Cold calling is tough, I get it. Even if your marketing department is generating so-called ‘warm leads,’ the resistance of people who receive an unsolicited call can be fierce. You probably don’t like getting calls from home improvement or alarm companies when you’re at home either, do you?
So what can you do to make your calls sound different? What can you do to give yourself a fighting chance to engage your prospect and perhaps even begin a conversation? And what can you do to prepare for the inevitable objections, stalls and put offs you are going to get?
While I could talk to you for hours about all the techniques and skills you can develop and use to be more successful at cold calling, here are five secrets that will go a long way towards getting you in the door, building quick rapport and qualifying your prospect.
Clearly identify yourself and your company right from the start
Try: ‘Is this John Sanders? Hi, this is Mike Brooks with Industrial Cleaning.’
While this might sound like a no-brainer, you’d be surprised by how many sales reps are still trying to trick people with false openings, or by just giving their first name. Prospects, just like you, know a sales gimmick when they hear one and will blow you off the moment they suspect one.
State the reason for the call quickly and ask a question to engage them
‘Briefly John, we’re offering a special on warehouse cleanings. Have you ever worked with a cleaning company before?’
The shorter the opening you can come up with, the better. The problem with most sales people is that they launch into a full blown pitch at the beginning of the call without engaging the prospect. This turns prospects off, and the sales rep doesn’t learn anything about the prospect’s needs. Asking a quick qualifying question at the beginning gives you information you can leverage, and by asking about their experience with your specific product or service, it sets you up nicely to talk about your offer.
Describe your offer in a sentence or two
‘Great, so you know some of the things a cleaning service can offer. While our service is similar to (the company they mentioned), there are a few important differences…’
Be careful not to pitch too much here. Again, a couple of sentences should be enough to give them basic information like price, features and other important differences. Now, be prepared for the brush off!
Know how to side step the most common objections you get
‘I understand that cost is a concern, and many of the companies we do business with had the same issue. And that’s why we’ve come up with special packages designed for a small business like yours that are both affordable and flexible.’
Your rebuttals need to be scripted out, memorised by your sales team, and delivered in a natural, relaxed tone. They also need to acknowledge what your prospect has just said, and give them a way to justify considering your proposal and get them wanting to know more.
Always insert a trial close in your first call
‘From what you’ve told me, I think you’d be a good fit for what we offer; let’s go ahead and set up an appointment for someone to meet with you to discuss your needs.’
There are a variety of trial closes you can use, including ones for setting an appointment, and all the way up to asking if a prospect would consider taking the next step if he/she likes what they see. These need to be carefully scripted to avoid using worn out sales techniques like, ‘Well, if you like what you see, this is something you’d move forward on, right?’ That kind of language only turns people off and identifies you as a hungry sales person.
A good start
While these five secrets form the backbone of any good opening script, there are other crucial elements needed here, including qualifying questions to identify buying motives, decision-makers and decision process, etc. You can find many of these related articles in my ‘Inside Sales Training Blog’ on my website.
The bottom line is that you must script out your opening call to avoid sounding like everyone else and to give you the best chance of making a connection and furthering the sales process. Using these secrets is a good place to start. •