The replies come hard and fast and can do more than brush you off. They can strike you out for good.
“I’m in a meeting.”
“I can’t talk now.”
“Don’t know you.”
“I use another vendor.”
“Why are you calling me?”
“Who are you?”
“What do you want?”
Welcome to the major leagues of cold calling: the higher the decision maker the less room for error. Executives barely have time for their own employees and clients so the cold caller ranks last on their list of concerns. When you get Bill the decision maker on the phone you need to be clear, sharp, confident, to the point, and different from everyone else because he’s heard it all before.
Role play is an excellent way to start the day, especially if you’re new to sales. It’s a warm-up exercise that if practiced correctly will address the objections you’ll face when you’re on the phone with the prospect. Remember, cold calling is like theater; it’s live. There is no take two, take forty-two. You need to nail it—making a strong impression on the decision maker— on the first try. Preparation is everything.
The first call of the morning can be a little stiff; it’s early, the coffee hasn’t kicked in, you’re a little unfocused. Role playing with a colleague will get the blood flowing, get the creaks out of your game, and better prepare you for the real thing.
If possible, pair up with different colleagues in the office to get a different perspective. The purpose of role play is to warm up—to work on the pitch and points of objection. It is not to be difficult and impossibly unyielding. That kind of practice serves no one. It is a waste of time and can hurt the overall morale of the office. Think of role play as batting practice. You’re not there to strike out your colleague. You’re there to let him work his pitch and post pitch dialogue. You’re there to point out what’s working and what’s not.
At the same time, don’t be too easy or generous with the verbal sparring. It doesn’t help to walk right through the exercise untouched without answering some tough questions. You have to be ready for the prospect’s quick replies. If you can’t answer the statements and questions in bold above, then you’re not ready to talk to Bill.
It’s important to prepare yourself to deliver the best pitch possible, but it’s also necessary to prepare yourself to be interrupted, to be cut off in mid pitch. If Bill hits hard with, “I don’t know you,” you need to strike back with something like, “No you don’t, Bill, but I have a excellent opportunity for you” and immediately launch into your short pitch. You can’t be caught flatfooted in the sales game. Ever.
Two to five minutes of role play in the morning (afternoon as well, depending) is all you need. It’s a small investment but payoff can be huge. Remember, all the great hitters take batting practice before they step up to the plate.