This weeks blog is to do with the “tug of war” of making sales calls. You may be aware that marketing is often referred to as “pull” and “push” – pull being marketing that subtly generates interest in your business to a wide cross section of prospects, this includes social media, networking, online and offline advertising etc etc and “push” being the more traditional type of sales – calling, prospecting, mailshots, email campaigns etc etc.
Cold calling definitely falls into the “push” category and, especially in the early stages of any sales call, there’s an awful lot of pushing going on so, how do you push effectively without pushing too hard and scaring the prospect off?
1 – Be likeable. Time and time again I have talked about the whole myth of the fact that an introductory call has to be “cold”. Be likeable, be personable, use humour (appropriately), be friendly, be professional. Be someone that the prospect wants to talk to
2 – Have consideration for their time. The chances of calling a prospect when they’re not in the middle of doing something else are very, very slim. Be conscious of the fact that you’re barging into their day, don’t just rush through a list of questions or launch straight into your pitch without first checking whether it’s convenient to talk. Yes I’ve had plenty of people disagree with this, saying things like “well if you give them the opportunity to say it’s not convenient to talk, they’re going to tell you” well of course they’re going to tell you but at least you’ve shown that you appreciate they’re busy and can then ask for a better time to talk. This usually also then leads to an opportunity to run through a very quick intro as to why you’re calling and what benefits you can bring. 99.9% of the time, it’s better to ask. Who cares about the .1%?
3 – Don’t push too hard too soon. Yes you have to set out early in the conversation why you’re calling but don’t push for a meeting or an order or whatever you’re ultimately looking to get out of the call until you’ve generated some interest. After my introduction I always like to run through some diagnostic questions – these are typically questions that result in a yes/no answer from the prospect which, although often seen as a cardinal sin in the world of sales are far more effective in the early stages of a sales call than going straight for the open questions. Why is a prospect going to open up to you in the early stages of a call – they don’t know who you are, they don’t know what you offer, you don’t even really know if they’re the decision maker. There’s a real art to progressing these diagnostic questions from the point of establishing they’re the decision maker right up to the point of getting them to open up about their problems. Plan these out way before you even think about making the call. A brilliant resource for this type of questioning is “The Secrets of Question Based Selling” by Thomas Freese. A book I personally swear by!
4 – Get them to open up. You’ve run through your diagnostic questions, you’ve established your authority in the conversation, you’ve clarified that they’re the right person to be talking to – now get them talking. This is the point for the open ended questions – the old “who, what, when, where, why” and how? I personally like “what can you tell me about……” and have a list of solutions ready for the potential issues they mention. This is where the tug of war becomes more evenly matched – you’re no longer purely pushing, you’re now in a position to present genuine solutions to their problems – possibly problems they didn’t even realise they had at the beginning of the conversation
5 – Believe! So many sales people fall at the first hurdle because they just don’t have strong enough belief in their product, their solution, their company or even themselves. You’re never going to win the tug of war if the prospects belief in their current position is stronger than your belief in improving it. Belief builds confidence, belief builds credibility, belief builds understanding. Belief is the cornerstone of all successful sales conversations.
Yes, “cold calling” is always going to be an intrusive way of introducing yourself but that’s the nature of sales I’m afraid – you’ve got to keep pushing, just make those pushes as beneficial as possible for both parties and you’ll see your results significantly improve
Inspired Business Development
Unit K9 Cradley Enterprise Centre
T:01384 566 078