The art of Successful Cold Calling – Getting to YES!

The art of Successful Cold Calling – Getting to YES!

We are told by our clients that one of the toughest aspects that their sales teams face today is the ability to secure quality sales appointments.

It is a known fact that most sales people are adverse to making the dreaded cold call (I mean how much rejection can one person take?), and hence they approach this vital task with a negative mind set, which ultimately sets them up for potential failure.

The truth is that Prospects generally do not welcome sales calls, as quite frankly they are sick of receiving call after call from incompetent sales people who come across in an incoherent manner, plodding through their poorly ‘read’ sales script and expecting to gain a positive response from the Prospect (oblivious to their lack of selling skills!)

Prospects have also geared their Assistants to block sales calls and hence the sales person is faced with the challenge of having to get past the gatekeeper first, before even having a chance to connect with the ultimate prospect.

So yes, it has become decidedly difficult to connect telephonically with desired prospects, but a true sales professional can rise to the occasion and secure quality sales appointments.

Sales courses often do not give sufficient attention to this vital activity and yet Cold Calling if approached tactically and not merely as an indiscriminate ‘numbers game’, will achieve far more desirable results. There are basic behaviours and techniques that if adopted, will turn the cold-call process into profitable outcomes!

6 steps to cold-calling success!

Step 1- Harness a Positive Energy & Attitude

Take the pain out of the cold calling process by getting your mind right! You can choose to mentally fight the exercise (and set yourself up for failure), or embrace this vital sales activity.

A true sales professional will set aside dedicated time for the pure purpose of telemarketing (cold calling). To guarantee a solid sales pipeline, this activity should be scheduled for at least twice a week – First thing in the morning is the best time to make cold calls as you and the Prospect will still be fresh.

Eliminate all interruptions by advising your colleagues that you are commencing your  tele-marketing activity.

Create a productive environment by tidying your desk and ensure you have a pen, notepad and computer handy. Eliminate all distractions (and this includes switching off your cellular phone as having it on silent will still prove to be a distraction).

Ensure a positive frame of mind and commence calling – Each prospect should feel that they are the only person that you are phoning and that they are special and unique.

Step 2 – Qualify your prospect in advance

Dedicated time should be set aside weekly for the pure purpose of gaining the details of both the ‘gatekeeper’ and the ultimate prospect. Ensure that you have their first names, surnames and designations on hand.
Never phone the switchboard and ask who the Marketing Manger is and then immediately request to be put through to him or her. This approach will position you as a novice who is trying their luck and you may hit a barrier from the receptionist immediately.
Ensure cold calling momentum by creating as long (and yet relevant) a list as possible.

Step 3 – Design a ‘Benefit Driven’ Cold Call Script

Ensure that you maximise the ‘10 second window of opportunity’ that you may have with the Prospect by carefully crafting a strong value proposition opening. You need to create a compelling reason to be heard whilst establishing trust and rapport. You only have seconds to gain the attention of the listener so ensure that you get to the point quickly and that your message highlights the value (outcomes / benefits) that your service offers vs. being a product peddler!
To ensure that you are not caught off guard during the call, strategise and prepare appropriate responses to the 3 most common objections that your Prospects typically raise with you.

Step 4 – Skills practise to achieve a winning telephone approach

Vocal quality is key! Skills practice your telephone technique to ensure that you speak with clarity and energy. Your message should be fluid but it should not sound as though you are reading a script. Your goal should be to sound like a ‘Senior Executive’ (even though you may be in your early 20’s) – As the old saying goes “fake it till you make it!”

Step 5– Win over the Gatekeeper and the Prospect

The Executive Assistant can often influence her manager’s decision making process so approach her as an ally not the enemy. Always approach the Gatekeeper with a great deal of respect. Use her name if possible and in a confident manner request to speak to the Prospect – Refer to the Prospect by his / her first name i.e. “Mary, please may I speak with Peter” (you almost want to position the request as though you know the Prospect and yet you don’t want to come across as deceitful).
If the Gatekeeper attempts to block the call with a response such as: “What is this call in connection with?” . . . you need to be prepared to respond confidently and politely as follows: “Mary, I want to share with Peter how we can support him to . . . . . and I would really appreciate your assistance.  . . .

Step 6 – Winning over the prospect

Impress the Prospect with a confident and strong opening. There is no warm-up period. Harness all your enthusiasm and competence to quickly and professionally greet the Prospect and deliver the first portion of your script (your value proposition).

Do not waiver when an objection is thrown at you as often an objection is just the prospects test of your level of capability. Overcome objections by demonstrating that you are ‘listening’ and that you care about his/her response.

When an objection is raised, this is an opportunity to keep the conversation flowing:
Possible objection: “We already have a provider in this regard . . .”
You:  “I appreciate you sharing that with me  . . .may I just ask, are you 100% satisfied with the outcomes that your current provider is offering?”
Prospect:  “Yes I am”
You:  “I am so pleased that you are finding that their offering is working for you however . . . if you were to consider changing service providers in the future, what will be the most important factor to you in making that change?”
or
You: “Even though you have a current provider can we schedule an obligation free time to meet, so you can evaluate how we can possibly in the future meet and exceed your ideal expectations?”

Going for the close
Go for the close by requesting a meeting. Always suggest a brief duration time i.e. 30 minutes – once you are in the meeting, if you have captured the prospects attention he / she will allow the meeting to extend!

Written by:
Beth-Ann Galvin
Managing Director

Business Communication Skills Holdings (Pty) Ltd.

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