This time of year, when I tell people I’m a cold calling expert, they often comment, ‘well this must be a tough season for you and your team because it’s summer.’ This belief that everyone is on vacation and decisions are not being made is a common misperception.
In fact, our experience is quite the opposite. Here are some tips to make sure that you can use to jumpstart your summer cold calling activity and increase the likelihood of success.
- Know your target: Understanding your target means that you’ll know what motivates them to be interested in your offering.
- Know who the decision makers are: The decision maker is the one person you need for the appointment when you are cold calling.
- Develop and use a good script. Having a script allows you to think about and internalize your approach to the call in advance and anticipate different paths of discussion that might occur.
- Understand how your solution solves their problem. You’ll need to be able to recognize when a prospect is telling you something that indicates they are a qualified lead.
- Use Active listening. Make sure you’re not doing most of the talking. Allow the prospect to tell you about themselves and their business. This is when we learn what the opportunity really is.
- Pivot for the appointment. Once you’ve confirmed that there is a need, go for the appointment. Remember that a typical cold call is generally no more than 4 to 9 minutes. Making the appointment with a qualified lead is your objective. Leave deeper probes will be made during the first 30-minute appointment
Yes, these steps look like the basics…. and in fact, they are the tried-and-true core of cold calling best practices. There’s a reason why they are best practices – it’s because they work no matter the time of year.
If you need help implementing best practices as an individual salesperson or with an inside sales team you manage, reach out to us. We LOVE cold calling. Contact us at 908-879-2911.
Memorial Day is often thought of as the official start of summer – and depending on where you live, it’s also the official start of hurricane season. If you live in one of these hurricane-prone areas, this is the time of year that officials start reminding residents about hurricane preparedness. You need to plan in advance for what you’ll do when a hurricane strikes because not having a plan can put your life at risk.
This focus on preparation always reminds me of my business, One of a Kind Sales. Preparation is a critical success factor in sales. And that’s never more apparent than when you are making cold calls to set up appointments.
Anticipate the ‘Pain Point’
Here’s a cold calling sales preparation tip for you. Make sure you understand what factor motivates your prospect to be interested in your solution and ensure that you have a plan for how to engage in a discussion about it. Often this motivating factor is referred to as a ‘pain point.’ Prospects will express it as a source of frustration, or dissatisfaction. As cold callers we are looking for this as a point of qualification that the prospect could be a good candidate for our solution. As part of your sales preparation, you should anticipate several ‘pain points’ your prospects could have that they would like to resolve. Your plan should involve becoming conversant in these areas so that you are able to engage your prospect.
Start with a Script
I’ve personally found that it’s best to start with a script. When I mention ‘creating a script,’ it’s not so you can learn to recite the script word for word, but so that you can begin to internalize the messaging. When it comes to eliciting ‘pain points’, writing out your prompts and your responses in a script format helps to organize your thoughts. Reviewing the script helps make the responses second nature to you. This improves your ability to have a discussion with your prospect. Working this way, you don’t have to “wing it” based on what the prospect says to you. You’ve prepared by anticipating several possible responses and you are truly ready to engage.
Go for the Appointment
Once you’ve confirmed that the prospect is experiencing a discomfort, frustration, or ‘pain’ that you’re your solution addresses, you’ve qualified the prospect. Your next step is to set up the initial appointment.
At One of a Kind Sales, our core expertise is Cold Calling! We’d love to work with you to create the most productive approach for you and your team. To explore the possibilities, give us a call at 908.879.2911.
At One of a Kind Sales, I lead a team that does cold calling of prospects to set up initial meetings for our clients. Companies like ours often use one of two methods to accomplish this: either the ‘features and benefits’ approach or the consultative selling method. I have a strong preference for the consultative selling method.
‘Features and Benefits’ Selling Focuses on You
When you’re selling using the ‘features and benefits’ approach, you’re focusing attention on yourself and your offering. The core messaging centers on how the offering’s features will benefit the prospect. These kinds of conversations feel more like a hard sell, and I believe that they are perceived that way as well by the prospect. From the moment the conversation starts there’s little focus on understanding where the prospect fits in the equation. Because of this, features and benefits selling tends to lead to more immediate rejections.
When cold calling using the ‘features and benefits” approach the objective is normally to schedule 15 minutes with a prospect to talk to them in greater depth. But this is 15 minutes spent with a client that has not been qualified. I can’t image that anyone would think this is a good use of time. We also find that appointments arranged using the ‘features and benefits’ approach result in a high percentage of ‘no shows.’
Consultative Selling Centers on the Prospect’s Needs
In Consultative Selling, the prospect is the focus of the discussion. The discussion is about their needs and challenges with the objective of determining whether they are a fit for our solution. Then, and only then do we schedule an initial meeting. We request a 30-minute initial conversation. During that meeting we continue our conversation with the prospect about their specific situation. This approach fits with what we know about psychology of most buyers: it’s all about them, not about us. In our experience, the consultative selling approach has yielded higher quality initial meetings and an overall higher conversion rate.
If you’re in sales and you’re transitioning from a ‘features and benefits’ approach to consultative selling, you’ll end up sharpening your skills. Admittedly the transition may be somewhat uncomfortable because you are accustomed to talking about the offering right away. As salespeople, we are excited about what we are selling and have a natural desire to talk about it. But delaying this gratification and focusing on the prospect’s needs first results in a better qualified prospect. You’ll have a greater likelihood of being able to close a deal.
At One of a Kind Sales, we love to do cold calling. We also train inside sales teams to do cold calling. If you’d like to discuss how we can help move your business to the next level by increasing your sales opportunities reach out to us at 908-879-2911.
What do you do when you have a qualified prospect that gives every indication that they want your solution but they suddenly disappear? It seems like they’ve fallen off the face of the earth. They don’t respond to calls, texts, or emails. I’m sure many of us salespeople have experienced this at some point.
This is where sales training comes into play because it gives you a set of tools to use in different circumstances. In this situation, you need to clarify whether in fact the sale is still alive.
One approach you could use is to express some vulnerability and offer to “close the file” on the sale. For example, “I thought we were ready to move forward, but it seems like something might have changed that I’m unaware of, and I should probably close the file.”
You could call this approach the “Takeaway.” Using this technique, you share what you thought, communicate your sense that there is a change in strategy or situation, and demonstrate your willingness and comfort to walk away. You give the prospect an “out” without putting them on the defensive. The goal here is to elicit a response while preserving the relationship you’ve built. Your ultimate objective is to ascertain whether the sales process will move forward.
If The Answer is No
If the client indicates that things have changed and they are unable to move forward, you know you can move on to the next opportunity. You may get insight into why things changed, and then you can determine the type of follow up that should happen. The Takeaway sets you up so that you’ll be able to shake hands and walk away on good terms.
If the Answer is Yes
If the discussion resumes, then the client should be willing to make progress towards closing the deal. This could be one of those situations where factors you have no control over have impacted progress: a change in leadership, a family illness, an urgent project, a financial issue. But it also could be that they have questions that they have been able to verbalize. You’ll take your cue on how to proceed based on their response to the Takeaway.
I think what’s most important when using the Takeaway is remembering that you are on an equal footing with your prospect. You’ve committed your valuable time to them because you had a solution that fit the prospect’s needs. They have given you their valuable time for the same reason. When something fundamentally changes, it’s better to address it to understand what might need to happen so that the sale goes forward, or the file can be closed.
At One of a Kind Sales, we believe training is fundamental to sales success. If you or your team need help in using sales techniques to close more business, contact us at 908-879-2911.
My team and I make sales calls every day. We focus on building a relationship of trust with a prospect while moving towards the close. To accomplish this, we use customized scripts that we’ve internalized, as well as a variety of proven sales techniques.
There are three useful techniques that we don’t use as readily as we might when we move deeper into the sales process. I have seen them be very effective in moving discussions forward when used strategically.
“My Biggest Fear”
Express a specific concern you have about how the prospect might perceive your solution. An example of this is: “My biggest fear is that you see this solution as an instant fix. In fact, it may take several months for you to see its impact.” This technique calls attention to a potential stumbling block and positions you as an honest presenter of the facts. You’re calling out an issue that the prospect may not have paid attention to that could emerge later and derail the sale. If this is an issue for the prospect, it’s better to find out now and address it.
Get the prospect to justify why they need your solution. During the discussion, you could comment: “It looks like this might not be one of your priorities now.” This will either lead to confirmation that it isn’t important to them, or it will cause the prospect to explain to you why it’s a priority. The outcome is that your prospect develops a better understanding of how your solution is relevant to them.
This is a variation on the Justification sales technique in which you suggest that the prospect doesn’t really need your solution. You could say, “Perhaps you don’t need any help in addressing this.” Once again, the prospect has a couple of obvious responses, the first being “you are right,” and the second being, “No, we need help.” You’ve gotten the prospect to validate the need for your solution.
Using these techniques may reveal that there is no opportunity at this time. But experience has taught me that it’s better to know this as soon as possible so that you can move them into follow up mode and transition to the next opportunity.
You can see how these techniques might move the relationship forward and reinforce the value of your solution. Keep them in your sales tool chest and use them appropriately.
At One of a Kind Sales, we love sales, and we particularly love cold calling. We believe being well-prepared to sell is critical to success. If you or your team would benefit from learning more about these and other sales techniques, call us at 908-879-2911.