For most salespeople the part they hate the most about their job is cold-calling. This is when you call some unsuspecting person and try to explain to them how your product is going to revolutionize their life. It is really the most fundamental and basic concept in sales, find someone who does not know about your product or service and convince them of why they need it.
There are many reasons why people do not enjoy this aspect of the job, such as having to deal with frequent rejection, feeling like you are bothering someone during their work day and just generally being out of your comfort zone. However, like it or not, it is a huge part of any salesperson’s job and one which must be done if you want to succeed in sales.
So we put together some tips that we have learned over the years of both cold-calling people as well as responding immediately to call back requests. This is not a “how to” guide for cold calling, but the intention is to tell you tips you might not know to help you get better results from each phone call.
1. Know Why You Are Calling?
I have called for both B2C and B2B companies and both of them have very different reasons for cold-calling. What is my end objective? Am I trying to get you buy a product (magazine subscriptions), am I trying to get you change from your current supplier (electricity), am I trying to get a meeting/coffee with you (digital agency) or am I trying to get you to sign up for a free trial of my product (Software). Each one requires you to approach the phone call differently. (By the way those are all actual companies I have sold over the phone for)
Generally with B2C calls they tend to focus on selling or getting you to change your current supplier. This usually involves a lot more information or convincing before customers decide yes or no. With B2B calls their end goal tends to be to get a meeting with that person. This phone calls tend to be more straightforward, you lay out the advantages your business provides and see if they are free to meet with you in person. So these calls are shorter and more to the point.
2. Watch What You Say
Most salespeople use scripts, the good ones learn from the scripts but put their own twist on it so that the caller knows that they are genuine when they are doing the selling. Here are some things you can do to give the right impression to the prospect.
- Smile. Yes it is a cliche but it is only that for a reason. Smiling on the phone changes the tone of your voice and also changes the way it sounds to your lead on the other line. People can hear your smile and it makes you sound more trustworthy.
- Start your conversations with positive energy. Talk about how good the weather has been or if they have plans for the weekend. Do not complain about being busy or getting stuck in traffic. Keep the tone positive right from the beginning, this includes talking about competitors. Do not bad mouth the competition, instead if someone asks you about them show the customer how you stand apart from them without saying anything bad.
- Use positive labeling. When you give someone a positive label, it makes them want to live up to that label. Telling someone “you are one of my best customers” or “it is so easy to do business with you” makes them want to be more like that. So that person wants to be your best customer or make it easy to do business with them. Just remember you must be genuine with these labels, otherwise you will come off sounding fake and no one wants to buy from anyone that sounds fake.
3. Handling The Gatekeeper.
This is the person in your customer’s company whose job it is to make your life harder. Their express role is to block unwanted calls from getting to the decision maker. If you do not get past this person you will never make your sale so you better learn how to handle them.
First you should know the name of the person you want to speak to. There is nothing that will announce you are making a cold cold faster than hearing “Hi, I am looking to speak to your head of marketing.” There are so many ways to get a prospect’s name these days, the database you purchase should have it, LinkedIn or the company website are great resources too.
So the best way to get over the first hurdle is to be polite but authoritative when speaking to the gatekeeper. You should sound like you already know this person and they will be expecting your call. You would be surprised at how many times saying something like “Good morning, put me through to John/John Smith, thank you” works and you get put straight through.
The next question that causes salespeople to stumble is “can I ask what it is regarding?” There are different ways to approach this, but in general the less information you give the better. People who genuinely have a reason to call someone do not feel they need to justify themselves to anyone. So keep it brief like “I would like to discuss an upcoming project.” You have to be careful here so as not to make the person that is being connected think that they have a big new client when it is a salesperson on the phone, you would have lost that sales before it began. Another good reason is just by stating some of the benefits of your product as as, “I want to discuss how we can help increase the leads your business gets from your website.” It is very difficult for someone to say no to that.
4. Use A Headset
I know people will be asking what difference does it make to my customer how I am talking to them. The reason is very simple, people use a lot of non-verbal cues when they have conversations in person, these cues come from your facial expressions and body language. In order to convey those same expressions and meaning to those you are speaking on the phone with you need to have both your hands and face free for expression. I know that when I talk naturally I use a lot of hand movements, so when I talk on the phone my hands should be free to make these movements because they come across when I speak.
Headsets also let you be more comfortable and natural when you speak which translates over the phone and into your customers ears. If they feel that you are at ease when speaking they will be at ease as well.
5. Listen More
Sometimes a salesperson feels their job is to get all the information out of their heads (or their scripts) and down the phone to their prospects as fast as possible, this is a really easy way to put anyone off your call. They forget that this is a conversation, and by definition that means that it should be two ways.
Conversations should occur naturally so give your lead time to speak and to think on the phone. Having a genuine conversation with your prospect will help you to understand their pain points and tell them what about your product will help them solve them. Listening allows you to give proper responses to their objections which will hopefully alleviate their fears.
More importantly it will help you understand if this is the right person you need to speak to or if they are in a position to buy your product. Listening to your prospect empowers them and makes them feel like you are actually trying to solve their problem and will endear you to them significantly.
For some more advice on how to improve your phone calls check out these other articles