Cold calling – two words that sales people usually dread. You know the scenario,sales are behind target and sales prospecting is always the answer. Your sales manager calls you and the rest of the sales team in for the weekly meeting which, funnily enough, always seems to be about how do we generate more leads.
Sales manager: ‘Folks, we are behind target! We need to hit the phones and get sales prospecting.’
You: ‘Sure, but I’ve used up all my marketing qualified leads. Is it back to trawling through LinkedIn again?’
Boss: ‘LinkedIn, phone directory… just get on the phones!’ *sounding like he doesn’t know where to start*.
Sound familiar? But one way or another, these types of conversations are happening in sales organizations all over the globe. So let me bring you to sales paradise island – a sales person’s utopia, a world where every prospect would be expecting your call and know exactly why you were calling. The conversation would be flowing with witty banter exchanged back and forth. The genuine interest they’ve been showing in your product or service throughout the call would inevitably end in a sale. Easy! Right?
Sorry but time to wake up as this is not the reality which sales people face. As you know, a lot of time and energy goes into simply compiling a list of prospects to call. But once they answer, sellers are often affected by the dreaded ‘why are you calling me today?‘ syndrome. Cold calling with nothing more than a name and number leaves the sales person having to ‘wing it’ and hope they get lucky.
Cold calling is an essential component in making that pipeline grow, so it is something that sellers cannot avoid. If only there was a way to make the whole process of cold calling a lot easier. Well maybe there is!
Let me explain how cold calling can suddenly become a lot easier with lead generation tools/software combined with my few tips on how to approach each phone call.
Continuous Quality Leads with Automated Lead Generation Software
Before you can start making those calls, you need a list of people to call. A list of relevant prospects. A recent survey revealed that over 35% of companies claimed that they lacked access to quality prospects. Almost 50% said they wanted the number of sale leads to increase. Imagine coming in to your office on your sales prospecting days to find a verified list of quality prospects, based on relevant profiles, with contact information sitting on your desk – Sound like that utopia that exists only in your head? Think again.
Automated lead generation services do the hard work for you by consistently providing you with your most relevant and influential leads with detailed information. Automated lead generation significantly reduces the time you spend simply identifying prospects because this technology produces a continuous supply of custom profiles and contact information based on social data. All the data you need to convert leads. Faster. This way, your prospects are simply an email or phone call away, which is also supplied to you!
Prospecting is essential to the sales process. You may have the skills to sell ‘ice to an Eskimo’ but if you are spending all of your time simply looking for prospects, and not actually interacting with them, what is the point? As soon as you can speed up the identification of prospects and reach the point where you are actually talking to buyers, who are genuinely interested in your services, every call becomes a lot easier.
So automated lead generation software provides you with a continuous list of who to call. But what next? What do I say? I don’t want to be a deer in the headlights. I can’t take much more rejection!
Information gives you Confidence
If you are to remember one key thing before cold calling, remember this – information gives you confidence. Before engaging with each new prospect, learn more about them and go in feeling as prepared as possible.
Learn about the company they work for. Know exactly why your product or service would be of interest to them. Learn some of their interests. Perhaps you two have something in common. Incorporating these into your initial small talk can help your prospect feel more at ease and make you seem more relateble and human. Your lead generation service provides you with a list of all their social media accounts so you can easily learn a little more about them on a personal level as well as professional.
Even the most successful salespeople don’t necessarily like cold calls, but the difference between them and unsuccessful sellers is that they have realized the importance of confidence. If you are always polite and exude confidence in what you are doing, the client is more likely to gain confidence in your company. Even if the call doesn’t end in a sale or arranging a face-to-face meeting, you know that it is ok because you did everything you possibly could. You approached that individual, armed with information, strategy, and the confidence that comes from it.
The traditional presentation-style of cold calling has proven to have a negative effect because it creates sales pressure and treats buyers like simply a number on a list. Creating a natural conversation between two people is the only way to keep them engaged and interested. A genuine approach is sure to put your potential customer at ease from the start. While this person may be the 30th phone call you have made today, it is important to remember that the person on the other line is just that – A person! Be polite, genuine, and speak using easy-to-understand terms.
If you don’t know something, be honest and admit that you don’t. You have done your preparation on who your prospect is and what you are calling about, but you are always going to encounter questions that you may not have to answer to. Reply with something like, ‘I’m not quite sure about that Ms Roberts, but I will ask my manager and have an answer for you when I see you next’. There’s no shame in not having all of the answers, and frankly, your prospects are sure to appreciate your honesty and willingness to go out of your way to answer their questions. Realizing that it is alright to not have all the answers can remove a lot of the anxiety attached to cold calling. It also gives you extra confidence in your approach.
What Problem Can You Solve for Them?
Once the person at the other end of the call is starting to feel at ease, you must then clearly explain how your company can solve a problem which this buyer/customer is facing on why you have selected them to call. Think about it, how would you react if somebody truly understood what you were struggling with and had ideas to solve it? If your prospect feels that you really do understand their particular issues, then they are more open to hearing your solutions giving you the opportunity to see if you both are a good match.
Cold calls based on genuine helpfulness and understanding your prospect and their needs can turn a one-way pitch into a two-way dialogue.
In a survey, hundreds of decision makers responsible for buying business services and products were asked:
“If a salesperson calls you and leaves a message for you, what kind of message will motivate you to return the call?”
Results showed that over 40% of respondents wanted cold callers to ‘clearly explain how their product/service would benefit my business.’
See yourself as the hero that wants to rescue each prospect from their business problems, not the bothersome sales person only concerned about closing deals. This will make cold calling easier.
Mention a Name or Referral
As well as being confident and understanding your leads issues, buyers are more open to listening if they hear that a peer of theirs referred them or is using your product. Almost 40% of buyers claim this, to be more specific. But how does one get a referral in the first place? Here are two ways:
1) Join a number of networking groups in which you can share leads and contacts with other like-minded people. Groups like Business Network International (BNI), Professional Referral Organization (PRO), and a variety of others that exist for this very purpose.
2) Discover someone in LinkedIn with whom you have a mutual connection to the prospect you are calling, or at least can introduce you.
I hope you have realized that cold calling doesn’t have to be as big a barrier as you think it is. Investing in Lead generation tools/software, knowing your potential customer and understanding their problems all combine to give you that confidence boost and creates the best possible outcome for every cold call you make.