A Better Approach to Cold Calling

According to the RAIN Group, a sales training and consulting firm, 58% of prospects say they currently find cold calls useless. Wow! Are YOU wasting YOUR time making ‘useless’ calls? Here is a better approach to Cold Calling.

What is a ‘useless’ call? 

If a prospect is finding your call ‘useless’, it is a good bet that you are calling people and doing what I call the “F&B Dump”. You are dumping a bunch of information, about the Features and Benefits of your product or services, on whoever is unlucky enough to pick up your call. 

That, or you are monopolizing the call with info about you, you, you.

Or maybe you are just launching into a hard sales pitch.

Or worst of all, you do all of the above!

A better approach to Cold Calling 

A better approach to Cold Calling is to start by confirming who you are speaking with. Make sure they are a decision maker and that they actually have a minute to speak with you. If they don’t, set up a time that works better for them. You are both busy, why waste each other’s time?

Asking permission like this can set you apart from all the other cold callers they encounter and sets you up for a CONVERSATION, among equals.

Make sure they are worth YOUR time 

Once you are speaking with them – not talking AT them or SELLING them, you should have a few, tightly scripted questions you can ask to determine if they have a need for your product or services.

Ask your questions and then really LISTEN to their answers. Use that information to determine if they are worth pursuing. If they are not a good fit, ask for a referral or a recommendation of someone they know who might need your product or services and then exit the call (click here for more on how to ask for a referral)

Make it worth THEIR time 

Another sales study found that 84% of buyers complain that sales reps are annoying in their efforts to convince them to buy.

If prospects are finding YOU annoying (as evidenced by rushing off the call, hanging up or otherwise uninterested in speaking with you) it is probably because you have either rushed to the sales pitch or bowled over them with all your talking.  

The initial cold call is not for hard selling – it is an exploratory call to see if they are a good fit. Going into sell mode will definitely annoy your prospect. 

Respect their time, identify if they have a need you can fill and if they ARE a good fit, move to set up a first meeting. (click here for what to cover in that meeting) 

Useless calls are a waste of time for you AND your prospects. Use our approach to have real conversations that convert to qualified appointments and sales. 

Need help? We train salespeople in the skills and tactics that deliver RESULTS – give us a call at 908-879-2911 to learn more!

How to Ask for a Referral

Who would you be more likely to buy from, someone who called you, out of the blue, or someone recommended by a friend or colleague?

Study after study have proven that referrals and recommendations are the BEST source of sales prospects. This post will show you why, when and most importantly HOW to ask for a referral.

First, let’s look at WHY we should ask for a referral.

Trust

Nielsen study on trust found that “84% of buyers are mostly influenced by recommendations from friends and family”. And trust is KEY to building relationships that convert to sales.

When you are working from a referral, they already trust you. This is a huge benefit, saving you time and, as long as you remain trustworthy, can actually speed up the relationship building and sales process.

Selectivity 

Along the same lines, an IDC study found that “almost 75% of executives prefer to work with salespeople who’ve been referred to them”. Executives are busy, being a referral saves them the time of vetting you. Get a referral.

Profit

Wharton School of Business study found that “Customers won through referrals are about 24% more profitable than other customers”. In addition to being easier to start a relationship with, once they are customers, they are less likely to leave.

Clearly, referrals are a potent source of quality leads.

Leaving money on the table 

But while 91% of customers say they’d give referrals, only 11% of salespeople ask for referrals!

Why don’t salespeople ask for referrals? These seem to be the top excuses – along with suggestions on how to overcome them:

  • “They won’t know anyone who needs my services” – you call prospects because they fit some basic criteria. It is a very good bet that they know others with the same criteria, or if they can’t use you, they may know someone who is an even better fit!
  • “It will make me look needy or desperate” – no, it will make you look like a ‘professional’. You aren’t begging for scraps; you are asking for an introduction. Executives know how important networking is – if you have impressed them with your knowledge and listening skills, they will be more willing to make a connection.
  • “I have enough leads” – if this were true, you probably wouldn’t be reading article this so, go work on getting referrals to get more, and higher quality, leads.
  • “They would refer me if they knew anyone who needed my services” – no, they probably have a dozen other things on their to do lists and helping you get leads is probably not one of them – BUT, if you ask, they may take the time to do it, so definitely try!
  • “I forgot” – make it a part of your scripting, a closing step to your pitch so it is something you do automatically. It is not an ‘afterthought’ but a final step in your sales outreach process.

HOW to Ask for a Referral

  • Happy Clients: Whenever you receive a glowing call, email or words of praise, ask them, “is there anyone else you know who might be interested in our services?”
  • New Prospects: Even if they don’t convert right then, ask them, “is there anyone else you know who might be interested in our services?” or “I know that we are not a good fit for your company right now, but is there anyone you know or work with who might be a better fit?”
  • At the end of the buying process: As a last touch point, make sure you ask for a referral! This can happen at a last meeting or as part of a follow-up email.
  • Bonus Points: At the BEGINNING of the buying process, at your kick off meeting, mention that you will, in a few weeks, be circling back to see if they know of anyone who might also be a good fit for your services. This gives them a quick heads up that you will be asking, makes asking a bit easier, as they expect it and gets a small ‘buy-in’ that that is part of the process. It also makes you look like a consummate sales PRO!

Salespeople who actively seek out and follow-up on referrals earn 4 to 5 times more than those who do not – make sure that YOU are asking for them!

Do you and YOUR sales team need more tips on how to be more effective? Our ‘Call Center in a Box’ program provides the training, management and monitoring your team needs to improve the quality of their interactions, the quality and quantity of leads and their SALES. Give me a call at 908-879-1322 or click here to set up a one-on-one call with me https://calendly.com/nancy-calabrese/one-on-one 

Click here more Cold Calling Tips and Advice

High Kicks, Basketball and Sales

Back in High School, I was the co-captain of our Kick Line Squad where we cheered on our sports teams by performing precision dance routines in the style made famous by the Rockettes.  

This came up the other day on a call with a basketball playing colleague. I mentioned that basketball had been my favorite team to cheer for. I loved the energy, the pace and, most importantly at the time, that it was played indoors! 

Though, I said, I don’t know why they didn’t give each team 100 points and let them just play that last 5 minutes of the last period since that always seemed to be when the game was won or lost. It always seemed to be a tie til those last plays. 

My colleague quickly pointed out, ‘No, no, no! You are missing the point.’ Basketball, he explained, is a game of ENDURANCE. It is a game won or lost based on the focus and stamina of the players over that entire 48 minutes – all four of those 12-minute periods. Yes, it may come down to the last play at the buzzer but the team that trained and practiced and stayed focused the entire game, will be the one who wins. 

I got it. And I immediately realized the similarity to the SALES process! 

Sales too, is a ‘game of endurance’. It can be a tiring slog and can frequently come down to a last minute play – a close – at the buzzer, but it is the player and team that has trained, focused and practiced that will more reliably deliver and more importantly, succeed. 

Do you and your team train regularly? When was the last time you actually had someone ‘coach’ you on your approach, scripting and tactics? 

At One of a Kind Sales, we train you and your team on the sales tactics and techniques that WORK. Then we monitor progress and meet to track and improve delivery. This work helps ensure that you can get past all the ‘no’s’, properly identify and convert the ‘yeses’, to deliver the leads and sales you and your company need to succeed.  

Think YOU or YOUR team could benefit from some sales ‘coaching’? Click here to set up a time to discuss how we can get YOU and YOUR team into the big leagues!

Building an “A” Team

At One of a Kind Sales, we have a LOT of experience assessing and training sales teams. Unfortunately, what we see is that most companies have mediocre sales forces with way more “B” and “C” level players than “A” grade salespeople. Here are some tips on how to assess YOUR sales team with suggestions for how to identify people worth training and how to build your own “A” team for sales. 

The first step is to assess your team.  

You probably know your “A” team salespeople. They are the ones who are making the calls, setting appointments and closing sales. These are the people you want to identify for advanced training, so they MASTER their craft. We have a good track record with training people like this to become reliable and effective producers. Click here to read more about our training, monitoring and management program, Call Center in a Box. 

Your “B” team players are the ones who might have some success but are unreliable or inconsistent in their performance. If they are consistently making calls, have a positive attitude and are receptive to training, this group may have the ability to become “A” players. We have a proven program to train “B” players to produce at “A” levels. Click here to learn more.

“C” level players are usually the ones who whine about having to make calls, push back against suggestions for new ways to approach the job and/or resist training. Here are some ways to address poor performance and to see if they are worth training:

  • Back up your assessment with data – show them their stats compared to others or a stated benchmark.  
  • Explain that consistently positive behavior is REQUIRED of them. 
  • Define the consequences of poor performance. 
  • Define the resources and/or training that is available to them. 
  • Request their ‘buy-in’ and permission to help them.  

If they are still not performing after your attempts to help them, it may be best to find them a different position or to just let them go. Having negative people who do not produce and/or follow the company’s specified approach can sap the energy and ambition of other team members, leaving you with less than stellar results.

And just because someone is NEW or does not yet have a book of business does NOT necessarily make them a “C” player. Being a “C” player is more about the lack of commitment and having a negative attitude. If they are committed and have a positive attitude, we can train new and young associates to get them to “B” and “A” level performance.

Remember, no matter how senior your people become, Cold Calling must ALWAYS continue to be a part of your sales team members’ daily, if not weekly, task list. This helps keep their skills sharp and your pipeline full.

If an experienced salesperson’s book of business IS truly so large that their entire time must be devoted to servicing clients, you need to outsource your Cold Calling in order to keep your pipeline FULL. A full pipeline is one of the only ways to ensure your company’s continued growth and success. Click here  to see how WE can make Cold Calls for YOU and deliver the qualified appointments you need to  keep your pipeline packed with prospects!

How does YOUR sales team stack up? Give us a call at 908.879.2911 if you would like us to come in and assess, train and get YOUR sales team up to speed! 

When Less is MORE

True or false? Constantly adding new leads will result in more sales.  

In our experience, this is FALSE. In the case of cold calling and lead generation, less is MORE. 

To calculate the number of leads you can follow-up on: 

Calculate number of hours you can dial per week x number of dials per hour = number of calls you can make per week.  

Anything more than that will not get touched.  

Focus on quality over quantity! 

Spend the time to speak with and really LISTEN to the prospects you reach and you will close more sales than just trying to amp up the sheer number of leads you approach.

How has the Covid-19 Pandemic Changed Cold Calling?

The Corona Virus (Covid-19) Pandemic has upended all of our lives. It has caused sadness and death around the world and has redefined how we live our daily lives. It has also transformed our workplaces and how we do business.  

Here at One of a Kind Sales, we LOVE Cold Calling and make calls all day, every day, for our clients and companies. People have asked me, ‘how has the Covid-19 pandemic changed cold calling’?  

Here is what we are seeing and some suggestions on how you can use these insights when YOU are making prospecting calls:

1. First and foremost, we are seeing this worldwide. This is an opportunity to remind each other that we are in fact, all in this together. Reminders like this can alleviate some of the fear we all feel and allow us to have more authentic conversations. Something we do NOT want to lose, once things get back to normal! 

2. People seem open to engaging in longer conversations. Use your time with them to learn more! 

3. We have found that asking how they are handling the crisis has been a good way to break the ice with many people. They feel like you are interested in them as more than a number. 

4. And many companies have changed the way that they route calls within their organization, due to most or all of their workforce working from home.  

Most companies have had to do a complete makeover of their IVR systems and voice prompts in order to adapt to the new changes. Some set their phone systems so that the calls are directly forwarded to cell phones or home offices. Others have a gatekeeper performing that role while screening the calls, and some others don’t have the ability to transfer calls at all and can only take a message or be contacted by email only, mainly because the receptionist is also working from home.  

These changes can allow us to reach decision-makers, who were previously unreachable. 

5. In some sectors, the economy is thriving. Stay positive and focus on the silver linings.  

As we have said from the beginning, now is NOT the time to sit back and wait to see what the future brings. We need to keep making those calls and to keep digging! 

A huge THANK YOU to my team for sharing their insights and expertise for this post. And now over to you – how has the Covid-19 pandemic changed cold calling for YOU and your team? Please comment below with YOUR insights and thoughts. 

Thank you and stay safe!