“Don’t dread cold calling” – easier said than done.
48% of the sales reps hate picking up the phone and calling leads. Which leaves 52% being ok with reaching out to prospects. Love it or hate it, it still remains one of the main ways to reach out to prospects and generate leads.
That said, let’s shift our perspective on cold calling and look at 10 proven tips that I have personally tried and which made a big difference for me.
The more you sound like a salesperson, the more resistance you will create in your prospect’s mind. Engage, actively listen, and connect human to human. That’s the bottom line. Don’t spend too much time pitching your product or service. Rather, try to understand the prospect’s situation and see if your product or service is a fit. If it’s not, be transparent about it. You will get people’s respect for not pushing something that will not solve their problem. If it is a solution, present it in a way that can alleviate their pain. In either case, seek to understand the situation first before you talk about your product.
One of the best ways to build rapport is to use the prospect’s own words and build a natural conversation around it. And the worst thing a salesperson can do is blindly follow the script to hit all the checkboxes. Allow yourself some flexibility. If the prospect mentions a pain point, take your time to understand what they mean by that or how it’s affecting them. You can always get back to the questions on the script, but asking about the motivation later might not yield the same results as asking right after the prospect has mentioned it. Don’t overlook good timing.
The more the prospect speaks, the better. A prospect should do 70% of the talking during a sales conversation, and the salesperson should only do 30%. Doesn’t this idea take some pressure off of cold calling? As a caller, you don’t have to speak so much. Ask intelligent questions that would lead the prospect to open up, but be sure the conversation stays relevant and the prospect doesn’t get off track. People who feel heard and understood are more likely to make a connection. Also, as a salesperson, when you hear what people have to say, there is less chance for errors or assumptions.
I hated having people hang up when I called. I hated rejection and not being able to pitch my service. Being so tired of all the objections and negative outcomes, I started thinking about whether there is something I can do to minimize them. There was. I wasn’t handling objections like an expert in my field. Take some time to analyze your calls and identify the most common objections you hear. Craft your response in a way that is short and to the point, sounds intelligent, and makes you look like an expert on the matter. If you are getting objections, it means that people still don’t trust you as an authority to solve their issue, they don’t trust your service yet, or your company. If you find a way to foresee what the prospects fear and address it head-on, you’d have no reason to fear any rejection. Embrace the challenge and have fun with it.
Sounds silly but it works! When I made calls, I used to stand up from my desk and pace around the room. Standing up gives you control over your voice, and it improves your posture, your confidence and even your rhythm. Overall, standing up makes you feel more in control. Physical movement helps mental movement. You don’t need to stand up all the time – I would occasionally go to my computer to take some important notes and then get back on my feet again and focus on the prospect. I have seen a huge confidence and energy boost, not to mention better sales results.
What do the best athletes do after they win a championship? Sure, they celebrate a little but then comes the most important thing – they analyze their games!
Sales is a lot like sports. Win or lose, there’s always another chance to be better. Listen to your call recordings – what went well? Where did you build the best rapport? Is it something in particular you said? Similarly, where did the call turn sour? Figure out the weak spots for improvement.
Preparation matters. Refine and hone your pitch, and do it over and over until you become better.
But perfect practice makes perfect.
Find a coach, a more senior salesperson, or a good training program that offers practice, so you can roleplay different situations AND receive constructive feedback. Train your brain psychologically to accept that it might take 10 No’s before you get to a Yes. The more you practice in a safe environment, the quicker you will get over your fear of cold calling, as you realize nothing bad is going to happen. After all, it’s just sales, it’s not nuclear physics.