Cold-calling is dead. In today’s world, cold calling is left to businesses that can no longer differentiate themselves in the marketplace, and therefore need to employ a “spray and pray” mentality.
So you call into a business and say “Hi this is John Smith from Blank Solutions. How are you doing today?”
You’ve shot yourself in the foot. Because your prospect REALLY hears:
- “I’m a salesperson.”
- “I know nothing about you or your business.”
- “I don’t actually care how you’re doing.”
- “I’m about to take your valuable time away from you if you don’t immediately hang up.”
What does the prospect say in response? Depending on the volume of sales calls this person deals with, your spectrum of responses probably ranges from an excuse to get off the phone to “colorful” language and a swift hang up.
From “bad salesperson” to “consultative salesperson”
Don’t cold call; warm call. You must have some sort of base-level knowledge about the business or industry that you chose to call into. It can be a competitor, or someone that used to work there who is now your customer (leverage LinkedIn to “social sell”).
You have ~15 seconds to prove your value. What are you going to say?
15 seconds is barely enough time to sound competent, let alone close a deal. So stop trying to close a deal on the initial “warm call” and instead try to get another 15 seconds. As the adage goes, you “eat an elephant one bite at a time” you should mirror your “warm call” in a similar manner. Also, keep in mind they didn’t solicit information on your business, so you must be armed with a referral AND a compelling reason to do business. In that 15 seconds, you need to answer their question of, “What’s in it for me?”
Get another 15 seconds with this example.
So, the prospect answers and you say:
“Hi this is John Smith. You and I have not yet connected, but I was referred to you by Mandy Brown. She said that you all have a friendly agreement not to solicit employees from one another’s team. I can respect that. I am calling you today to see if I can help you the same way I helped Mandy, which is to say, help facilitate introductions to top producers in the staffing arena. Our people are properly vetted, come with solicited references from folks who are also top producers in the business and have a deep network of relationships with your customer base so they can hit the ground running for you.”
This time, your prospect hears:
- “You don’t know me, but someone you know (and hopefully trust) does.”
- “I understand some of the challenges your business is currently facing.”
- “I have experience” -- nothing screams “right out of college sales rep” more than the “How Are You Doing?” cold call question.
Once you admitted not having a meaningful dialogue yet; you showed that you understand their business by referencing (in this example) a competitor of theirs; and that you get their challenges in attracting and retaining top talent, you have the floor. But before you utter another word, you PAUSE……. It can take a few seconds, just don’t speak…
Typically the silence gets the best of them and you get this response, “OK….”
Guess what? You just got 15 more seconds.
At this point, you can deliver your value proposition. Use hard facts, hard numbers, and points that will ultimately solve your prospect’s problems. A weak value proposition will cast doubt in the prospect’s mind. It must be delivered with authority and that you know what the hell you’re talking about. STILL, you’re not trying to close a deal, you’re just fighting for that next 15 seconds.
At this point, your prospect will either give you the time of day, or give you an objection.
One of the cardinal rules of sales is that an objection is merely a request for more information. At this point, you’ve gotten your prospect to see you as more than a salesperson and give you some of their time. An objection gives you the opportunity to resolve their concerns and re-establish your value. The formula to overcome objections is feel, felt, found.
- Feel – Feel and understand where the prospect is coming from. Acknowledge their concerns.
- Felt – Explain how others that you have sold to felt the same way until they started working with you.
- Found – Use tangible results to illustrate the benefit which others found after working with you.
So yes, cold calling is dead. Having no information about your prospect before calling is foolish. But, if you take a consultative sales approach, you’ll find your luck changing on the next call.