Cold calling is a proven way to warm up leads and secure face-to-face meetings. Lead generation working together with sales will deliver the best outcomes. It is a prolonged journey that focuses on process, vision and long-term goals. Lead generation requires patience. Taking a short-sighted view of lead generation sells it short on so many levels.
When evaluating ROI for cold calling, people often look at the number of calls made and the number of appointments obtained. The problem with this is that much of the value of cold calling is omitted. Combining this with several important factors will give a much clearer picture of the actual ROI from cold calling.
Every step of the process produces value so measuring ROI is tricky. There is added value in:
The targeted database containing accurate information
Consistent “touching” of the targeted audience
Relationships nurtured through conversations
Collected information for marketing strategy
Sharing updates with all parties in the process
The purpose of lead generation is to create business for the long term through engagement and by building the foundation for ultimate sales. When sales leaders take a short-sighted view of the lead generation process, it is detrimental to the sales outcome.
Instead of focusing on a wide top-of-funnel approach, think more strategically about targeting the right leads and accounts, and nurturing those for the highest qualified leads possible. This will set the stage for bigger and better things to follow. Look at the big picture, have patience and reap the benefits.
Often cold calling success is measured simply by the number of appointments made with relation to the number of calls. Some look at cold calling as a panacea for lead generation and expect an appointment for every call made. This is thoroughly unrealistic. When cold calling is done correctly, several levels of value are intrinsic in every call, even if an appointment is not obtained.
Provides an opportunity to be in front of the prospect, even if at the time of the call the prospect was not experiencing the pain you could address.
Engages with the decision maker, nurturing your relationship with them.
Provides value to your sales process by adding indispensable information garnered from the conversation with the prospect.
Serves to clean up your list. No matter what your source or how recent you obtained the data, 20% of your information can be out of date.
Saves time and expense by eliminating unqualified leads in your database
The mentality that every call must result in an appointment or that a certain volume of appointments must be met loses site of the greater purpose of cold calling. Cold calling is the foundation for getting sales off the ground. Without cold calling, companies would find themselves without a consistent flow of appointments, without the information they need to take sales to the next step, and without the relationship that is needed to close the sale.
Don’t lose sight of the bigger picture. When your cold calling efforts don’t return a certain volume of appointments, the call campaign was far from worthless.
In my last article, I talked about different aspects of cold calling that can be used to set yourself apart. In this issue, we are zeroing in on messaging. The key to success in appointment setting is saying the right things in the right order so that the prospect will stay on the phone and engage in a conversation with you.
Grabber. The beginning of the call is all about creating rapport so that the prospect is willing to continue. You have 20 seconds to keep them on the phone. Don’t start with who you are because your prospect doesn’t know you. If they hear that, they will know it’s a sales call and may hang up. DONT give your company name. Start with something like, “Hello Paul, this is Nancy Calabrese…we don’t know each other.”
Ask permission to stay on the phone. Following your very brief introduction, the next step is to get the prospect to agree to give you a moment to speak. “I know you are busy. If you give me a brief moment, I’ll tell you why I’m calling.” Confirm with the prospect that it is OK to continue.
Introduction to what you do. Follow this with a simple statement the name of your company and what you do, specifically the problems you solve and why your customers buy from you. Find out if they are experiencing any of the same problems.
Turn the conversation around. Ask strategic questions about the issues the prospect is experiencing. Apply open-ended, thought provoking questions that will encourage the prospect to share important details about their business and issues. The more they talk, the more emotional they get. Customers buy from emotion. Our job is to uncover it.
Ask for a meeting. Suggest a meeting to determine if a there is fit for one another. If their issues are deep enough, they will be willing to make an appointment. If they are not, OR your message is not compelling, you may not get an appointment or they may blow you off entirely.
Make the appointment. Agree to the day and time and length of the meeting.
Summarize. Touch on the agenda of the meeting. Agree to be honest and let you know if they feel your services are not a fit, and in kind, you will do the same.
Capture email and direct phone number. This will enable you to send support materials, such as collateral or a questionnaire, in preparation for the meeting.
These steps will help increase your success rate, but be sure it doesn’t sound rehearsed. Take an honest interest in your prospect and the call will sound natural and you’ll have even better chance of success.
We all like to think that our company is unique. In reality, there are hundreds of companies just like your own vying for the same business. Perhaps your product or service offering is different in some way. But ultimately what sets each of us apart is our sales approach. Cold calling, like outside sales, requires an approach that will make you stand out from your competition, get you appointments, and lead to closed sales. Here’s how to use cold calling to differentiate yourself.
System. A systematic approach to cold calling will help drive the success of your team. More importantly, a well thought out and executed sales process will make the salesperson and your organization come across as more professional to the prospect.
Attitude. Don’t think of it as cold calling, think of it as discovery. You are on a fact-finding mission to find out what problems the prospect is having that you may be able to solve. Make the call about your prospect, not about you. Project enthusiasm and energy through your tone and actions.
Messaging. Cold calling is all about messaging. If you don’t sound different from all the other calls the prospect gets, you won’t be successful and the call will end in a hang-up. When you stand out, the prospect will listen. Once they are listening, the conversation turns to uncovering their pain.
Relationship Building. Engaging in conversation with a prospect on the phone, and learning about the prospect’s needs, goes a long way toward generating leads and closing the sale. Being a good listener and building a relationship is key in setting yourself apart from competitors.
Perseverance. You may not get through to the prospect the 1st time, or the 5th time, or many more times thereafter. Even when you get through, they may not need your product or service at that moment. What will impress your prospect is being there when they do need what you have to offer.
Time. Cold calling is not a one-and-done undertaking. Some industries require more nurturing than others. For example, in insurance there are thousands of brokers competing for the same business so it will be necessary to invest more time to be successful. Regardless of the industry, lead generation takes time to nurture, build a relationship, and understand the prospects issues and needs. Your prospect will appreciate the time and effort you have devoted to talking with them.
Without investing in these aspects of lead generation, you will seem like any other company out there, and your cold calling effort will fail.
We’re all salespeople, at least to some extent. Every negotiation we enter into, both personally and professionally, requires us to convince other people and convert them to our side of thinking. Some are better at selling than others. While we often hear that good salespeople are born, not made, it’s just not true. Selling is mostly a science, not an art. A solid sales process provides the science for anyone to become a top performer.
Successful sales organizations live by their sales process. A best in class sales process is:
Reinforced through specific activities & tools
Measureable & trainable
Constantly improved upon
Aligned with the customer’s buying process
Reinforced through coaching by 1st line sales managers
A well thought-out sales process will help you implement a common sales methodology that leverages the processes used by high performers. You’ll be able to prepare your salespeople for different situations that they may encounter and your team will be able to leverage those best practices in real-time. Your process will make it easier for new salespeople to get on board.
A Process That Reps Prefer
Sales reps appreciate a standardized process because it helps them be more efficient, develop stronger skills through repetition, and spares them from having to reinvent the wheel with every prospect or opportunity. When they come to a roadblock, the process provides them guidance with suggested next steps. Sales reps also gain a sense of company commitment, support, and dedication toward the sales department and their efforts.
Managers Benefit Too
Sales managers and business owners appreciate the sales process concept. Once the process is defined, it is easier to manage the sales funnel and the expectations surrounding sales activities. Managers can determine where in the sales process the sales reps are getting stuck so they can address these issues sooner rather than later. Sales issues are often due to lack of effort or the ineffectiveness of sales methodology. A sales process takes the guesswork out of this, and allows a manager to manage the sales reps behavior and activities accordingly.
The greatest satisfaction, for both the company and its sales reps, comes when they see the true outcomes of being able to handle different selling situations successfully, positioning themselves stronger against competition, communicating their value proposition more effectively and closing more accounts faster. With an effective sales process, goals will be met consistently and achieved without wasting time, energy and money.