Gone are the days when you could simply pick up a phone, cold call a complete stranger and successfully pitch him about your product or service for 15-20 minutes. But this does not mean that cold calling is dead. Cold calling prospects is still one of the best ways to generate new leads, but the way you approach it has to change.
Your prospects are busy and they don’t have time for you. Hence rather than following the norm and pitching about your product or service, customize the calls and try to make it about the prospects. Have something prepared in advance to offer them, something that is directly related to their business interests or needs.
With this in mind, we have put together a list of steps that needs to be followed for cold calling success in current times.
1. Create a Positive First Impression
When it comes to cold calling, you only get one chance to get it right. Don’t spoil this chance with the usage of usual opening statements, such as:
“How are you today?” or
“Is this the right time to talk?”
Even if you don’t do anything else, see to it that you cut these weak and overused statements from your script and increase the chances of success by nearly 20%. Also do bear in mind that you have to sell yourself before you sell the actual product. Hence make sure that the first few lines that you utter will hit the right nodes, thereby positioning yourself in the right books of the prospect. Try to innovate and add a bit of humour with the usage of sentences like:
“Is this a bad time?”
“Have I contacted you at a bad time?” or
“You sound busy, are you sure that this isn’t a bad time?”
How does this help? Well, no one likes a sales call and it is always a bad time when it comes to receiving it. So as a caller when you appreciate this fact and articulate it upfront, it will on most occasions lighten up in the atmosphere. Upon hearing this sentence the person on the other end might do two things. One is he may giggle and say, “It is always a bad time!” The laughter is important, because it gives you an avenue to build rapport. Or, he might probably follow it up with questions such as, “but what’s up,” or “but what have you got,” which is more like giving you permission to go ahead.
2. Be Honest
Keep in mind that your prospects are smart and they will only buy from people they trust. Being less than honest with them will not help you to build this trust. Hence unless you mean it, never give in to the temptation of saying something like:
“This is not a sales call,” or
“We’re carrying out a survey regarding…”
Rather, once you have created a positive first impression, try to drive home the advantage by being honest and using rebuttals such as,
“I can sense that you’re busy, so I’ll not take too much time. By the way, this is a sales call. Are you sure that you don’t have any issue with it?”
“Mark, we haven’t met, and to be honest I am not sure whether this conversation will benefit you in any way. But if you have a few minutes, I will shed light on the reasons why executives like you might be interested in interacting with a sales rep like me?”
3. Use a Third Party Story to Build Rapport
Once you have broken the ice with your honesty, try to use a third party story to build a personal connection with the prospects. To be successful in this endeavor you have to stay clear from broad and meaningless claims such as:
“I have a proposition that can transform your business”
“We excel in making our clients successful” or
“Are you looking for ways to save money?”
Instead, take the conversation to the next level by sharing a genuine example wherein you have helped a client in the same industry as your prospect. This will let your prospects know that you are well versed with the problems in the industry and are qualified enough to solve their issues. For this purpose you can use something like:
“Mark, to clients in the IT space – or a CIO in a similar position – we have solved problems pertaining to high costs associated with employee turnover, regulatory changes and software/infrastructure upgrades. Which of these are you most interested about?”
The key here is to select 2-3 problems that are broad and comprehensive enough to relate to a majority of your prospects.
4. Understand the Things That Matters the Most to Your Prospects
Next comes the easiest but most crucial step of all – probing and understanding exactly why the prospect selected the problem that he did.
Only when you truly understand this, can you start the process of offering an appropriate solution.
5. Secure the Action
Now comes the sweetest part: asking if it is okay to move ahead, and then securing the action with something like:
“Mark, does it make sense for us to continue the discussion?” or
“Mark, if finding a solution to this problem is so important to you, then is it okay if I arrange a meeting, say 30 minutes this Friday, and discuss the solution in detail?”
One final word of advice: don’t leave anything for chance. Be proactive and prepare in advance before making every cold call. And keep in mind that not every call will convert into a sale and be prepared for rejection.
Finally don’t forget to have fun. Make your prospects smile, and try smiling yourself.