One of the most difficult responsibilities for any selling professional is lead generation. And one of the oldest methods of generating leads is through cold calling. With little preparation and a lot of angst, selling professionals are sent adrift to call countless individuals in pursuit of income. But there is a better way.
Typically many selling professionals are coerced into cold calling by their sales managers and organizational culture. The term describes calling individuals who do not know you and coaxing them into buying something from you. Rejection is common because of a lack of need, no prior relationship, and interruption. The following are ways to avoid buyer resistance:
- Understand the rules: Cold calling is meant to help create a relationship, not move products. Individuals buy from those they know and trust. Cold calling is only meant to introduce a concept and then to help advance any notion of relationship.
- Use target marketing: Divide the market into segments and subcultures based on buying habits to aid in focusing specifically on wants and needs. To aid in cold calling efforts, sellers can selectively target organizations and individuals demographically, psychographically, and geographically. Before embarking on a cold calling campaign, choose 12 to 15 prospects by company, want, need, or current event. Then conduct some ancillary research using Google, Leadership Directories, or The Wall Street Journal. Look for key officers and possible buyers of your service; this will also help avoid speaking to numerous gatekeepers.
- Keep it simple and organized: The problem with cold callers is that there is a continuous spewing of information. Deliver information in bits. Provide content, then seek affirmation and gain an action step. Then keep silent and wait for a reply. Prospects desire information that is different, helpful, and provides value.
- Write a letter: Produce more successful calling with a simple letter. First do your homework; know who you are calling and why. Write a letter, not an e-mail, before you call that focuses on a simple need. Send the letter to a key decision maker of your respective target group. Mention something that is relevant in the news to help build a transition to a current situation that is germane to the business need, for example, “I have noticed in the business press that XYZ is having a tough time attracting and retaining clients while maintaining market share. Given the added competition of the Internet and boutique firms, the pressure will undoubtedly increase.” Distinguish your firm from others and provide three to four bullets or measurable achievements for your product or service. Offer to send your press kit and other relevant information. Close the letter with your desire to call the person at a particular time and date.
- Create an action step: Always provide action steps for everything you do, either in print or verbally. Never leave up to the customer what you want done today.
- Follow up: Nothing is worse than a seller who does not follow up on the actions created. Your decisions will be more abundant and rejections smaller.
Any new development takes some time and practice. If you want your cold calling to be more successful, attempt something new. In today’s competitive global economy it is not about working harder but smarter. Individuals want difference and value, and attempting a new routine to cold calling might just be your recipe for success.
Drew Stevens, is the author of the sales techniques book Split Second Selling. He is also the creator of the Sales Leadership Certificate, a program offering an accredited degree in the profession of selling. His podcast is called Sales Fitness.