It’s All About Them

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.

Selling is Not a Race to the Finish

I know the feeling. You’ve got the prospect on the phone, and you’ve confirmed that they likely have a problem you can solve. You’ve secured the appointment. And then you think to yourself: ‘why not just give them a little preview and see if you can get them even more primed for the first appointment? Who will it hurt anyway?  Won’t it speed up the sales process?’

I have learned that taking this approach is both premature and risky. The further you move away from the established process for cold calling, the more likely you are to get poor results. While it might seem that moving some aspects of the first scheduled meeting into that initial phone call might speed things up, it’s better not to.   In fact, when you get this feeling, that’s when you need to slow things down. Why?

Learn From the Prospect

Keep in mind that although you may feel that you know all you need to know about the prospect, at this point  what you know is just the tip of the iceberg.  There is so much more.  During the first scheduled appointment, you’ll focus on establishing rapport and confirm their communication style. Also, you’ll encourage them to speak in greater detail about how the problem you solve impacts their business. It is unwise to proceed directly into “sell mode” without this information.

Focus on the Prospect, Not Yourself

When you enter “sales mode” in a cold call, you shift the focus from the prospect to yourself and your business. This is counter to the way that we can differentiate ourselves.  To accomplish this differentiation,  we need to keep the focus on the prospect.  Keep these questions in mind:

  • What are they experiencing?
  • How do they feel about it?
  • How is it impacting them?

During the call, your job is to listen and learn in order to capture and acknowledge what they are saying to you.

Establish and Maintain Your Differentiation

When you start selling during that initial phone call, you may not realize it but you will sound just like every other salesperson. Rather than listening to the prospect, and learning from them, you’re busy telling them why they need you. Rather than hearing and understanding how the problem you can solve impacts them, you’re discussing an impact that might not be important to them, and potentially losing an opportunity as a result.  To the prospect this interaction feels more like a hard sell than relationship building.

In my experience, I’ve learned that its best to stay laser focused on the main objective of that initial cold call: confirming that there is a need that can be addressed and making the appointment.  That’s all.

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.

Good Selling!

Self-Care for Cold Callers – Part 2

Cold callers are faced with challenges every day.  In our previous blog (Part 1), we suggested tips that cold callers can use to manage their well-being:  leveraging training to be as prepared as possible, focusing on learning opportunities as they make calls (continuous improvement), and understanding what they can control and what they cannot control.

Other aspects of cold calling success are tied to environmental factors – in particular, with whom and where we work.

In my experience, I’ve learned that it’s most helpful to work in a TEAM environment.  This way you’re surrounded by others who are doing the same thing and facing the same challenges. You can get support from your team, and you can celebrate wins with your team. You can learn from the experiences of other team members, and you can share what you’ve learned as well. You’re looking for a team that loves what they do.  Whether you are working virtually or in an office with the rest of your team members present, leverage the opportunity to share and exchange experiences and ideas.

Another aspect of environment is the type of organization you work for.  Ideally, you should work for an organization that understands and VALUES THE SALES FUNCTION.  I’ve found that organizations that value sales tend to be more successful in their missions.  Clearly, as revenue generators, you have high value to the organization. Your skills are critical.  An organization that values sales will reward achieving the objective and won’t penalize a salesperson for factors that are beyond their scope.  For example, my sales team is responsible for setting appointments and they are rewarded for this accomplishment.  They are not penalized if the appointment needs to be changed or cancelled because we value the fact that they have achieved their objective.

Working in a team environment in an organization that values the sales function will set you up for success and you can anticipate having many more GOOD SELLING days than bad selling days.

And what’s a good selling day?  At the end of a good day you’ve had wonderful conversations, helped build relationships that will lead to potential revenue, learned something in the process either from team members or from your own experiences, and shared what you’ve learned with others to strengthen your team.

Cold calling is our sweet spot.  We LOVE creating the plan, building selling skills, and making cold calls. If you need help creating an environment that is supportive for an effective cold calling team or want to add cold calling to your sales mix, call us at 908.879.2911.

Good Selling!

Self-Care for Cold Callers – Part 1

Recently, I’ve seen a lot of articles about self-care. Why?  Probably because of the pandemic and the additional STRESS we have experienced dealing with a situation that is out of our control. Often these articles are about “self-care for parents,” or “self-care for people balancing work and family.”  Self-care means taking action to preserve your physical and/or mental health so that you can do what you need to do without causing yourself harm.

It occurred to me that nobody ever talks about self-care when it comes to salespeople.  We have highly stressful jobs – and no part of selling is more stressful than cold calling.  A good percentage of the time people are saying “NO” to us. Clearly this is a situation that is ripe for stress. We need to engage in self-care to continue to do it well. 

So, what is self-care for cold calling?

In my experience, self-care for cold calling starts with the basics:

Be PREPARED. Train, practice, review the script, and internalize it.  Honing your skills as a salesperson will strengthen your sales capabilities and increase your confidence. You’ll reduce your stress levels as a result.

Next, think of each conversation you have as a LEARNING opportunity.  Listen to what the prospect is telling you and pay attention to what you are picking up indirectly from the conversation.  Can you draw any conclusions that might lead to a smoother discussion the next time?  If so, then you’ve learned something new!

Another important part of self-care is understanding what you can CONTROL and what you cannot control. For example, in cold calling your mission is deceptively simple: call someone you don’t know with the objective of gaining agreement to move to the next step. What can you control in this situation?  You control what you say, your level of preparation, and the number of dials. But you can’t control other things. You can’t control the number of conversations you have, and you can’t control how the prospect responds.  So, if you get a negative response, you should be aware that factors outside of your control are influencing the decision. 

In my opinion, cold calling is one of the most challenging aspects of selling. And it takes a special person to do it well. Self-care is key to ensuring success.

Stay tuned for Self-Care for Cold Calling – Part 2 for more on how you can keep ‘on point’ in this challenging business!

Cold calling is our specialty – from creating the plan, to building the skills, to making the calls. If you need help creating an environment that is supportive for an effective cold calling team or want to add cold calling to your sales mix, give us a call at 908.879.2911.

Good Selling! 

What Everybody Needs to Know About Cold Calling

I will let you in on a little secret. Do you know what everybody needs to know about cold calling? It’s that CONFIDENCE is a key component of successful Cold Calling! 

What everybody needs to know about cold calling 

I have mentioned before that you can’t bluster your way through a sales call. Prospects can smell the BS a mile away (through a phone, email or text) and that will prematurely end your chances of ever making a real sale. But they can also detect CONFIDENCE and that leads to TRUST, appointments and sales. 

According to Close.com, “93% of the potential success of your cold call is attributed to the tone of your voice during the conversation.” (1) This makes sense – on a cold call, all a prospect has to go by is your voice and delivery. 

In an Inc article on ‘How Customers Decide to Buy’ they stated, “In a cold call, the customer makes the first decision based upon the tone and confidence in the caller’s voice.” (2)  I would venture to say that subsequent decisions won’t be needed if that first decision isn’t positive!

CLICK TO TWEET

But wait, I don’t FEEL confident 

Many salespeople do NOT feel confident when Cold Calling. Especially if they have had some negative experiences or worse yet, they have never been trained. 

Can I just ‘Fake it Till I Make it’? 

No, this is not a good plan. 

OK, so how do I become more confident? 

There are many facets to confidence but we find that being properly prepared instills a level of confidence in our people that you can hear in their tone and delivery. 

Get the proper training 

Too many salespeople are handed a phone and a list of numbers and let loose to make calls. Most of them fail miserably and then blame the tactic (Cold Calling) when in fact it was their lack of training which caused the poor results. 

Click here to read more about our proprietary sales prospecting training programs that prepare YOU to succeed in sales! 

Get a tune-up 

If you have been a salesperson for any length of time, you know that some skills are timeless (how to engage someone in conversation) and others expire (how to send a fax). Ongoing sales training is a vital part of keeping you on the top of your game. Our sales prospecting program Call Center in a Box, provides training as well as mentoring and modeling to not only show you how to do it correctly but to help you internalize the skills, so you exude confidence on YOUR calls. Our Close the Deal program gives you the tools you need to engage confidently with prospects and, as the title says, Close the Deal! 

Check out this post for more on the importance of ongoing sales training. 

Practice, practice, practice 

As is true in almost any area of life, practice will drive improvement.  

Get feedback 

Find someone who will monitor your calls and give you honest feedback. In our programs we review calls, discuss what worked and didn’t work and then provide them with skill training they need. We also do role playing exercises, allowing them to practice and polish their skills, before they need to engage with actual prospects. 

Mindset plays a big role 

In addition to being properly prepared, you need to stay optimistic. This can be a challenge in our industry but it really does improve outcomes.  

Click here to read more about how optimism increases sales. 

Be prepared 

And yes, it takes more than just speaking skills to carry you through a call. Click here for more on how to prepare yourself for Cold Calling success.  

Pick up that phone 

So, make a plan and execute it daily. Prepare yourself and practice. Then pick up that phone and start dialing. 

If you need help with the plan, the skills or the practice, give us a call at 908.879.2911 – we can help YOU build the confidence YOU need to succeed in the new year! 

Good luck and best wishes for a prosperous new year! 

How long should a Cold Call last?

Salespeople often want to know, ‘how long should a Cold Call last?’ Here are some guidelines and advice.

According to a Sales Hacker stat from Jan 2021, “The most striking difference between cold calls that result in a meeting and those that don’t comes down to how long you can keep the prospect on the phone.”

Successful calls, which they defined as resulting in a “held, follow-up meeting”, lasted on average, [5:50] minutes vs [3:14] for unsuccessful calls.

This aligns with my advice which is that Cold Calls should be between 4 – 9 minutes long.

Calls that last less than [4:00] minutes don’t give you enough time to get the information you need and/or reflect the prospect’s lack of interest and attention.

Cold Calls that go beyond [9:00] minutes DO NOT usually result in a meeting. And if you are on for 11, 12 13 minutes, that is usually just wasted time.

It is important to remember that you don’t want to get into a lengthy conversation.  If you are on too long, you will find yourself going into sales mode – which is NOT good!

Cold Calls are for discovery – we are trying to evaluate whether or not they are a good fit and to set an appointment – not sell.

Once you set the appointment, you will have time to research and prepare for that first-time appointment which will be longer. That call should be a 30 – 45 minute conversation.

To get there, make the most of those first 4 – 9 minutes. Have a Cold Call script which is filled with the questions you need answered to determine if this is a qualified prospect. Then be sure to LISTEN to those answers and if appropriate, set that appointment.

The timer is ticking – pick up that phone and get dialing! 

Do YOU need help crafting a more effective Cold Calling Script? Give me a call at 908.879.2911 – we can get you and your team up and running with a tight script that gets YOU more qualified leads!