If you’ve been following a long with the column lately then you know that I like to challenge my readers to think outside of the box when it comes to bringing in more business. A few articles ago I wrote about challenging yourself to do some cold calling as a way to test not only your skill but to also determine what it takes to actually set a qualified appointment. Since it’s only been a short time since I posted, I won’t ask you all for results …yet, but I do hoe you send them to me in a few weeks. With that in mind I want to address what you should be looking for when you’re doing your cold calling session. A few of these tips appeared in previous articles but I think a few need repeating or additional explanation.
1. Never sell your product or services in the very beginning of the conversation. Many cold callers and sales people make the mistake of trying to sell the product or service the minute the prospect answers the phone-Don’t. Here’s the thing. How can you sell anyone anything until and unless you know what they need? It’s like going into a department store hoping to buy a shirt and being sold a pair of slacks instead. You have to first determine the needs of the prospect before you sell them. Otherwise you’re selling from fear and shame. Want proof? Most cold callers call you at home and immediately try to cram information down your throat about a product or service that they’re not sure you need or want. And so their first impulse is to “speed talk” their way through the conversation before you can say “not interested and hang up on them”. This also means that they aren’t listening to what you want only to the fact that they have to get the point across in a hurry-thus true salesmanship and professionalism goes out of the window. When do most people speed talk? When they’re nervous and afraid of rejection. Don’t fall into that trap. Take a deep breath, relax and simply state who you are, why you’re calling (and don’t forget to verify that you’re speaking with the decision maker) and then go into your probing questions.
2. Speaking of probing questions. Please note that not all probing questions are “open ended”. Questions like” Tell me more about who you’re currently using for that service “ and “ Ca you explain any problem areas you’ve had with your current vendor “ allow for a more informative conversation with the prospect. After all part of lead generation is about gathering information to make a more informed decision to determine if there is in fact a need and if this prospect is a “good fit”. You want to have a conversation with the prospect as opposed to just selling them a “one price fits all package”. After all cold calling is simply having a conversation with someone you haven’t spoken with before.
3. A “good fit” means that this is someone that you will more than likely be able to do business with at some time in the future. Keep in mind that not everyone that you speak with is someone that you can or should do business with. This is why asking probing questions is so important-because you get to find out ahead of the appointment some pertinent information. For example, if they only make purchase of a certain product once a year in March-wouldn’t you want to know that?