Tuesday, February 25, 2014

How to Get a Warm Response to Cold Calling

It’s a rather daunting prospect: you, a telephone, a potential client and a thousand possible outcomes.  Cold-calling is a nerve-racking experience.  Everyone has his or her own, unique, style, but a number of common elements can help you to be persuasive and successful when speaking with potential clients. 

1.  Attitude 

One of the simplest ways to increase your effectiveness at generating new opportunities on the telephone is to be yourself and smile. You need to have confidence in your product.  Believe that the products and services you offer are genuinely excellent, and unique. Interestingly, the physical act of smiling changes the tone of the voice and gives off enthusiasm. This makes people much more willing to listen.

2.  Objective

Having a clear objective is critical. Before you make a call, it’s worth reminding yourself what the objective of the call is. Above all, remember that you’re trying to establish a long-term relationship with a client.  What’s more, it’s useful to express your objective to the person on the other end of the line. People are frustrated if they don’t understand the reason for your call.  Typical objectives are:
  • to obtain the name of the right person
  • to gather information about a company’s current situation/needs
  • to give information on what you provide
  • to arrange an appointment or webinar. 

3.  Messages

Whilst speaking with your contact, you need to express some clear messages. These should include:
  • I’m professional
When you start speaking, you want to convey that you are a professional business person speaking to another professional business person about something that is interesting and useful.
  • I’m credible
One of the most significant reasons that people listen to callers is that they believe they are credible because they provide products or services for many of the biggest and most admired companies in the world. For this reason, you need to learn as many of your client case studies as possible.
  • What I’m telling you is interesting
Every company should have its own USP. Perhaps it’s the latest technology, or the cheapest or the most hard-wearing.  Knowing yours will enable you to describe it easily and in a compelling way.

4.  Investigation 

The people you speak with will be at different stages in the buying cycle, but they are all useful contacts and conversations. The reason is that, even if they are not ready to buy now, the time when they are ready to buy could come around very quickly.  What’s more, their company’s objectives could change and they may require your products or services urgently or one of their colleagues might need your services.  They may even have friends in other companies who need your services
This means that every single conversation you have is useful in some way.

5.  Qualification 

It’s critical to understand what stage your potential clients are at in order to identify what outcome you want from the conversation. This is so that you respond effectively to them, and so that sales people don’t waste their time on pointless follow-up meetings.
What should you ask?
  • How many people will use the product or service?
  • When would they see it?
  • When are you looking to purchase?
  • What’s most important to you for the product or service?
  • Who is the budget holder for this product or service?
  • What stage is the planning for this program at and has the budget been approved?

6.  Dealing with objections

There are a few main reasons why customers will stall the conversation or not arrange a meeting.  For example:
  • It may not be the right time
  • They already have a supplier
  • They aren’t convinced about your credibility
  • They like to make decisions more slowly/prefer to think before committing, even to a simple meeting
  • They are very busy so don’t want to add to their workload.
Objections are most easily overcome if you know the prospect’s current situation and needs (so you can tailor what you say to persuade them) as well as competitor weaknesses (so you can identify how you are different and better).

7.  Closing/Next steps

Broadly, there are two types of closes:
i.  Prospects who you judge are ready to buy
When you close a call with a prospect who has a need and a budget, you will ask more closed questions.
One of the most effective closes is;
“from what you’ve said, it looks like it would be useful for you to meet one of my colleagues to show you our products/services. When are you free this week or next?”

If they become shy, and ask for information, be pleased and tell them you’ll send it to them.   Then ask them when you can call back to arrange an appointment.

ii.  Prospects who you judge are not ready to buy
For these people, your objective is to start the relationship and get permission to contact them until they are ready to buy.

Good ways to close these types of conversations are to agree next steps by asking one or more of the following:
  • “Would you like to be included in invitations to events and future product information and white papers?”
You can then take their email address.
  • “Would you like a short, online, demonstration of our products or services, so that they are familiar to you for when the time is right?”
  • “Do you know the best person to speak with about any product that we offer that we haven’t spoken to you about?”
  • “Do you know anyone in another company who might be interested in hearing about how we help companies with these products and services?”.
 Having many sophisticated and interesting conversations with fellow professionals is exciting. Each call is different - and a new challenge!

The harder you work, the more calls you make, and the more of yourself that you put into each call, the more success you will enjoy.  In the words of Dan Pallotta, entrepreneur and humanitarian activist, “open yourself up to the possibility a phone call offers. Discover this remarkable device called the telephone. It will give you a serious competitive advantage”.