Are you sick of all of the wonderful pitches, tips and magical scripts you’ve heard on cold calling? Are you also tired of listening to the naysayers that cold calling is impossible, useless and has no place today?
Well cold calling does indeed still have a place on today’s sales playing ground, and while the face of this tried and true sales activity may have changed and evolved, it is still effective.
Below are three cold calling tips that will help bring back that feeling you used to have when you thought that people you called actually had an interest in talking to you. The following techniques will not solve all of your cold calling issues, but they will certainly help your calls start out a little bit warmer.
#1- Kill the Enthusiasm
In the beginning of the telephone call, tone down the enthusiasm and get rid of the big smile. The old idea that if you are excited and enthusiastic about the call, the prospect will also become excited, is just plain nonsense.
That fake, unnecessary, overenthusiastic attitude at the beginning of the call acts like a warning beacon to your potential customers, screaming “BEWARE…TELEMARKETER CALLING!” It projects the image of the stereotypical telemarketer and forces people to react with defensive indifference. Be professional and pleasant, but not overjoyed.
#2- Reflect a Similar Pace and Tone
At the outset of the call, listen for the prospect’s mood and attitude. It is easier to sense than you may think. Just listen and get an idea of the person’s mental disposition. Then reflect back a similar or like attitude and mood. This does not mean that you should mimic or copy the prospect.
For example, if the prospect is very upbeat and jolly when they answer; be a little upbeat yourself. On the other hand, if the prospect is more sombre and businesslike, also be a little more serious. Just slightly adapt to the prospect’s current temperament.
#3 – Match Pace of Speech
Like the above tip, you need not mimic the prospect or try to imitate accents, but try to stay in tune with the prospect’s speed. If the prospect talks very fast, then speed up a little. Or slow down when you have someone who talks very slow.
The above three tips will help you come across as a little more familiar to the prospect. They will prevent the prospect from putting up mental barriers and hopefully give you a chance to talk to an open mind.
Before I sign off, here are some more cold calling tips for you:
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You are all ready to go. You have all of your leads for the day prepared and lined up in front of you. You have all of your rebuttals ready, and you have rehearsed your main talking points. You are ready to begin your cold calling session. You pick up the telephone and make the first call. The prospect was not in. Whew! Time to take a break.
A quarter of an hour later you’re back at your desk and you start again. You make a call. The prospect said he was not interested and hung up. You then suddenly realise you have some paperwork from last week’s sale that you MUST get done right now.
If this prospecting period sounds remotely familiar, it is because you suffer from a fear of cold calling. “Phone Phobia,” – a term coined by sales superstar John Landrine in the U.S. in the early 90’s – is a serious problem and entails much more than what you may think. To overcome the fear of cold calling, you first must UNDERSTAND the fear. So, first let me give you a clear explanation of the fear, followed by a way to get rid of it.
Everything Is At Risk
At the heart of the fear of cold calling is that usually the sales person puts too much weight or importance on the value of a single telephone call. The thought process, though mostly subconsciously, goes something like this:
1. To be successful and have all the things you want, you have to close lots of sales
2. To close lots of sales, you have to close one at a time
3. Before you can close one sale, you have to do a successful sales interaction
4. Before you can complete a successful sales interaction, you have to have an appointment
5. The next telephone call is to make that appointment
6. Therefore, if I fail at this call, I lose everything!
The sales person believes that everything depends on this one call, and since he or she has no real control over the call or what the prospect says, it creates a horrible feeling of anxiety, depression and hopelessness. To overcome this fear, you have to put the cold call in its proper perspective.
What Is A Single Cold Call Worth?
So, exactly what is a cold call worth? It is certainly not worth your entire future, your home, car and life as you know it. But exactly, precisely what is the value of a single call? To figure this out, you need conclusive data. That is, real data from a CRM or database that contains actual sales activity records. Once you have the definitive data then do the math.
First figure out your closing average, as in how many closing attempts does it take on the average to close one sale. Let us assume that it is 20% or 1 out of 5.
Then check out how much money, on the average, you earn from one sale. And let’s assume that figure is £400. Therefore we know that it takes you 5 appointments to earn £400. In actuality, you earn £80 per appointment. Does that make sense?
Now, calculate how many cold calls it takes for you to set one appointment, and let’s say it takes 10 calls. So it takes you 10 cold calls to set 1 appointment, and that 1 appointment earns you £80. That works out to just £8 per cold call. That’s it. In this scenario, a single cold call is worth only £8.
But hold the phone! That is not £8 that you risk, or lose.
THAT IS £8 THAT YOU GET PAID GUARANTEED, NO MATTER WHAT!
The Truth Shall Set You Free!
This is no trick or play on numbers. This is actually how you get paid. If you work with any type of a commission, then you earn a certain amount of money every time you place a call, no matter what happens.
So the next prospect that yells, “I’m not interested!” Don’t get upset. Just thank him and go on to the next call!
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There are countless tips, tricks and gimmicks on how to begin a cold call. Of course, the majority of these ideas focus on how to get the call started or how to begin the call. Which makes sense, since if you do not get the call started correctly, it is over. However, what most people do not think much about is how to END that cold call.
The End is the Beginning
The way you end the call is as important and sometimes more so, than the way it began. If your goal was to set an appointment, and you did so, what you do and say as you end that call can make the difference on if the appointment happens or the prospect cancels or no-shows.
If you closed an actual sale on the telephone, then your call “Termination Tactics,” are even more critical. Below are three powerful tips to ending the call that will help actualise and materialise what you worked so hard to accomplish during that call.
#1 – Confirm and Summarise
After you have successfully set the appointment or closed the sale, you have to concretely summarise and confirm what happens. I know that sounds like it is automatic and assumed, and that is the problem. Most sales people take this for granted and it is a mistake.
Although, so you mentioned the product and costs ten times, or you talked about the meeting on several occasions during the call, you need to DO IT AGAIN!
“Once again, Sarah, I appreciate your time today and look forward to meeting with you next week. Let me just double check one last time; you will meet me at your office, located at 1234 Bending Road Place, Tuesday, that is the 12st, at 3:00 pm, is that right?”
#2 – Leave a Logical Backup
Remember, people make most buying decisions based on emotion and then justify or “back-up” those decisions with logic. On the telephone, when the prospect has agreed to buy or agreed to the appointment, he or she has made a buying decision, even if it is to buy the meeting. You must leave the prospect with some logic to help them justify or back up their decision after you get off the telephone.
“I want to just reiterate, Ethan, that during that brief meeting next week, I am going to show you exactly how to gain a slight advantage over your competition on the internet and leave you with some extremely valuable information. The meeting will greatly benefit you regardless of if you decide to do business with us or not…”
“Once again, Mary, the fuel adjustment gauges will arrive early next week, and you will see that you sill save a minimum of 24% on your costs starting from day one…”
#3 – Wait for the Prospect to Hang Up First
Lastly, after the good-day pleasantries, wait and let the prospect hang up the telephone first. You do not want the last thing the prospect or new client to hear be a telephone slam down on them. In addition, it is very easy for you to hang up as the prospect begins to say something or ask one last question. Also, you do not ever want it to appear that you were in a hurry to get off the phone. Slow down.
Confirm and summarise. Leave some logic behind and hang up last, and some of those great tips on beginning the telephone call might actually pay off in the end!
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Have you downloaded my latest report “The Sales Person’s Crisis”? Over 10,000 sales pros have.
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Ok, you are a pro. You have been cold calling for years, and despite the trend toward e-prospecting, and e-everything else, you have still perfected the art of being able to pick up the telephone and CREATE business, almost at will.
There are a few of us that have no fear of the cold-call and know how to get through the tough gatekeeper screen, get through to the decision-maker and set appointments or close sales. However, there are some pitfalls that even the best-of-the best have problems handling. Speaking to the telephone sales specialists, avoid these three mistakes and you will move on to levels that even you never thought were possible!
Simply put, sometimes your skill can be TOO much.
#1 – Too Smart
There comes a time when you know exactly what almost every prospect is going to say. You know every possible objection and you know how to handle each. Almost as if you have some type of extra sensory perception (ESP), you can cover every objection before they arise. It is easy to begin to assume that you know what the prospect is going to say before they actually say it. While you may be correct much of the time, you will be wrong as well.
In addition to assuming incorrectly, even when you are right, you will tend to cut the prospect off, sometimes in the middle of their sentence. You must remain open minded and listen to every response completely.
#2 – Too Quick
In addition to knowing too much, almost like somewhat of a psychic; always being right and having all the answers at the tip of your tongue, is a mistake. Prospects will often object simply because they feel you left them no objection. They feel you are too prepared and they have no control. Though you must maintain control, the prospect needs to feel as if they are in control. No one wants to feel as if they had no choice in the buying decision. Slow down and give the prospect’s objections and feelings some validity. Don’t overcome objections too fast and easy.
#3- Too Comfortable
Beginners and undertrained cold callers make the mistake of sounding too rehearsed, tense and phoney when making sales calls. However, the experienced pro can often sound too relaxed, loose and informal. You need to sound natural, and unrehearsed, but you must be careful to maintain a professional tone. It is easy to become so comfortable that your calls take on a casual, un-business like atmosphere.
Keep in mind that although you may have everything under control, the prospect cannot feel that there is a predetermined outcome.
You may be too good, but don’t be TOO good.
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Small talk: That warm up is always a good thing in a face-to-face sales interaction. It’s that short period of time you have to create some rapport and chitchat a bit to ease into the sales presentation.
However, should you ever attempt to initiate such a warm up in a cold call?
While there are some very different, if not, vastly opposing views on this among sales people, I don’t think there really is a controversy. In fact, on this subject, I believe that EVERYONE is right. Here is why…
NO! No Chit-Chit At All!
Some sales professionals admittedly believe that you should never attempt to make the slightest bit of small talk when cold calling. They feel that even to say something as natural as, “How are you?” is a terrible thing. To extend any type of pleasantry at the onset of a cold call is artificial and even phony. Get right onto business, no matter what the situation.
YES! Warm Up, Chat!
On the other hand, some feel strongly that you must make some connection with the prospect before getting into business. They feel that it is only natural and human to extend rudimentary pleasantries that you would offer in a normal telephone call. They feel it makes the call more natural and real.
Which is Best?
This is what I mean when I say everyone is right: What we all need to understand is that a cold call, a warm call, indeed, any type of sales call, should be an individual and customised inter-relational experience; hence, and INTERACTION.
While you should have a PLANNED talk, you should not have a CANNED pitch.
How Are YOU Doing?
First, you should never say anything that is uncomfortable for you to say. If it makes you uncomfortable to ask, “How are you?” then you should not ask. If you do not honestly have an interest in how the person is, then it IS phoney. In that case, you are right; don’t do it.
Alternately, if you feel natural and comfortable asking such a question; then do so. Many sales people actually have a genuine interest in how the person who answers the phone is doing at the time of the call. Many sales people would really like to know if the prospect is in the right state of mind to listen, or is having such a bad day, that any conversation would be a disaster.
So the first thing to think about is how are YOU—the sales person doing? Do what comes natural to YOU and makes you comfortable.
EVERY Call is Different
Finally, you should be able to adapt slightly to the mood and personality of the prospect. You should not have such a word-for-word script that you say the exact same thing to everyone.
You may feel that you should never get into the small talk, but what do you do when you get that prospect on the telephone, who obviously likes the small talk?
Alternately, you may be the sales person who likes to chitchat a bit, then meets the prospect who is strictly business and will get thoroughly insulted by your asking, “How are you?”
In addition to being yourself and not doing what is too uncomfortable for you to do; let the prospect tell you which way you should go.
“Hi Steve, this is Sarah Smyth with ABC Technologies. The reason I’m calling is that we help independent business owners with…”
“Hi Steve? (Pause) Sarah Smyth, ABC Technologies?” (Pause)
Make your introduction a question or questions, and pause—shut up. Don’t be afraid to let the prospect respond. Let the prospect tell YOU what will work with their mental disposition and personality.
Sales Person with Prospect #1
“Sarah Smyth, ABC Technologies?” (Pause)
“Steve, the reason I’m calling is recently we help independent business owners with…”
The prospect made it clear…get to business. On the other hand…
Sales Person with Prospect #2
“You got him!”
“Sarah Smyth, ABC Technologies…how are you?” (Pause)
“Doing pretty well. How about yourself?”
This is simple. Just remember that every prospect you call, is an individual, a real person. In addition, keep in mind that you are an individual as well. Treat both prospect and sales person like unique individuals, and you can’t go wrong.
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We have heard for years about how much today’s consumer detests receiving the dreaded cold-call. We all know that cold calling has become increasingly difficult and the modern-day buyer has become more evasive, defensive, suspicious and even hostile towards getting a telephone solicitation call.
As a result, there are tons of training and tips on how to handle such obstacles as well as many alterative prospecting avenues. However, my take is that to develop any solution, you must first truly understand the problem.
So, join me as I diverge today, and instead of giving you tips on how to overcome objections, get past gatekeepers or project a positive image; allow me to share some insight into WHY consumers have come to feel the way they do about receiving a cold call.
If you can genuinely understand and honestly empathise with the person on the other end of that telephone call, then you can begin to learn how to handle the situation from the inside– out!
#1. Privacy Violation
Of course, you have heard buyers complain that a cold call is an invasion of privacy. However, think of this analogy:
You are sitting at home with your family, relaxing or eating dinner or you’re in the middle of writing an important document at work. Suddenly a stranger bursts in the door and begins to walk right up to you. What would you do? Better yet, what would you actually say?
Responses to this person
Your first response might be questions like:
“Who are you?!”
“What do you want?!”
“Why are you here?!”
“How did you get in here?!”
You are doing nothing more than protecting yourself/family from a possible harmful source. It is a natural defensive reaction.
Now, if the answers to those first questions were inadequate, your next responses would turn more aggressive:
“We don’t have any valuables/money!”
“Get out of here!”
Responses to the Telephone Intruder
You have to realize that when you make a cold call, essentially you just “materialised” in that person’s dining room or working environment. When the prospect picks up the telephone, you are instantly in their living room, their office or perhaps their bedroom! Just like the above example, you just burst in the door, unannounced, and charged up to the person. Can you see why they react as they do?
Responses to a cold call:
“Who are you?!” “Is this a sales call?”
“What do you want?!” “What are you selling!?”
“Why are you here?!” “What are you selling!?”
“How did you get in here?!” “How’d you get my number/information/pass gatekeeper?”
These are not objections! They are normal and natural defences erected for protection from an unknown potential threat. If inadequate answers ensue, then real fear sets in:
Responses to a cold call:
“We don’t have any valuables/money!” “I’m not interested!”
“Get out!” “Click!” They hang up.
Can you understand why some tell you, “I’m not interested!” before they have any idea of what you sell?
#2. Personal Space
In addition to the intrusion, a cold call violates personal space. Think about it; when someone is talking on the telephone, where is the phone? It is right up against their face. You are a total stranger and suddenly you are right there, virtually nose-to-nose with the prospect. You are literally in their face!
#3. Lack of Knowledge
When you call someone, you immediately prove that you have more knowledge of him or her than he or she does of you. First, you called them, which means you have their telephone number and in many cases, it is a private number. You also knew the exact whereabouts of the person: you caught him at the office or her at home.
You know his name. You know her address. You know his job title. In fact, with very limited prospecting information, you could know what they do, where they work, how much money they earn and what kind of dishwashing detergent they use. However, at the time of the call, the prospect knows almost nothing about you.
People can feel this imbalance of power and it makes them uncomfortable.
#4. Lack of Control
Finally, with all of the above, the prospect was powerless in preventing any of it. They hired a sharp gatekeeper, set up voice mails, eluded calls, and still you caught them. The prospect simply had no control over your entrance.
This lack of control is what sends real fear into the hearts of today’s buyer and is why you have heard buyer’s use the term, “violated.” It is this severe, often hopeless feeling of a lack of control that is at the heart of the problems with cold calling.
However, if you think about it, there is one very simply thing the intruder could have done to avoid all of the first natural defences and the following unnatural defences.
All the intruder had to do was knock on the door.
Safely behind the door, the homeowner/decision maker could look and decide to let the person in or not. The resident could ask questions of the would be intruder—before they gained entry. Most importantly, the buyer would have the choice, the option of opening the door.
The buyer would feel as if they were in CONTROL of the situation.
That is the problem with a cold call. There is no way to give the prospect the immediate feeling of control. There is no way to knock on the telephone.
Or is there?
Posting Jan 6, 2012:
How to Knock On the Telephone
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When you call someone for the first time, it can be a bit unnerving to get their voicemail.
But it needn’t be, if you prepare effectively.
It always surprises me how many salespeople are not prepared for voicemail. These days, buyers are busier than ever, and even if they are available, may put their phones through to voicemail, simply because they don’t have time to take calls. They consider it better to not take calls at all, rather than tell the caller they are too busy and please call back later.
So what should you do? Well, firstly calculate how many of your calls to prospects actually do end up going to voicemail. Work it out as a percentage of your total calls and I’m sure you’ll agree that you could be wasting a lot of time and energy if you don’t get this right.
What do you say when you get through to voicemail? Have a prepared bullet-point list of things you would like to say, so you sound professional and reduce the ums and errs that often accompany these messages.
It also surprises me how some salespeople go to pieces when they talk to a machine. It’s as if they lose part of their brain that drives their common-sense and they dissolve into a mumbling, stuttering, incoherent wreck.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Remember this sequence, and all should be well:
Introduction: A cheery greeting with your name and company. You’re not trying to fake your way passed a gatekeeper or anything like that, so just be straight up and honest.
What you offer: This has to be a benefit to the prospect. Don’t just rattle off what you do or the products you sell…your message will be deleted before you get to the end.
What you want: An appointment would be good! So ask the prospect for one. He can’t say no at the moment, so you’ve got the initiative. If you’ve sold the benefits effectively, he should be willing to at least see you. So you might want to give one or two alternatives when you leave the message.
End effectively: Terminate with what happens next. Leave your contact details (ensuring your phone number is spoken at the same rate that people write) and say that you’re going to call again. By saying that, when you call next time and the gatekeeper asks if he is expecting your call, you can truthfully say ‘Yes!”.
By keeping this sequence in mind, you will be more confident and professional when you leave any messages for your prospects on their voicemail.
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Want some tips on cold calling?
Here’s the cold calling cheat sheet!
I must receive about 20+ emails each month that ask me for specific help and guidance on cold calling so here are some top tips:
1. Sound Like A Human Being
Try not to sound like a robotic cold caller. That’s what 95% of the cold callers sound like. You need to sound as though you are just calling up a colleague for a chat rather than a “have I got a deal for you” salesperson!
2. Learn How To Get Through Gatekeepers
You need to be able to identify a gatekeeper screen and also know how to get through them!
3. Opening Is The New Closing
Spend a lot of time on perfecting your opening to your calls. So many salespeople come to me and ask for tips on how to close a cold call. Just forget it! If you don’t open your calls in the right way you will not even get to the close! That means trying out different openings and measure the response and reaction of the prospect. Keep refining and modifying the opening until you nail it.
4. Understand Your Numbers
Keep detailed records of the calls you make, what you said, the response you get etc. You can’t manage and improve what you can’t measure. Keep tabs on the voicemail messages you leave and which ones get the most number of returned calls. If it moves, measure it!
5. Strong Work Ethic
Even if you close 10 out of 10 calls on the bounce please keep going and carry out your planned number of calls for that day. A 100% strike rate is not sustainable. You may go 50 calls with no sales in the future and you may feel like you’re in a slump when all it is are your averages catching up with you.
6. Have Clear Objectives In Your Mind
If your calling objective is to set an appointment then sell only the appointment! Don’t go into the latest and greatest benefits of your products and services. Stick to your objective!
7. Have A Secondary Objective In Mind
Ok, so they don’t want an appointment even if you gave them money for attending! What are you going to do then? You need to have a backup objective in mind. Can you find out who their existing supplier is? The length of the contract? There’s plenty of info you can find out!
8. Cold Calling Quick Wins
There are some quick wins to be had if:
– You can sound like and create the impression that you’re well known to the decision maker
– You can sound as though you’re an important person who expects to be put through
– You are polite! (A lot of cold callers in trying to sound important are out and out rude!)
– Assume that you’ll be put through in your mind
– Assume that you’ll be put through by not asking to be put through but by using the following:
“Hi it’s Sean, could you put me through to James please?”
“Hi Jenny, it’s Sean, could you let James know that I’m on the line, thanks”
By using “thanks” at the end of the sentence it assumes you’ll be put through and a lot of gatekeepers will assume that you know James and instead of giving you a qualification grilling and be made to look stupid if it were James’ best friend they will put you straight through!
Ok, there are hundreds of other cold calling tips – but these should get you started!
Before I sign off, here are some more cold calling tips for you:
Happy Cold Calling!
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Telephone: 0800 849 6732