A Better Approach to Cold Calling

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!

How to Ask for a Referral

Who would you be more likely to buy from, someone who called you, out of the blue, or someone recommended by a friend or colleague?

Study after study have proven that referrals and recommendations are the BEST source of sales prospects. This post will show you why, when and most importantly HOW to ask for a referral.

First, let’s look at WHY we should ask for a referral.

Trust

Nielsen study on trust found that “84% of buyers are mostly influenced by recommendations from friends and family”. And trust is KEY to building relationships that convert to sales.

When you are working from a referral, they already trust you. This is a huge benefit, saving you time and, as long as you remain trustworthy, can actually speed up the relationship building and sales process.

Selectivity 

Along the same lines, an IDC study found that “almost 75% of executives prefer to work with salespeople who’ve been referred to them”. Executives are busy, being a referral saves them the time of vetting you. Get a referral.

Profit

Wharton School of Business study found that “Customers won through referrals are about 24% more profitable than other customers”. In addition to being easier to start a relationship with, once they are customers, they are less likely to leave.

Clearly, referrals are a potent source of quality leads.

Leaving money on the table 

But while 91% of customers say they’d give referrals, only 11% of salespeople ask for referrals!

Why don’t salespeople ask for referrals? These seem to be the top excuses – along with suggestions on how to overcome them:

  • “They won’t know anyone who needs my services” – you call prospects because they fit some basic criteria. It is a very good bet that they know others with the same criteria, or if they can’t use you, they may know someone who is an even better fit!
  • “It will make me look needy or desperate” – no, it will make you look like a ‘professional’. You aren’t begging for scraps; you are asking for an introduction. Executives know how important networking is – if you have impressed them with your knowledge and listening skills, they will be more willing to make a connection.
  • “I have enough leads” – if this were true, you probably wouldn’t be reading article this so, go work on getting referrals to get more, and higher quality, leads.
  • “They would refer me if they knew anyone who needed my services” – no, they probably have a dozen other things on their to do lists and helping you get leads is probably not one of them – BUT, if you ask, they may take the time to do it, so definitely try!
  • “I forgot” – make it a part of your scripting, a closing step to your pitch so it is something you do automatically. It is not an ‘afterthought’ but a final step in your sales outreach process.

HOW to Ask for a Referral

  • Happy Clients: Whenever you receive a glowing call, email or words of praise, ask them, “is there anyone else you know who might be interested in our services?”
  • New Prospects: Even if they don’t convert right then, ask them, “is there anyone else you know who might be interested in our services?” or “I know that we are not a good fit for your company right now, but is there anyone you know or work with who might be a better fit?”
  • At the end of the buying process: As a last touch point, make sure you ask for a referral! This can happen at a last meeting or as part of a follow-up email.
  • Bonus Points: At the BEGINNING of the buying process, at your kick off meeting, mention that you will, in a few weeks, be circling back to see if they know of anyone who might also be a good fit for your services. This gives them a quick heads up that you will be asking, makes asking a bit easier, as they expect it and gets a small ‘buy-in’ that that is part of the process. It also makes you look like a consummate sales PRO!

Salespeople who actively seek out and follow-up on referrals earn 4 to 5 times more than those who do not – make sure that YOU are asking for them!

Do you and YOUR sales team need more tips on how to be more effective? Our ‘Call Center in a Box’ program provides the training, management and monitoring your team needs to improve the quality of their interactions, the quality and quantity of leads and their SALES. Give me a call at 908-879-1322 or click here to set up a one-on-one call with me https://calendly.com/nancy-calabrese/one-on-one 

Click here more Cold Calling Tips and Advice

Are YOU Ready for 2021?

Are YOU ready for 2021? As we look forward to the start of a new year, here are some stats to think about and suggestions to help you ROCK the coming year! 

Good odds 

The RAIN Group, an award-winning sales training company, found that ‘82% of buyers say they have accepted meetings with salespeople after a series of contacts beginning with sales cold calls’. I know it can feel like you hear a lot of no’s when making cold calls but this stat underscores that there ARE a lot of ‘yeses’ out there. Make sure you are doing everything you can to get them! 

What should you be doing? 

Here are some posts with tips on what you should be doing to up YOUR odds of getting a ‘yes’: 

  1. Envision Your Success 
  2. Make sure you are working from CLEAN, up to date, Data 
  3. Don’t give up 
  4. Reach for the Truth 
  5. Focus on QUALITY over QUANTITY
  6. Build an “A” Team 
  7. Plus more on how to build an effective team
  8. And as always, LISTEN CAREFULLY!

Don’t Dread it, just DO it! 

A recent survey of sales agents found that 63% of sales representatives say that cold calls are the worst part of their job.  I think that a LOT of this has to do with people not having a clue as to what they are doing! Too often, salespeople are given a phone and a list of numbers and sent on their way.  

That is a recipe for disaster – I can pretty much assure you of poor-quality results with that approach. And it is demoralizing for your salespeople as well.  

Salespeople need a SYSTEM, TRAINING, MONITORING and MANAGEMENT to effectively set qualified appointments and close sales.  

At One of a Kind Sales, we have seen how successful sales teams can be when they have a comprehensive approach to sales. Our unique sales program, called ‘Conversational Selling’, is a time proven system, coupled with ongoing training, monitoring and management that prepares salespeople to successfully and consistently, deliver qualified leads and appointments.  

Click here to learn about how we can train YOUR Inside Sales Team to use this successful technique. 

Or here to see how OUR TEAM can make Cold Calls and set qualified appointments for YOU! 

Persistence Pays! 

According to a Marketing Wisdom stat, almost half (44%) of sales reps said they stopped with sales follow up after receiving a negative response to a first call. REALLY?!? If you are going to give up that quickly, clearly sales is NOT the job for you! 

That same group found that ‘after reaching a prospect, salespersons need to make an average of five successful follow-up calls to close a deal.’  This is not a ‘one and done’ kind of business and is why you need a system and training to support you.  

Sales is a game of endurance – play the long game or don’t play at all. 

Are you LISTENING? 

TOPO, a sales research and advisory firm, found that 87% of prospects said that salespeople didn’t understand their needs. Well, if you are asking pointed questions and really listening to their replies, this should NOT be the case!  

We provide our teams with scripts specifically designed to elicit the responses we need to fully understand the prospects’ needs. As you can see from the stat, this alone sets us head and shoulders above the competition!  

If you your team isn’t getting the info they need to make real connections, give us a call – we can help! 

OK – so are YOU ready for 2021?  

Do your preparation and give us a call if you need help – we want to see you ROCK the coming year! 

Notes: Marketing Wizdom  RAIN Group  TOPO 

A Step by Step Guide to Sales Prospecting Success – Step 4 – The Close

“Always Be Closing” is a popular sales phrase that you have probably heard. It is often touted as the “ABC’s of Sales”. But this phrase is often misunderstood as being all about the spurring on and encouraging the salesperson to go in for the kill – the close – and then move on to the next one.  

If you have learned anything from this series, I hope it is that sales is NOT about you, the salesperson, but it is all about THEM, the prospect. 

That said, I do believe that you always need to be working towards the close. Let me explain what I mean. 

Be clear about the process 

Closing becomes easier if you have done your work all along the way. Signing the contract should be the culmination and confirmation of all the discussions you have had. The contract should hold no surprises and is just a formality. They should be ‘buying-in’ all along. The Close is just the logical next step in the Sales process.

Is it a fit? 

Early on, you need to pre-qualify the prospect. Spending time and money with a prospect who cannot afford your product or services is time and money wasted. Discuss and get buy-in on the budget before investing time and resources.  

Tie-downs 

Periodically use phrases like, ‘wouldn’t you agree?’ and ‘did I get that right? to make sure you are on the same page and to anchor all of you in your new, advanced location as you move along in the sales process. 

Are all the Decision Makers present? 

Spending your time selling to someone who is not in a position to actually close the deal is a huge mistake. Make sure you understand, up front, who will be the one to authorize the sale and be sure that they are in on the discussions. Don’t waste your time with gatekeepers or anyone less than the decision maker(s).   

Check for conflicts 

Periodically ask to see what problems or obstacles your prospects may see with the proposed plan. It is important to identify and address these before moving forward.  

Whenever a new decision maker enters the mix, check with them as well. Request and respect their point of view.

Knowledge = Power 

You need to glean as much knowledge as you can from your prospect and the company. You need knowledge of their needs, their pain points, their past experience and most importantly, their expectations. Then you need to use that knowledge to craft your pitch and sell your solution. 

Trial closes 

We train our salespeople to incorporate ‘trial closes’ into their sales process. All along the way, they are making small ‘closes’ which make the final close much easier. Think of it as a way to ‘take the temperature’ of the room and confirm that you are on the right track. 

What would you like to see happen next? OR ‘What should next steps look like? 

I like to use one of these phrases when I wrap up my presentations. It allows THEM to bring up and request that I send a contract. This way, rather than my pushing it on them, they have requested it. This is a subtle but important difference. 

Contracts 

I send contracts the afternoon before our next meeting. This allows them enough time to review it, but it isn’t available for extensive examination. Then we go over it together, at the meeting, and get it signed.  

Since you are aware of their needs and pain points, it makes it easy to show how your solution will address them. And your contract should be in alignment with their expectations since you will have clarified these previously. There really should not be any surprises at this point. 

Legal review 

Yes, legal reviews can take time and slow down your close but if you have a well-designed solution that underscores and addresses their pain points, your prospect should be able to successfully shepherd the contract through the process.  

This is just the beginning! 

Try to identify and address any ‘buyer’s remorse’ before it has time to take root. The close is not the end but the beginning, of the relationship! 

Pro tip 

A real pro will mention, at the close, ‘Oh, and by the way – to prepare you – I will come to you in about 3 months to ask you for references. We are really looking forward to working with you and would love to work with more clients like you!’.  

They may not remember you saying this, but it sets you up for a successful conversation when you make that request for references.

Do you and your team need help to successfully close more business? Give us a call at 908-879-2911 Or click here to use my Calendly link to arrange a time to speak.  

Missed any previous posts in this Step by Step Guide to Sales Prospecting Success series?

Step 1 – The Cold Call

Step 2 – The First Meeting

Step 3 – Objections – Part 1

Step 3 – Objections – Part 2

Keep Dialing – people ARE still picking up the phone and checking messages

A colleague recently shared some interesting stats related to phone usage by Fortune 1000 and S&P 500 companies during the Covid-19 pandemic: 

  • 93% kept their corporate phone number on their website.
  • 94.1% have increased calling in to check voicemail from three times per day to nine. 
  • Of the approximately 10 million employees, 83.2% have added a cell phone to their email signature. 
  • Of the approximately 10 million employees, 41% have reached out to clients and vendors with an update about using cell numbers. 
  • Of the 8.2 million employees that had company cell phones, 38% are using them exclusively. 
  • Of the 10 million employees, 89.1% have their corporate phone calls forwarded. 

These stats confirm that workers are still using the phone as a business tool and checking their phone messages. Do not let the pandemic related shift to remote working keep you from making prospecting calls! 

Whether you have a company phone number with an extension, a direct dial or a cell number, keep dialing. The phone is still an effective way to reach decision makers, whether they are in their offices or working remotely. 

2020 Sales Prospecting Planning Begins NOW!

Back in 2015, there was a lot of noise, much of it negative, around a comment made online that “You have the same number of hours in each day as Beyoncé”. The implication was, Beyoncé seems to be able to run the world with HER 24 hours and so should you! The gist of the negative narrative was, “Well, yes, but I don’t have a personal trainer, or household staff or a ton of money”.  

I mention this because, as we plan for 2020 – and Yes, you SHOULD be planning for 2020! – we all DO have only 24 hours in a day and we need to be sure that we are making the most of each one of them. Here are some tips on how to make the most of YOUR Sales Prospecting hours in 2020. 

First, let’s do the math: 

At 6 – 7 hrs of Sales Prospecting a day (most of us work longer days, you can increase it as needed) X 5 days a week (again, in an ideal world we aren’t all cranking on weekends) = 30 – 35 hrs a week X 50 weeks (hopefully you are taking SOME time off!) which leaves you with 1500 – 1750 hours a year of Sales Prospecting time.  

Here are some tips for making the most of YOUR Sales Prospecting hours: 

  • Commit to making calls EVERY DAY. Block out that time on your calendar and USE it – every day! Do NOT use this time to complete unrelated tasks. 
  • If your job entails more than calls, get THOSE activities on the calendar as well. Block out the live networking events, allocate time for digital networking on LinkedIn and other relevant platforms, plan the days when you will be knocking on doors and making presentations. By consciously ‘chunking’ out your days there will be less down time spent figuring out what you will do and when, making your Sales Prospecting hours more productive. 
  • Use a CRM specifically DESIGNED for outbound calling and lead generation, make sure you know how to use it properly and remember to USE it for ALL your Sales Prospecting.  
  • Be sure that you are working from a QUALIFIED LEAD list 
  • Develop, memorize and internalize a script with a compelling message. Practice it until you are comfortable and confident in your delivery. 
  • Have your toolbox filled with documents and cheat sheets so you are prepared to address and overcome objections. 
  • Have a plan. Work the plan. Commit to success! 

Here are tasks that WASTE Prospector’s time – AVOID these: 

  • Using an OUTDATED or OLD Call list is a HUGE WASTE of time! 
  • Answering email and/or engaging on Social Media during your dedicated Sales Prospecting Hours is a WASTE of valuable time. 
  • Extensive research is a waste of time. We have a 1 x 1 rule’ – spend a maximum of one-minute researching LinkedIn and the Prospect’s website before making the call. You need to know who you are speaking with and the industry they are in – nothing more. 
  • Don’t be distracted by colleagues during your Sales Prospecting time UNLESS it is related to making a sale! 
  • Spending time on the phone with influencers is unnecessary – focus directly on the decision makers! 

All of us will have the same number of Sales Prospecting hours in 2020. Many will waste their time on pointless or misdirected tasks. Some will work longer days and weeks to try to accomplish more. And some will work SMARTER, focusing on what matters most. How will YOU use YOUR Sales Prospecting time in 2020?  

If you need help getting YOUR Sales Prospecting team up to speed, give us a call – we train, manage and monitor YOUR inside sales team to ensure real results! Click HERE to learn more.