Summer Cold Callers’ Jumpstart

This time of year, when I tell people I’m a cold calling expert, they often comment, ‘well this must be a tough season for you and your team because it’s summer.’  This belief that everyone is on vacation and decisions are not being made is a common misperception.

In fact, our experience is quite the opposite.  Here are some tips to make sure that you can use to jumpstart your summer cold calling activity and increase the likelihood of success.

  1. Know your target: Understanding your target means that you’ll know what motivates them to be interested in your offering.
  2. Know who the decision makers are: The decision maker is the one person you need for the appointment when you are cold calling.
  3. Develop and use a good script. Having a script allows you to think about and internalize your approach to the call in advance and anticipate different paths of discussion that might occur.
  4. Understand how your solution solves their problem. You’ll need to be able to recognize when a prospect is telling you something that indicates they are a qualified lead.
  5. Use Active listening. Make sure you’re not doing most of the talking. Allow the prospect to tell you about themselves and their business. This is when we learn what the opportunity really is.
  6. Pivot for the appointment. Once you’ve confirmed that there is a need, go for the appointment. Remember that a typical cold call is generally no more than 4 to 9 minutes. Making the appointment with a qualified lead is your objective. Leave deeper probes will be made during the first 30-minute appointment

Yes, these steps look like the basics…. and in fact, they are the tried-and-true core of cold calling best practices.  There’s a reason why they are best practices – it’s because they work no matter the time of year.

If you need help implementing best practices as an individual salesperson or with an inside sales team you manage, reach out to us.  We LOVE cold calling.  Contact us at 908-879-2911.

Selling Preparedness Equals Selling Success

Memorial Day is often thought of as the official start of summer – and depending on where you live, it’s also the official start of hurricane season. If you live in one of these hurricane-prone areas, this is the time of year that officials start reminding residents about hurricane preparedness. You need to plan in advance for what you’ll do when a hurricane strikes because not having a plan can put your life at risk.

This focus on preparation always reminds me of my business, One of a Kind Sales. Preparation is a critical success factor in sales. And that’s never more apparent than when you are making cold calls to set up appointments.

Anticipate the ‘Pain Point’

Here’s a cold calling sales preparation tip for you. Make sure you understand what factor motivates your prospect to be interested in your solution and ensure that you have a plan for how to engage in a discussion about it. Often this motivating factor is referred to as a ‘pain point.’  Prospects will express it as a source of frustration, or dissatisfaction. As cold callers we are looking for this as a point of qualification that the prospect could be a good candidate for our solution. As part of your sales preparation, you should anticipate several ‘pain points’ your prospects could have that they would like to resolve. Your plan should involve becoming conversant in these areas so that you are able to engage your prospect.

Start with a Script

I’ve personally found that it’s best to start with a script. When I mention ‘creating a script,’ it’s not so you can learn to recite the script word for word, but so that you can begin to internalize the messaging. When it comes to eliciting ‘pain points’, writing out your prompts and your responses in a script format helps to organize your thoughts. Reviewing the script helps make the responses second nature to you. This improves your ability to have a discussion with your prospect. Working this way, you don’t have to “wing it” based on what the prospect says to you. You’ve prepared by anticipating several possible responses and you are truly ready to engage.

Go for the Appointment

Once you’ve confirmed that the prospect is experiencing a discomfort, frustration, or ‘pain’ that you’re your solution addresses, you’ve qualified the prospect. Your next step is to set up the initial appointment.

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!

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!