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.
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.
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.
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!
They say that optimists see the glass as half full. I say that optimists see a full sales pipeline!
Let me explain.
Which would you rather spend time with – a person who is grumpy and glum or a positive, happy person? I would take the positive one every time! And when making cold calls, that positive attitude can be the difference between keeping a prospect on the phone until they set an appointment and having them hang up.
Now don’t get me wrong, hang ups happen, and sometimes, if they weren’t a good fit, that works in your favor – saving you time and effort. But if you want to keep people on the phone long enough to see if they ARE a good fit, a positive outlook is key.
Put on those ‘Rose Colored Glasses’.
Optimism is defined as “A tendency to expect the best possible outcome or dwell on the most hopeful aspects of a situation.”
In a business where so much of your day can be determined by the actions of others, it is great to know that this is something you can drive. What you ‘expect’ and what you ‘dwell on’ are both within YOUR control.
Control those and you gain more control over your results.
Data supports the claim.
Studies show that optimists outsell pessimists, in some cases by many times over! Here is an example of the results from a study done by Dr Martin Seligman, an expert in ‘positive psychology’, from just two industries:
Optimistic sales agents outsell pessimists by 38 percent, and extremely optimistic sales agents outsell pessimists by 88 percent.
Optimistic sales agents outsell pessimists by 33 percent, and extremely optimistic sales agents outsell pessimists by a whopping 319 percent.
This doesn’t mean that you have to be unrealistically optimistic. You need to be able to acknowledge challenges and obstacles. I am suggesting that you confidently address them and move one. That you focus on the silver lining rather than the clouds. Don’t dwell on the hang-ups or the unanswered calls, rather, focus on the person you are going to speak with next. Be present and enjoy meeting them. Learn about their needs and see how you can help!
And yes, you can take this too far. Being blindly optimistic can be detrimental to your sales goals. Sitting at your desk, or worse yet, on a distant beach, imagining that prospects will start calling YOU probably won’t fill your pipeline.
But a good dose of optimism WILL boost your confidence, your outlook and your bottom line!
For more on this see our post Control What You Can in Sales and follow me on LinkedIn and Twitter for daily sales tips, advice and periodic boosts of optimism!
How much should you be talking on a Sales call? I recently came across a post from SalesHacker, which suggested that “the best talk-to-listen ratio is 55%:45%.”
They went on to explain, “as a salesperson, you’re taught to do more listening than talking. This is true in some stages of the sales process, but not in a cold call. Gong.io says the most successful talk-to-listen ratio is 55% : 45%, with agents talking more than the prospect. A good rule of thumb is to prepare to carry the majority of the conversation and calibrate yourself to keep your talk level at just over half of the potential customer’s.”
We recommend a 70/30 ratio with the sales person doing only 30% of talking.
A Cold Call is a DISCOVERY call – the only way you will discover if it is worth scheduling an appointment with the prospect is if you let THEM do the talking!
Your job, when Cold Calling, is to engage the prospect in a conversation and ask key, probing questions to determine if they are a good fit for your product or services. To do that, you need to LISTEN more than talk.
Yes, you need to be prepared with questions but you need to be sure to leave time and room on the call to HEAR the answers.
How much should YOU be talking on a Sales call?
Here are some more posts and podcasts on this topic:
Active Listening: It is more than just hearing what your prospect is saying
Prepare for Cold Calling Success
My podcast with Laurel Bernstein on ‘How Active Listening Can Help You Sell More Effectively’
Need help mastering the art of Listening? Give us a call! Our time proven sales system will show you what to say, how and when to say it and how to really listen.
Contact me at 908.879.2911 or email@example.com to learn more and to get started TODAY!