A simple way to ensure business profitability and healthy cash flow is to focus on what drives both. What drives revenue needs to be understood. How saleable is the product or service and what’s the market? What marketing is working and how much is it costing to acquire a customer? Is it profitable revenue? How [...]
Where Am I Going Wrong With Cold Calling?
Sales today are about building rapport and engaging your customer. You can still do this in a cold call, you just need the strategies to make these calls successful in your pursuit for new business.
Business Owner: "Hello, I'm calling from Natalie's web design… I was just wondering, do you have a website?"
Potential Customer: "Yes, do you want the web address?"
Business Owner: "Um…no, thank you. Bye!"
The above cold calling experience was shared by a friend of mine lately between giggles, grimaces, and a few words which I won't share here now. I'm sure you identify with Marie's* feelings as she ended that call, and you can understand why it took her a week to get back the courage to pick up the phone again. To be honest, I'm not sure I would have been as gutsy when I first started cold calling!
We know Marie was attempting to determine whether the person and business qualified for her web design service. However, like most of us, when faced with the prospect of 'cold calling', her own fears and the many poor examples she receives daily (who would have thought printer toner is such a lucrative industry!) replayed in her mind. With no set structure this usually friendly, confident and by all accounts extremely competent woman clammed up. What is it with the term 'cold calling' that just turns us... well... cold?
I would love to at least highlight two of the most common misconceptions I come across daily. Firstly…
You do not need to be or pretend to be the sterotypical sales person… you don't need the 'gift of the gab', be able to 'sell ice to the Eskimos' or be a 'top closer' to be successful at cold calls. But you do need to be giving. Give people a reason to speak with you, give them something to remember, give them some of your personality and 'sparkly bits'.
Neither do you need to be in telesales... You don't need to have a script for every conceivable scenario, own a well thumbed copy of '101 top tips for getting past gatekeepers' or have a skin reinforced with steel. But you do need to understand that the telephone is the face of your business. In today's world, with mobiles, blackberries and teleconferences, owners must rely on the telephone to be successful in their business.
Have some clear USPs (unique selling propositions) and use them to confidently articulate the benefits and feelings your product or service delivers. Set out four or five structured questions to help determine whether the person on the phone qualifies to be your customer. (For example; would it help for you to know if they are currently using a competitor's product? If they are familiar with your business? Whether they currently have a need or desire for what you offer?)
Make your customer feel GREAT!!
G- Give them your name and business, and then ask for theirs. This softens the question and it becomes a reflex for the customer to answer (try it today!). It also helps develop conversation. "Hello my name is Natalie from the National Sales Academy, and you are... ?"
R- Rapport. This is crucial. Always establish rapport FIRST. It's true that people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. Focus on making a friend first and an appointment or new client second. My whole perception of 'cold calling' changed when I followed this strategy... and so did the results I was getting!
To help fast-track the rapport building process, it helps to match the caller's communication style; are they direct, influencing, steady, or concise? Do they utilise a lot of inflection in their speech or do they tend toward the monotone? Do they speak fast or slowly? People like people similar to themselves. Think about your favourite clients to deal with, or the people you are drawn to at networking events - you will find more often than not you will have at least a few similar traits.
E- Empathy. Put yourself in their shoes. Where does the benefit lie for your audience to listen to you? How could you benefit their business? Why would they be interested in your product or service? Do you really understand them? Where are they coming from? It is a great activity to sit and think about this for a few minutes before the call.
A- Ask open-ended questions and LISTEN to their answers. Be genuinely interested in THEM and take notes. If you are seeking specific information, ask specific questions.
T- Tell them a bit about yourself. Keep it concise. If you don't have one already, create a 'five-second commercial' that covers who you are, what you do (USPs are fantastic here!), and the benefits and feelings your customers can expect. Be memorable and give your potential customer and new friend a reason to come and meet with you!