The words ‘cold-calling’ are enough to send any good salesperson running for the hills.
My previous job was as a full-time cold caller.
I made 60 calls every day (my record was 80).
- 11.5 calls an hour
- or 2 calls every 15 minutes
…and if you think I enjoyed making these, ice-cold calls to complete strangers, day after day…then you are very wrong!
This job was brutal, testing, and dare I say- soul destroying.
But it taught me a lot about people and how to create a tried and tested selling process that allowed me to turn a cold call into a sale – with minimal damage to the ego!
Here are the key 7 things I learnt about selling during my time on the phones.
By following my system, you will only ever talk to people who WANT to talk to you and who are ready to buy.
You can apply these learnings to your own business, to help you increase your sales and build your confidence, so you are never afraid to make a follow-up call again or to close the deal.
1. Be Responsive
55% of companies take 5+ days to respond or don’t they respond at all and only 7% of companies respond within 5 minutes.
That is a heck of a lot of missed opportunities.
Whether you receive a business call, or you make one remember;
- Enquiry → Leads
- Leads → Sales
- Sales → Revenue
This doesn’t need a whole lot of explaining. This is an objective rule, if there is an enquiry of any size, it is an opportunity- there is no option to wait.
If by some chance you’re out of office, out to lunch, in a meeting, you MUST respond as quickly as humanly possible. There is a 10 x decrease in your odds of making contact with a lead after the first 5 minutes.
Any time wasted not responding to an enquiry, should be looked at as that potential customer shopping around at your competitors. #timeismoney
2. Do Not Delay. Pick up the phone and call.
Overthinking = bad. Don’t do it. Ever.
Overanalyzing the conversation you’re about to have with your potential customer is THE easiest way to psych yourself out. The worst thing that can happen is someone hangs up on you, so what have you got to lose?
The longer you wait to make the call, the more opportunities you are handing to your competitor. Forget about looking silly, or future tripping about possible outcomes, just pick up the phone.
If you believe in what you’re selling, then the customer will believe in you.
3. Do your research before making a call
No matter, who you’re calling and what you’re selling you can always do some background research. Say you’ve just met a potential customer for the first time at a dinner party.
Once you’ve got their details, do some research on them over the weekend ready to call them on Monday. This is as simple as doing a basic Google, Facebook, LinkedIn search- even check YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat. It’s 2017, everyone has a digital footprint!.
Now that you’ve sourced a bit more information about the potential customer you can refer to your call as a ‘tepid call’. Not quite warm, but not quite cold either.
Within one minute you can arm yourself with knowledge of a business like:
- All products/services range
- General overview/history
- Location/operating hours
- Who works there
- Links to their social media pages
- News/blogs/further info
This is more than enough to spark a conversation out of thin air, tell them what they need and where you can help.
And if the conversation gets off track, you can use your belt of pre-researched tools to bring it back in line, or change the conversation if things get off track, or straight up… Awkward.
And trust me this will happen to you at least once, twice… A dozen times… no need to get embarrassed by it.
Believe in your product and believe in your ability and the confidence will follow.
The ultimate goal and the best conversation to have in sales (is for someone to buy your product/service on the first contact… obviously) is to have a conversation that flows, is informative and sounds like a normal conversation.
Think, talking to a close friend in the pub about your product.
4. Each call should have a purpose
Now, this may sound rather obvious, to begin with, but each call you make should have a clear purpose, for what the desired outcome is- whether it’s giving relevant information, organising a meeting or finalising a deal.
Spend a couple of minutes before picking up the phone to write down the points you need to make during the call. Don’t write a script (scripts are impersonal) instead, just have a brief roadmap of where the call needs to end up.
You don’t have to sell your product/service on the first call, but progress should be made during every call. People don’t like wasting time or having their time wasted #timeismoney.
Millennials are petrified of making phone calls
Has today’s technology, such as smartphones and social media killed the need to speak over the phone to each other?
Have we become telephonically (I always wanted to use that word) lazy because of it?
If you’re serious about the business you need to snap out of that mindset. Pick up that phone and know why you’re about to make a call…
It could mean the difference of gaining, missing or losing a long-term customer/client and their network.
The point? Whether it’s a calling a ‘missed call’ back, checking a voicemail or making important sales call you should always have a goal in mind. Write down some key dot points down on a pad to say when you’re over the phone.
Remember, don’t write a script, rarely does someone sound natural when reading off a script, plus the conversation almost never stays on the course you think it will. Be ready for anything…
5. Give them a free taste
Giving someone something for free doesn’t necessarily have to be tangible, it doesn’t even need to cost you anything, it just needs to be of use to your customer.
Offering a deal-sweetener will help establish rapport, making it easier to sell later down the track. Just make sure it is of use to the receiver. It could be knowledge, something their competitors might not know, a sample, proposal or a quote.
Just make sure that it leads to something not for free. Don’t give it all away. Just give them a taste.
This technique, given half a chance, should be used as quickly as possible.
If the person of has called you, and you can offer them a freebie on the first contact, do it. There is no time to wait.
6. Identify the time wasters aka Tyre Kickers
TK’s or ‘tyre kickers’ as we call them, think they are pretty smooth.
These are the people who are shopping around, with little or no intention to buy anything from you. They’re simply wasting your time and they can be extremely detrimental to your business.
It can be difficult to identify a tyre kicker to begin with.
They appear to show interest in buying your product/service but ultimately have zero intention of following through. TK’s are looking for as much value as possible and most likely have a hidden agenda (i.e. price shopping or they’re a competitor).
Weeding out those people is tricky to begin with, but here are the 6 tell-tale signs.
6 Signs You’re Dealing With A Tyre Kicker
- They never tell you what business they work for
- They won’t give you their business’ phone number
- They only give you their personal email address/mobile number
- They will avoid speaking to you over the phone as much as possible
- They will dodge and never return your calls
- Each encounter will be quite short and will revolve around pricing
Don’t be afraid to turn them away, sometimes a ‘No’ can be just as good as a ‘Yes’.
I have spent months chasing up clients who initially showed interest and fed me a whole lot of broken promises that ended with:
“Oh, we have decided to not go ahead anymore…” Or something (painfully) similar…
Typically, if a client is going to go ahead with a deal you should know within 2 – 4 weeks maximum (unless otherwise stated for good reasoning).
If you suspect a time waster, don’t be afraid of asking them a forward, closed answer question.
‘Is this something you want to go ahead with?’
The time saved by getting a definitive answer will allow you more time to make other enquiries and devote your time to real leads.
7. Don’t take rejection personally
I dare say this could be a sizable, contributing factor as to why a lot of people don’t like making phone calls in business.
You could be the greatest businessman in the south, but, there is just no way you can convert 100% of enquiries. So don’t take it personally.
I really, really struggled with this in the beginning, not the rejection itself, but the manner in which some people went about it. It’s truly amazing what people will say over the phone but would never say in person. # keyboard phone-warriors
A helpful technique can be referenced back to the basic tool of, communicating your problems. A simple conversation with your boss or colleague about a difficult phone call immediately after it happened allows you to debrief, to get an outside opinion and most importantly to gain reassurance that the difficult prospect was being unreasonable and unprofessional.
I cannot emphasise enough…
Do. Not. Take. Rejection. Personally.
It can come as a shock, but take control by adjusting your attitude towards being rejected and move on.
It does take some practice but you will get there.
I guarantee, if you spend a few months calling strangers, you will eventually develop your own way of handling small and large matters – everyone, on both ends of the phone are different and each call should be looked at as a unique and customised conversation.
How quickly you can tailor this approach comes down to raw experience and practice.
- What do you think about the tips?
- Would you consider taking them into your sales techniques?
- Which tips have and haven’t worked for you in sales?
- Would love to hear about your tips and stories in sales in the comments below.