There, I said it. You only have 10 seconds, if that, to win a customer over on a cold call.
By the way, show of hands, who likes doing cold calls?
Think of a disaster film trailer, starting out with a black screen, a deep, serious voice and unsettling background music: “The elders fear it.” (aggressive, high-pitched violins). “A task that strikes fear into the hearts of the young and makes even the most experienced tremble with dread.”( close up, jump cuts to a telephone sitting on a desk, dramatic surge in the music. Big title suddenly appearing, with orchestral brass knocking out a downward arpeggio): “The Cold Call”
You get the picture?
But it doesn’t have to be like that. With good intentions, the right targets and some solid preparation, direct sales over the phone can actually be a pleasant experience.
Pick up the phone!
You’ve identified a few prospects. You’ve done your research on their probable pain points. You do research your calls don’t you?
Maybe you’re part of an association or have participated in an industry event related to your prospect. Even as little as that, gives you something to say. In B2B, particularly in Québec, you shouldn’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call someone. After all, you are less than 6 handshakes away (or 6 degrees of separation) from the person you are about to cold call. Some experiments have proven that it can be less than 4.
So get ready and pick up that phone with a smile stamped on your face, a zen attitude and the unshakeable conviction that you and your team will make a difference in the lives of your prospects either now or sometime in the future.
How to ruin the call in less than 10 seconds.
Here is a list of things I avoid doing when I call prospects:
- “How are you?” If this is the first thing that comes out of your mouth, it is a sure sign of discomfort. It’s awkward. I’ve prepared, I know the name of the person I want to reach. If that person picks up the phone, It isn’t because they need a therapy session. “Hello Mr Doe, my name is David Chabot, Vice-President of Business Development at Exo B2B. I’m calling because we are both members of the (association). (pause) I am getting in touch with you because (object of the call) etc.
- “Is this a good time?” Of course it’s a good time. Your prospect just picked up the phone. If it isn’t, don’t worry, they’ll tell you soon enough. If you feel they are unconfortable about talking to you right then and there, don’t let them slip away, make an appointment! All you have to do is ask.
- Don’t use a script, use a “call guide” You have little time for conversation and you’ll often find yourself in transactional mode. Have your call objectives, such as a setting up an exploratory meeting, close by as you call. Everyone goes blank from time to time so have a list or a rough description of what you want to cover within easy reach.
- Ask for a meeting half-heartedly If your objective is to set an exploratory meeting, be clear about it. “maybe we should meet” is vague. The answer will probably be “well, I don’t know”. Compare that with “What would you say to a 90 minute meeting next week. How about Thursday afternoon at one thirty?” The response will be “yes” ,”no”, or an alternative.
Surviving the cold call
The cold call doesn’t have to be that cold. If you have pertinent talking points, your contact will engage. It’s all in the execution. It’s all about practice.
Remember that the cold call is not a horror film. It’s a horror only to unprepared callers and businesses that don’t understand how to make a structured B2B approach. Don’t be an actor or the author of a bad film.
Finally, if you ever get an unprepared caller or a business with the wrong approach, do them and yourself a favor, and refer them to us, so we can help them make better calls and do business with an adaptive approach.