Effective Cold CallingMr. Tim Connor
February 21, 2013 — 944 views
In many ways cold calling is an ancient method when it comes to effective prospecting and yet many manufactured housing organizations rely heavily on this approach. It can be an effective way to identify new prospects but it can also be a stressful, time wasting and discouraging process as many salespeople over the years have learned.
Learning to make cold calls on new prospects is an important skill regardless of a salesperson’s experience, ability, or how long they have been selling. This is just as true when selling manufactured homes as in any other industry. Add to this mix the complexity and diversity of how the internet is impacting the sales process and it’s no wonder salespeople making cold calls begin this process with fear and uncertainty.
For starters, today’s housing consumers are far better educated on an organization’s history, products, services, reputation and overall customer satisfaction before a salesperson dials the phone to make an unsolicited calls on these prospects. Add to this, the simple ability of consumers to compare the products, services and pricing of all housing manufacturers and this only adds to the challenges that all salespeople face.
To have an effective cold calling approach requires ten steps.
1) Learn to control your attitudes and your response to rejection.
The major cause of failure in sales is the fear of rejection. Cold calling creates numerous opportunities for this outcome when there is little planning and a professional approach--but more than anything else, the ability to control your attitudes regardless of the reactions of others due to your attempting to sell them with the establishment of a prior relationship. Controlling your attitudes only requires that you are realistic in managing your expectations. When your expectations are too high you are bound sooner or later to experience disappointment. If you exceed your ability to handle these rejections or perceived failures, sooner or later your inner voice will begin to sabotage your effectiveness, confidence and success.
2) Be professional and respectful.
The major approach of most people cold calling is to see it as a numbers game. It’s NOT a numbers game but a “quality” numbers game or a game of numbers. The other major flaw of cold calling salespeople whether these calls are via the telephone or personal visits is to work from a script or per-determined process. This approach tends to assume that everyone you contact is in the same situation, with the same needs and have the same buying habits. WRONG. A professional approach is to get information before launching into a diatribe of selling stuff that generally only turns most people off.
3) Have a specific set of routines and follow them.
Plan to make a certain number of calls every day. Set aside a certain time every day for these calls. Don’t multi-task while making the calls. Be prepared with enough information about each potential call. Have adequate prospect to call for each time period. Don’t stop calling until you have completed these calls. After the calls are complete, take the time to enter appropriate information into a follow-up log or report of some kind. Develop an action log of things to do as a result of your calls. This list is endless. The more you plan and stick to your plan the better your results will be.
4) Pick up the phone
Break the day up into small blocks of action. Too many people let little distractions keep them from achieving their objectives. Just sit down, pick up the phone and dial. Or, get out of your car and knock on the next door. Don’t wait. Don’t procrastinate and don’t justify waiting due to other things that you feel need to get done.
5) Cold calling is not about talking but conversation.
The way to start all cold calls is asking for permission to ask questions. The next step if given permission, guess what? You got it ask questions prior to launching into your message. If you are not given permission ask why not. Is this a bad time? Would you like me to follow-up with you? Are you interested in_______. Can you spare just a few minutes if I could__________? Got it, ask before you sell.
6) Use humor
Most people today are really stressed. Too much work and too little time. And now you show up. Well guess what, whether they will benefit from your product or service is not the issue. The concern is that you will keep them from getting their work done or off to their tennis lesson. Be respectful and don’t assume that just because you happened to contact them at this particular time that they were just sitting waiting for your call. One of the best ways to disarm people and lower their stress is the professional and careful use of humor. Not talking about jokes here but being sensitive to their circumstances. I always use humor on every contact no matter what the call or who the recipient is. Yes sometimes it doesn’t fly, but most times it does.
7) It’s all about selling and not logging calls
Cold calling isn’t just about closing sales but prospecting as well. So, what’s the difference? Cold calling to sell is when you contact someone, give them your “pitch” (please eliminate this word from your vocabulary) and ask for the business. Cold calling from a prospecting perspective is when your purpose is to gather information to see if this prospect is worthy of future time, energy or resources.
8) Leave the call with some kind of action.
Whatever the outcome never leave a loose end. If you make the sale, confirm your mutual actions prior to ending the call. If you don’t make the sale, ask if the prospect would like you to follow-up at some future time. If they don’t want to talk to you now, ask them when would be a better time?
9) Have a follow-up plan
If you are making over 15 cold calls a day whether in person or on the phone, there will be follow-up actions for every interaction. Keep several logs like; Things I can improve from what I learned. Mistakes I made. How to avoid them in the future. Things I did right. Future follow-up actions. Things I need to change. Etc.
10) Keep good records
The above logs can help you with this step. It’s hard to get better at anything if you don’t know where you need to get better. Keep thorough records and comparisons for example; number of calls per day. Successful calls per day. Number of rejections per day. Average time for each call. Common responses to my calls. Average sales volume per call. Conversion percentage. Again this list could go on and on.
If your primary approach to selling and or prospecting is cold calling, if you will follow the above ten steps you will tend to have a greater degree of success than if you just start calling. The key here however is to be gradually developing other prospecting and selling techniques that over time will require less time, create less rejection and give you consistent increased sales results. Things like; strategic alliances, referrals, centers of influences, the use of advocates or champions.
Mr. Tim Connor
Connor Resource Group
Global renowned sales and management speaker and trainer and best selling author of over 80 books including several international best sellers.