One of the most difficult steps in sales is cold calling. It’s a task dripping with anxiety, dread and reluctance. People want to be loved and respected. Inserting ourselves into a place that yields rejection is scary. But this is the problem. Prospects rarely seek out vendors and buy. Waiting around for the phone to ring is a bad plan. So it falls on the seller to make the first move. That first move is often on the telephone. You need to master your cold calling fear.
My definition of a cold call is when you reach out to prospect and they’re not expecting the call. You only have a few seconds to elicit interest making it tricky work. The trick is to have a service mindset focused on learning about the client, understanding their situation, then ascertaining if you can help.
To make this lesson real, we’ll use an example of a real phone call. This call contains a series of steps. Each step has a reason and builds on the previous step.
Do you stink at cold calling? Having a cold-call script you trust stops call reluctance. Meet Pat, build that script and start setting appointments today. Register for the Conquer the Cold Call Consultation
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ACME Everlast Cold Call
Pat: Hi Mike, This is Pat Helmers from ACME Everlast You and I just connected on LinkedIn Did I catch you at a bad time. Do you have 1 minute?
Mike: YEAH I GUESS, BUT ONLY A MINUTE
P: We help business owners keep their data safe from costly feral squirrel hackers.
You’ve heard about the squirrel attacks right?
M:YEAH I THINK SO
P: I’m calling because we have a special assessment program to review your vulnerability to squirrels this month and we’re looking for companies between 20-100 employees and I noticed on your website you have Database solution for Oak forest management and by the way that’s a great looking website!
M: OH THANKS WE PAYED A LOT FOR THAT……..
P: Have you been attacked by the squirrels
M: NO NOT YET
P: What would happen if you were to lose the integrity of your database?
M: …….pause …….OH THAT WOULD BE AWFUL: UNHAPPY CLIENTS – REBUILD FROM BACKUPS
P: Really, what else
M: LOST DEALS
P: What else
M: …….pause …….OH I DON’T KNOW I GUESS CREDIT CLIENTS FOR LOST BUSINESS
P: What else
M: …….pause ……. OH I DON”T KNOW PROBABLY MISS OUR YEAR GOAL
P:So that would be bad…
M: OH YEAH WE HAVE EXPANSION PLANS DEPENDENT ON THE INCREASED REVENUE
P: And you’ve not done an assessment on your system before?
M: NO… WE’VE THOUGHT ABOUT IT
P: I’m curious what’s held you back…
M: NEVER REALLY FOUND THE TIME
P: What else?
M: …….pause …….DON’T KNOW IF WE CAN REALLY AFFORD IT
P: Interesting… what else?
M: DON”T KNOW IF WE CAN TRUST THE RESULTS, I BET IT’S ALL A SETUP TO SELL US LOTS OF SERVICES
P: Yes I’ve heard that before…. What else?
M: WELL I GUESS THAT’S ABOUT IT…
P:…….pause …….Sounds it sounds like you’re concerned about a squirrel attack and you’re willing to do something about it but at the same time you want to make sure that you’re making an informed decision that doesn’t cost you and arm and a leg. Is that about right?
M: pause………YEAH I GUESS SO
P: Mike we’ve been doing this for a long time. We just did a company in your town called Soup to Nuts and found 15 breaches open to squirrel attacks. They said the same thing you said.. .if their system was to be attacked it could cost them millions We did a free assessment on them and for a very economical investment they were able to remediate their system and avoid calamity. This isn’t really a question of if but when. Do you think this will happen to you too?
M: I DON”T KNOW
P: Have you ever had your credit card numbers stolen?
P: It’s the same thing right?
M: I GUESS SO
P: If we were to do this assessment, who’s the tech person in your organization we would work with?
M: MARY IS OUR CHIEF TECHNICAL OFFICER
M: YES MARY SMITH
P: Do you think we could start working with Mary Smith tomorrow to get an assessment started?
M: YES I THAT’S POSSIBLE
P: Could you check your email Mike, I just sent you a link do you see it?
P: Great, click on the link and fill in Mary’s contact info. What’s her phone number?
M: OH IT’S 630- 768-3134
P: Let’s see is we can get this schedule for next week. I’ll give Mary a call later today. Sound good
P: Great Mike, well thanks for helping set this up with Mary and when it’s done I’d like to set up a meeting with you for the results. Do you have your calendar up, would this time next week work?
M: LET ME SEE….. YES I CAN DO THAT.
P: Great; Again thanks Mike for everything and for all your help.
Design of a Cold Call
Let’s walk through the dialogue step by step and explain what’s going on. Each statement I made has a reason. Notice that most of them are questions. The entire script is choreographed with the following goals:
- Connect with the prospect so they agree to have a conversation
- Discover their pain or desires
- Assess if they are qualified to buy my products or services
- Show how my products/services address the problems and desire they just mentioned
- Get them to agree to a follow up meeting ie. get an appointment.
- The goal is to set up an appointment and to do this whole call in just a few minutes.
Step by step breakdown of call
This scripts assumes you’ve done your homework and have a good idea they are a qualified buyer. You can learn amazing things on social media, their website and the demographic of the customers they serve. It also assumes that you have a value proposition. We’ve covered this in length already but if you can’t easily explain that you serve a specific market with a specific set of needs and desires by provide a specific product/service/solution that have a set of specific benefits. The goal of any cold call is to schedule an appointment.
Step One: Call
ONE- Call – Dial, Read the script and get permission to engage in a conversation
- Ask for them by name and mention how you know them. I’m a big fan of LinkedIn and use it to warm them up. This is what’s called social selling. When you see those ads that say “Never cold call again!”, that’s what they’re doing. But it doesn’t have to be social selling. You could also say, I met you at a networking meeting, or a conference, or someone recommended you reach out to them. Make it seem natural that you and they have a common connection and it makes sense for the two of you to be communicating.
- When they agree give you a minute of their time, the power shifts from them to you. They’ve given you permission to take a bit of their time. Use this gift wisely.
- Quickly get to the punch sharing your value proposition .
Step Two: Share Reason
Use value proposition to share reason your calling
- I have a reason for calling. In this situation we have a special offer. The reason doesn’t need to be all that important. Maybe you’re going to be in town next Tuesday. Maybe you just launched a new product. etc… Always have a reason. Short and sweet.
Step 3: Qualify
Ask questions and listen if prospect qualified
- Immediately start asking them questions. The more they talk, the higher likelihood you can advance the sale. Turn this into a natural conversation, not a presentation or worse, a lecture. Don’t fall into “selling telling”. If I’m talking more than a couple minutes i have an internal timer fire off and I start getting concerned I’m boring them or not adding value. So I ask a question to make sure they are still engage.
- Compliment them. In this case I said nice things about their website. No matter how good or bad it is, it’s good for you. It gives you insight into the kind of company they are. When doing outside sales calls I always complimented the building or something in the persons office. Do what comes natural if you’re talking to someone you already know.
- Keep asking questions and truly listen to their answers. Have you been attacked, if you got a attacked what would happen? How would it cost you? Discover their pain and the ramifications of their pain.
- Find out if your competition as already beat you to this customer
- Don’t cut them off keep them talking. Keep the conversation going by asking What Else. When I was in college I worked for a marketing company during the summer. I was one of those people who stood with a clipboard in the mall asking people questions about consumer products like cars, rice and beer. One trick they taught us to say what else after every open ended question. It was amazing what people would say. Often it was the third, fourth or fifth question before they really got to the thing that mattered most to them. What Else. In the end you will know if they are qualified.
- Don’t argue or debate over their objections. They are concerned about cost, quality, profit, time and being conned.You can’t blame them given all the sketchy sales people out there. Let them know you’re listening respectfully
- Once all the what elses are done, show how you overcome their concerns. Use examples of successful past clients. Offer free services to instigate a follow up in-person sales call.
- Once they agree they have a problem that’s a huge step forward. In this case I ask about the possibility of doing a free assessment. I start acting like an employee of the company and helping them figure out who and when I can work with the right staff, in this case Mary. But it could be just asking if a time to meet works for them within the next two weeks. This is the WHOLE GOAL of this phone call, to get scheduled 1 on 1 appointment.
- Notice I ask about possibility. This way I don’t get a hard no answer. Most anything is possible. If they can agree to a possibility, you’ve advanced the sale.
Step 4: Schedule Appointment
Get on the prospects calendar to fully share your value proposition.
- Giving away free stuff is a great way to get people’s interest. But it must be something that makes sense in the context of your offering. In this case we’re giving away a free assessment. But it could be a quick document or article that makes the prospect a little bit wiser and well informed. You need to give to get. A pen, post-it notes or coffee cups don’t have near the value of a well written 5 step checklist pertinent to their industry.
- The goal of the call is to get an appointment. In this case we’re trying to schedule a meeting to go over the assessment. While you have them on the phone get them on your calendar. Don’t say you’ll call them back to set up a time. Never leave the call without a follow up scheduled.
- Have the attitude I’m here to help my customers. I’m not going to take advantage of them. I’m going to earn their trust for life. If I can’t help them maybe I can refer them to someone who can. I’m here to help.
- Treat everyone like a distant cousin, someone you see once and awhile. You don’t know them that well but you deeply feel related to them. Not like a close friend, but a cousin
- Think about your family, close friends, colleagues and community. Consider the skills that you use to build teams, help one another, listen, go the extra mile, partner. Consider those skills and use them when calling. Sales isn’t something separate from life. It is life. And what works with people close to you, works in sales.
How To Boost Your Cold Call Skills
Having a cold-call script you trust stops call reluctance. Meet Pat, build that script and start setting appointments today. Register for the Conquer the Cold Call Consultation
On February 23, 2018 Pat offered 10 free consultations. Register here and use the discount code “coldcall”
Cold Calling Tips
We have many past episodes we’ve shared with advice on how to cold call . Listen now!
- Strictly Cold Calling – Success Strategies for Business Development with Kerry Heaps #160
- 7 Healthy Phone Habits to Get First Meetings with Marylou Tyler #150
- Myths on Social Selling with Mark Hunter #142
- Cold Calling Role Play with John Trybulec #136
- 6 Simple Steps for Generating New Leads With Chris Helmers
- Secrets to Prospecting Like a Pro with Carrie Berens #120
- Stop Cold Calling Start Communicating with Odile Faludi #109
- How to Sell to the Obvious with Stephen Schiffman
- Sales For Start-ups with Mano Behera
- Prospecting for New Sales Leads with Steve Kloyda #73