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.
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!
I am often asked if there are different Cold Calling tactics for different Industries. The answer is, yes, we may modify our script slightly to provide industry specific examples or wording but actually, the biggest difference is in how much TIME it takes for the prospects to ‘convert’ to a qualified appointment.
Cold calling is cold calling no matter what industry you are calling. It is simply a discovery call. Your goal, across industries, is to engage a stranger, whom you have determined to be a decision maker, in meaningful conversation.
If you are going after SMB’s (small and midsized businesses) you are more likely to reach a decision maker sooner, as a small business owner is just more likely to take a call.
Typically, the larger the company, the longer it takes to reach that decision maker. When you have to navigate through multiple layers of gatekeepers, it slows the process.
It may also take a bit longer if the industry is oversaturated, like it is with IT providers, financial advisors, insurance providers and some others. With those, you may also face built up resistance and fatigue which can slow you down. As with all calls, PATIENCE and PERSISTENCE are your best tactics!
This isn’t a ‘one and done’ process
And remember, no matter which industry you are working in, cold calling is never a ‘one and done’ process. Making the calls is KEY – without those calls, you will never set any appointments – but you must also have a FOLLOW-UP plan in place if you want those appointments to convert to sales. Building RELATIONSHIPS for the LONG TERM requires a process to follow-up with those new prospects. Salespeople that have this ‘long game’ mindset and a plan to follow-up, will succeed. They know that they need to not only make the connection but to NURTURE it. They establish trust and STAY in touch on a regular basis so they stay top of mind.
It may take a bit longer to reach decision makers in certain industries but across the board, what really matters is that you have the patience and persistence to make, and then nurture, those connections so they convert to appointments and sales!
Do you need help connecting with decision makers? Assistance with follow-up? Our Call Center in a Box provides you with the training, management and monitoring YOU need to succeed in Cold Calling. Give us a call TODAY at 908.879.2911 to learn more!
There are two basic approaches to selling: selling a product or selling a solution.
In my experience, selling a solution will generate more sales and cultivate more valuable, long-term relationships with your customers.
The key to successfully selling a solution is to clearly understand the prospect’s problem.
We do this by asking pointed questions and ‘actively listening‘ to the responses. And at One of a Kind Sales (OOAKS), we also train our salespeople to identify and match the prospect’s communication style so we can connect and respond more effectively.
We use a tool, called a DISC assessment, to help team members determine the buying styles of prospects so that they can then adapt their communication style to match that of the buyer.
The DISC Model
The DISC Model was first introduced in 1928 by William Moulton Marston, a physiological psychologist with a Ph.D. from Harvard, in his book Emotions of Normal People. (1).
He identified 4 profile ‘types’:
D = Dominant
I = Influencer
S = Steadiness
C = Conscientious
Dominant Type – They typically have fast-paced speech and a strong personality. They tend to think in terms of the bottom line and often have a quicker, more impulsive decision-making style.
To improve communication with “D” types:
- Don’t dominate the conversation, listen more
- Create a situation to give them a win
- Ask specific, targeted questions and don’t waste their time
- Keep a fast pace to match theirs
- Give direct answers without a lot of “fluff”
Influencer Type – They are friendly and talkative. They typically enjoy interacting with people and like chit chat. Influencers respond well to testimonials and hearing about benefits in an upbeat, positive way. They tend to be less detail-oriented and focus more on the big picture.
To improve communication with “I” types:
- Be friendly and animated with your conversation
- Ask for their ideas and opinions
- Applaud and compliment
- Don’t dwell on the details
- Provide personal stories on how other people have benefited from your solution
Steadiness Type – They are patient and easy-going. You can identify these individuals by their reserved, indirect, but people-oriented approach to others. They typically have a deliberate and methodical decision-making style and may resist change or anything they perceive as a risk.
To improve communication with “S” types:
- Don’t pressure them to make a decision quickly
- Listen patiently and take time to explain
- Speak with a sincere tone of voice
- Discuss the process
Conscientious Type – They are methodical and deliberate. They tend to focus on the details and are primarily concerned about doing things the “right” or “correct way.” This buying behavior style can be skeptical and is often concerned with analytics and the effects of change.
To improve communication with “C” types:
- Present data to back up claims about your solution
- Avoid asking too many personal questions
- Slow down and answer questions precisely
- Involve them in planning
- Be conservative in assertions
Use a DISC assessment to identify your prospect’s ‘DISC type’ and adjust your approach to achieve better sales outcomes.
Tools to help
There are many DISC based assessment and insight tools available. I use the Crystal integration for LinkedIn. I find it helpful, providing me with personality insights before I meet with prospects or clients. There are others out there as well – find one that works for you.
Control What You Can
As salespeople, we cannot change or control the prospect. They decide if they want to purchase or not. But we CAN control our communication style. It’s our job to adjust our style appropriately. If we can help make the prospect’s decision-making more comfortable or easier then we can gain their trust, establish credibility, and keep the sales process moving forward. A win for everyone!
For more Cold Calling tips, see my post Cold Calling Success Tips – The Tone of Your Voice is Key
Want to learn more about how to use assessments like this to get better results with YOUR prospects? Give me a call at 908.879.2911 – we can show YOU how to effectively and successfully connect with YOUR prospects!
Note: this post was originally published in 2018 and updated in 2021.
Why Email Can Never Replace Phone Communication
We are all very attached to our electronic devices for email, text and social media communication. But when it comes to relationship building, picking up the phone and speaking to your prospect is the only way to go. Certainly, cold calling takes more effort than shooting off an email. It also takes practice and skill but there are many benefits in using phone conversations for lead generation.
Phone communication fosters personal relationships. There is no electronic media that allows you to build a personal relationship with a prospect. A personal relationship is key in cultivating and closing a sale. Phone conversations make building relationships easier.
Phone calls are an opportunity for the prospect to talk to you. People love to talk about themselves – to tell their story. If you do not give prospects a chance to do so, they feel unheard and sale will go nowhere.
Phone calls lower the risk of being misunderstood. Email lacks social cues like tone of voice, clear emotion and pauses, which can easily lead to your message being taken the wrong way. We may think we are interpreting the tone of an email correctly but in fact we often are not. There is no misinterpretation in a live phone discussion.
Phone or in person communication builds trust. People do business with people that they know, like and trust. Conversations generate honest discussions that emails cannot deliver.
Phone conversations provide constructive feedback. They give you a valuable insight which you can use to improve your solution and sales process.
Phone conversations are an opportunity for 2-way communication. How will you know if there’s a good fit between you unless you and the prospect can ask questions.
Phone calls are 10 times more likely than email to lead to sales*. Emails are more often than not considered spam unless they are directly relevant and the sender is someone known. No surprise that human interaction is more effective than email since salespeople have been around much longer than email has.