In sales, prospecting is the life blood of the business. Unfortunately, it is usually the activity that salespeople enjoy least. Generally when someone tells me that they enjoy making cold calls, I know one of two things is going on: they are either lying or they don’t really make them. No one likes dealing with the rejection and failure associated with cold calls, but there are ways that you can make the calls feel more natural. One way to increase your probability for cold call success is to build comfort and context with the prospect.
The more comfortable that you can make the prospect feel at the beginning of the call, the better. If the prospect feels that you are trying to sell something or that you are being a pushy, aggressive salesperson, the more likely their defense mechanisms will kick in. To build context you clearly must articulate who you are and why it may be important for the prospect to continue the call.
Here are five ways that you can help you build comfort and context on a cold call:
1. Appreciate the prospect’s time – Research has shown that the number one thing a prospect wants a sales person to do on a call is appreciate their time. One of the prospect’s biggest fears is that you will go on and on and waste their time. The salesperson must remember that for the prospect this is an unexpected call. By saying that you will be brief and asking for permission to continue can make the prospect feel comfortable and in control. Ironically, that puts you in control and allows you to further the sale.
2. Answer the question, “Why do I want to talk to you?” – As soon as the prospect realizes it’s a cold call, they are saying to themselves, “Why do I want to talk to this person?” If you can do a good job answering this question right up-front, it will increase the probability that the prospect will relax want to continue the call. What is your value proposition? Can you help them reduce costs, be more efficient, or help them grow their business? Knowing you have helped other companies in the same position, will enable you to answer this question.
3. Build Context – Who are you and what is the purpose of your call? It is important to know the objective of your call before you pick up the phone. Can you clearly articulate who you are, your company and the purpose of the call in the first 20 to 30 seconds? Commit this part of your conversation to memory, don’t wing it. The easier it is for you to explain who you are, the easier it will be to listen to what they say. Listening to the prospect’s pain (i.e. need) (feedback) is one of the most important aspects extending the call. If you are just calling to introduce yourself and find out what they are doing in a certain areas you are missing the opportunity to move the sale forward.
4. Leverage Social Media – Within a few years, cold colds could be virtually extinct. With the advent of social media there is so much information available on potential prospects. The internet with sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, company blogs, tweets and web sites are all potential sources for finding out about your targeted prospects. Your ability to use this information can help both the comfort and context on the call. The more relevant you are to the prospect, the more likely they will want to talk to you.
5. Practice, Practice, Practice – How often do you spend practicing the introduction of your call? Every time you pick up the phone to make a cold call, you are under some level of pressure. Practicing your introduction can help you fine tune your context and sound more natural on the phone. Just like professional baseball players having batting practice every day, you should find time to practice to better perform under pressure.
Use these 5 tips the next time you are prospecting. Remember, you don’t have to love making cold calls; you just have to make them. Effectively building comfort and context in the beginning of the call can help both you and the prospect have an easier conversation.