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Cold calling is one of the more difficult practices in sales. I always prefer to build a referral network and receive warm leads. When you are new or do not have the infrastructure in place to build a network, you need to start somewhere. Cold Calling is a logical option. This is not just in reference to making a sale, however. If you do not have a solid base of contacts to build a referral network, you will probably need to do some cold calling in to build that pipeline, as well as a list of sales prospects.
I like a multifaceted approach to building a sales pipeline and referral network. Partly by joining other networking groups, social media sites, friends, family, and finally, filling in the gaps with cold calling until you have a solid pipeline in place to funnel you business and referral partners. In this post, I’m going to focus on the cold calling piece of the equation here. Luckily, there are strategies for cold calling, you do not have to go into it blindly.
Before I begin cold calling I like to build a list of potential prospects. I usually do a little research on Manta or Linked In, try to find the decision makers name, what industry they are in, and any other points of common ground before I go out and call on them. I want a basic level understanding of what I’m getting into instead of stumbling around and guessing. I’m a sniper rifle, not a bomb. I do not just haphazardly approach random businesses and hope for the best. Evenings and weekends are a great time to build this list.
Be yourself, don’t act like a robot with a canned speech.
I’ve always thought scripted sales pitches were cheesy and lock you into something that might not fit the situation you are in. I prefer to have a broad outline and build rapport with a customer or potential referral partner. Ask questions, mirror the prospects emotional level and tone of conversation, use the information you collected in your list building to use as common ground. If you are talking to someone who is low keyed or reserved and your speaking to them like you’re shot out of a cannon, The presentation may overwhelm them. If they’re excited and you mumble your way through through the presentation, standing there like a deer in head lights, the prospect is going to have a difficult time keeping engaged with you.
On of the best approaches is to just be yourself. Don’t try to be Johnny Slick. People are inoculated to pitches. If they think you are trying to sell them something, their walls go up. If you go into a call with a scripted presentation and it misses, you have to do a bunch of extra work to get them engaged, usually by backtracking and changing your tone. At this point, the customer is going to be wary. Being yourself and having a natural conversation from the start will help you appear trustworthy and the decision to purchase from you or partner with you is much easier for the prospect.
Before you approach the prospect to present your offer, be sure to have the correct mindset. Do not be anxious or desperate. Be calm, confident and rational. In reality it is just an opportunity to have a conversation, if it doesn’t work out like you hoped, oh well it is not a judgement on you, and has no bearing on the future, simply move on.
So now you’ve done your homework, built a prospect list, have your head in the right place, its time to make the approach. There are a lot of ways to approach a customer. I recently read an article with a solid example of how to approach a cold prospect.
Here is an excerpt from the article I read on making a cold call (view full article here):
“Hi my name’s Johnson. Maybe you can help me out for a moment?”
Introduce yourself. That’s common sense. Then you’re asking help from them. This is true; even if you want to make a sale, you’re asking them for help because you want to see whether what you offer is something that’s a good fit for their problems.
The Problem Statement
This turns the whole idea of sales on its head. Where you would usually talk about your company, products (or yourself) and how awesome it all is, here you would focus on their problems. This takes time to craft and articulate in a way that truly focuses on their issues at hand.
It’s Your Call
When you’re doing the calling, you’re doing the approaching. Aside from the fact that the person who initiates the chase has less leverage in the relationship, it’s a fact that you can’t force or persuade anyone to do anything against their will.
So what do you do instead? You give them control. Not like you had it in the first place anyway. This is another unorthodox way of going about cold-calling, but it’s in fact the truth about how human nature works. If your problem statement has been focused enough and they feel like it’s worth continuing the conversation, they’ll continue it with you. If there’s not a good fit, then at least you can part with your dignity in tact.
When it’s their call, you also don’t come across as desperate or needy, which are real deal killers. Cold calling and making deals without neediness is a real skill and it takes a different psychological mindset to start a conversation but remove the desperation out of the equation.
When you allow yourself to be yourself, suddenly being brave isn’t so difficult. You’re asking for help because that’s literally the truth. You’re focusing your attention in their world and you’re letting them control the direction of the phone call. Do this and cold calling won’t seem so bad.
Kee, Johnan. “How To Find The Courage To Cold Call.” . Linked In, 30 June 2014. Web. 1 July 2014. <https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140630220305-42858647-how-to-find-the-courage-to-cold-call?trk=tod-home-art-list-small_2>.
You are going to be nervous and make mistakes at first. It is totally normal. What really matters is that you learn from the experience and keep executing your daily behaviors. Remember once you have built a solid network of referral sources your reliance on cold calling drops and you’ll only do it to back fill your pipeline or if you get good at it, do it for fun. It will never be your main source of prospects, if it is, you’re making your job a lot tougher. Be efficient, work smart, execute behaviors that grow your business and improve your skill set every day.
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