Focusing on Success
"It's important to focus not on the number of calls that don't result in a sale (or an advance towards your objective) but rather on the number of calls that do. With enough calling, there will ALWAYS be advances. Some of these advances will turn into sales."
Part 1 of 2
1. Be Courageous
Cold calling takes guts and a thick skin. Sales in general is full of rejection and cold calling certainly has it in abundance. But to be successful in sales you have to be able to drive results and the phone is one of the quickest ways to do that. What if you make a bunch of calls and everyone says no? Like most things in life, it's better to face the results directly and understand your position completely. New lists can be acquired, new markets approached and scripts can be altered. It's better to understand and make adjustments based on what's learned than to do nothing and hope for the best.
When you reach voice mail, your message should say you'll be sending an email with a link to your website/brochure/whitepaper/case study. If they click through the link (which you will be watching for with your email tracking system, right?) they are a warmer prospect and should be called persistently but gently until you reach them.
If you don't have their email address, your message should say "I'd like to send you a link to our website/brochure/whitepaper/case study but I don't have your email address. If you are interested in receiving it, please call me back and leave your email on my voice mail or email me at ...". A small percentage will reply but the ones who do will be solid leads.
It's important to focus not on the number of calls that don't result in a sale (or an advance towards your objective) but rather on the number of calls that do. With enough calling, there will ALWAYS be advances. Some of these advances will turn into sales.
2. Have an Objective
What is the objective of your call? Is it to make a sale on the first call? Are you trying to set-up an over the web demonstration or face to face meeting? Your objectives need to be clear to you or you can't steer the call in the direction you want. Your process and script need to support your objective. If you have multiple potential objectives, you need to be ready to think on your feet and follow the path of least resistance. Or be ready to steer the conversation back on track. Finally, your objective needs to be attainable and help you and the prospect. Don't just tell them everything you know and let them off the phone without trying to advance the sale. Example:
Prospect - "John, thank your for outlining your lead generation process for us. Let me think about it and get back to you".
Cold caller - "Thank you for taking my call this afternoon. At this point, most people like to see a demonstration of our capabilities before making a decision. When would you have some time, maybe Tuesday or Wednesday of next week, to take a closer look?".
3. Get to the Point
People are busy and can't afford to waste time. Don't waste their time! Tell them where you are calling from and why. Ask them for permission to proceed: "Is this a good time to talk for a minute?". Ask them how they are involved in what you calling about. If they're not the right person, ask for a referral, thank them for their help and move on. If they are too busy, say that you really just wanted to schedule a time to speak and ask for an appointment.
4. Be a Human Being
Human beings have patterns of social engagement. If I offer to shake hands, generally the other person responds in kind. If I say "good morning", people usually reciprocate. To not do so violates our social norms and people won't do it without a good reason. People also have patterns of dealing with unexpected or unwanted telephone calls. They generally listen until the caller takes a breath and then say "I'm not interested" or simply hang up. The skill the caller needs to develop is an ability to break the latter pattern (hanging up) and engage the former (human social engagement). So act like a human being on the phone. Don't talk at people, talk with them. Respect that you may be catching them in the middle of doing 10 things or not at their desk. If they start to abruptly disengage, say "I'm sorry, it sounds like I caught you at a bad time. When would be a better time to call?" Sometimes they'll say tomorrow, at which point you'll ask "what's better, morning or afternoon?" Whatever they answer, say "how about" and name a time.
5. Question to Engage
People are more comfortable when they feel in control of the conversation. And people tend to like to talk to people who are good listeners. So let them talk! The best way to get them to start is by asking questions. Once you unlock the door holding in the words, the call will be extended and move in a positive direction. The skill to be developed is to learn to ask open ended questions, warmly and naturally, in a sincere way. People are good at detecting when people are being false so be real. Also, avoid asking questions that can be answered with the word "no". Example:
Wrong Way - "Are you involved with generating sales for your company?". "No", click.
Right Way - "How are you involved with generating sales for you company?". "Well I get involved when..."
Once they start talking, you can engage and qualify them with further open ended questions. Then close for the advance or sale.
I'll be posting tips 6-10 over the next couple of days.