up and the opportunity goes down. You’re attempting to engage them, not bore them with the same questions the last cold caller asked.
3) Prepare and practice. Prepare the same way you would if you were making a presentation or delivering a speech. Know what you want to say, how you want to say it and how you want to represent yourself, your company and your product or service. Then practice it out loud and practice various sales scenarios. Then there will be less anxiety and you can focus on the goal and the customer. Make it about them, always.
One last important point to mention: if you start your emails in the same manner as your cold calls – “Hi, my name is….I’m with…we specialize in…” – and then go into a sales pitch about all the great things you and your company can offer, think again. It’s much easier to hit delete than it is to hang up on you.
Your potential customers are in dire need and are waiting to be engaged with genuine communication, a fresh approach and a cold call that is different from everyone else! Don’t stay a victim of the traditional cold calling methods – learn to market yourself successfully and join the elite club of top sales producers. I did it and you can too. Remember, it’s not what you sell, it’s how you sell.