Sales Cold Calling 101
Cold calling has a tendency to paralyze well educated and intelligent people into a state of inaction. If you should suffer from this paralytic condition rest assured you are not alone. The reason may not necessarily result from a lack of courage, but instead may rest in a lack of knowledge and planning. The observer may look upon sales as a simple task, a matter of picking up the phone and dialing numbers. The reality is this view is in fact antithetical. Cold calling is a difficult business skill to master, but a firm understanding of cold calling basics can lead to sales success. In this article we’ll discuss conquering cold calling basics.
Sales are the ultimate score card in business. Without sales a company cannot accomplish its mission, earn profits, or float stock. Sales and Marketing must work together to produce the resources to drive everything else an organization plans to accomplish. As an employee or small business owner you may encounter situations when a sale is dependent on your contribution to the sales process so it behooves you to understand how a sales call, a cold call, is structured. If you are new to sales or struggling with making cold calls knowing how to properly structure a cold call is essential to success.
The Purpose of the Cold Call
The cold call should begin with knowing the specific purpose for making the call. Initially you may find this statement silly because you think the purpose of the Outbound Sales call is to sell products or services, but there are circumstances when this is not the case. Let me explain.
The purpose of the sales call will often be determined by the sales process. The sales process will evolve from the product or service and may indeed call for an immediate sale in which case you would ask the prospect for the sale during the call. But what if your product or service has a long sales tail and requires multiple touches with the customer? In these circumstances the sales process will preempt the purpose of the call, and any benefit from making the call would be to move the prospect further along in the sales process.
Once the purpose is determined there are five basic cold calling steps you can follow to structure the cold call. The cold call structure should have these five basic elements to insure you communicate your proposition properly to the prospect.
3. Body of message
5. Call to action
Cold Call Introduction
The introduction should be short and straight to the point. Here’s an example of a cold call we’ve recently used.
“Hi Bob, ________from XYZ Company. The reason for the call is to talk to you about finding new customers”
You can see from the example there is no delay in getting to the point. The prospect isn't presented with pleasantries or platitudes nor was he asked how his day was going. This simple single sentence communicated our point for making the call. People are busy and will appreciate your professionalism and respect for their time, so just get to the point. You’ll have time to dialogue with the prospect later in the conversation. The introduction should be designed to elicit interest. Anything else is just a waste of the prospects time, and yours.
Sales Call Permission
You should always ask for permission to carry on a conversation with a prospect before jumping into the body of the message. Why? Because when permission is granted prospects subconsciously give themselves permission to hear the message. The permission is not asked in a direct “May I speak with you about” manner, but rather is a suggestive permission to discuss the purpose of the call. This is how we would work the permission into the example above.
“I’d like to get to know how you currently approach finding new customers?”
The permission should immediately follow the introduction. Notice how the permission request is an open ended question. The open ended question doesn't allow a yes or no answer, but requires the prospect to respond. Their response will either be a negative, not interested, allowing you to move on to the next prospect or they will grant you permission by answering the question creating dialogue which will often result in meaningful conversation.
Sales Cold Call Body
The body of your sales cold call message should lead with your selling proposition.
“We offer small business a full service marketing platform at affordable rates”
This could also include a promotional statement your company might offer. Any of the additional features and benefits you might wish to discuss should follow your selling proposition. Getting to your selling proposition early in the conversation will increase your chance of peaking the prospect’s interest before you lose them by talking about less relevant information.
Sales Call Summary
After you have delivered the body of the message, and listened to what the prospect has discussed with you, you're now in a position to summarize how your product or service will benefit the prospect. There are additional sales strategies on how to deal with the summary, but since this article is cold calling 101 we'll make just one additional point. You should take notes on what the prospect has discussed concerning their needs and then in the summary retort how your company's product or service meets those needs, assuming it does. Continuing with our example:
“the marketing platform will help you grow your customer base”
You might also discuss other core features and benefits following this sentence. The summary should be short and to the point consisting of just a couple of sentences.
Sales Call to Action
The sales call to action is where you ask for the sale, ask for a follow up call/meeting, or invite them to an online webinar or company event. Whatever your call to action is it should be very specific and direct.
“Bob, I’d like to get you online for a meeting to show you how the platform works. When would be a good day for you next week”
Note: the cold call example we use consists of 6-10 sentences. Since we're dealing with humans we can expect the two way conversation to naturally extend beyond this, but the core structure of the call remains compact.
In sales less is more. The less you speak and the more you listen the higher the odds go that you’ll find success. There is much more to success in sales than just the cold call. But knowing the purpose of the call and knowing how to structure a cold call using these five basic steps can help you increase your customer base and close more sales.
I enjoy hearing about good and bad sales and marketing experiences. Let me know your stories in the comments section.
Looking to increase your sales knowledge? Here are a couple of recommendations. Consider subscribing to Kevin Gaither's ThisWeekIn sales a free YouTube video series. You can follow this link to view this channel http://thisweekin.com/thisweekin-sales/ . Sales blog by sales trainer Paul McCord http://salesandmanagementblog.com/
Christopher Telles is Founder & CEO of inboundOut, LLC http://www.inboundout.com . InboundOut offers a full service Small Business Marketing Platform on a subscription basis. The platform merges inbound marketing, outbound marketing, seo, local search, and outbound sales into an All-In-One platform. Mr. Telles has 20+ years of marketing and sales experience building entrepreneurial companies in B2B markets. You can reach him at (949) 791-8656, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, twitter @inboundOut , LinkedIn
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