Many field reps are uncomfortable using the telephone when cold calling. Here are some tips to make the process of cold calling by phone easier and more effective.
1. It’s NOT a numbers game, it’s a results game
You’ll often hear this about cold calling especially from you boss: “It’s a numbers game.” Translated it means you have to make a zillion calls. No way. Don’t believe them. Telephone cold calling is not about quantity, it’s about results.
Results come from smart tele-prospecting, not mindless dialing. Being smart means have the skills and techniques to make the most of the dials you make. It means learning new processes and using job aids to convert more prospects into leads. It means being good at cold calling.
2. Use a verbal GPS (call guide)
A verbal GPS is a written ‘map’ to help guide your cold call. Like a GPS, enter your destination (your primary objective), your starting point (your opening statement) the sites you want to see along the way (your secondary objectives) and the route you want to take to get there (your key questions, the key points you want to make).
Put this information on a green sheet of paper so that it sticks out on your desk or wall. Look at it before you call. Use it during the call to keep you on track. The mere process of writing these items down will increase you success rate by a minimum of 20%.
3. Script – yes, script- your opening statement
Most field reps would rather undergo a root canal than use a script. Instead of a script, field reps tend to ‘wing it’ and justify their behavior by saying, it sounds more ‘natural.’ The net result is that the cold call feels like a root canal.
If you were going to make dozens of cold calls to similar prospects regarding your products or services, why would you try to ‘wing’ it every time? Script your opening statement so you have the very best mix of words that entices the prospect to listen further.
4. Avoid Shooting Yourself in Both Feet by Avoiding these Killer Phrases
Cold calls quickly become lame when field sales reps inadvertently shoot themselves in both feet by using two killer phrases. The first phrase is “How are you today?” In cold calling situations, the vast majority of prospects perceive this phase as trite and insincere. It instantly puts the prospect on guard; makes them skeptical and suspicious. Just eliminate it from your vocabulary.
The other killer phrase is “Did I catch you at a good time?” While polite, it gives your prospect a fast and easy way to ditch you. Instead, use this phrase, “If I caught you at a good time, what I would like to do is ask you a few questions to get a feel for your situation and to determine if we might be able to … (list a benefit).” The prospect has the definite sense that permission was asked but the real question was not if he had the time but rather could questions be asked.” Big difference.
5. Know When and When NOT to Leave a Voice Mail – and Avoid Call Display
If you are never going to call this prospect again, leave a message. You have nothing to lose. Script – yes script- your message ahead of time and be prepared to leave it. If you are planning to recycle the list a few times, don’t leave a message. It warns them you’re coming. They use call display to screen your calls. Hang up. Take three or four shots at getting the client live.
6. Anticipate Knee Jerk Objections
The majority of prospects are not sitting back and waiting for a call from a sales person. They are typically working and your call is an interruption. Many prospects will toss out an objection out of reflex not unlike what happens when a doctor taps your knee with a rubber hammer.
Here’s what to do. List the typical knee jerk objections on a sheet of paper so you’re not caught off guard. When you hear an objection follow the “EIA Process.” First, empathize. Next, ignore the objection completely. It’s not legitimate anyway. Third, calmly ask ‘one quick question.’ (Example: Prospect: “I am busy right now.” Rep: “I understand completely…Brian, while I have you, one quick question: do you…)
Amazingly, over half the prospects will answer your question and most they will continue to answer additional questions simply because their reflexive reaction has settled down.
7. Ruthless Disqualify Your Prospects
Have your key qualifying questions prepared and get to them right off the bat. You do this to determine if the prospect is worth YOUR time. If not, ruthlessly disqualify them and move on to greener pastures.
8. Script- yes, again, script- your offer
For most sales reps, the offer is a request for an appointment. At this point in the sales cycle, your product is the appointment. Therefore, script your request for their time word for word. Explain what the appointment will entail. Most importantly, list the benefit the client will get by granting you thirty or so minutes of time. By having this prepared ahead of time you won’t fumble the opportunity.
9. Forget About Sending Literature
Prospects can make mince meat of your efforts by getting you to send, fax or e-mail literature. This smokescreen objection is a classic, if not polite, way to blow you off. Don’t fall for it. If you do agree to send marketing material, get commitment by asking for a specific follow up date and time (e.g., Thursday at 3:15). No date and time, no literature. Move on.
10. Make your call like an Academy Award Winner
The telephone is an audio medium. Your tone, rate of delivery and volume of your voice accounts for about 80% of the message. Too fast, too slow, or too monotone will destroy your cold call in less than ten seconds. What this really means to you is that you need to practice your opening statement so that it flows naturally. You need to practice following your verbal GPS so you can transition your prospect through the call. Practice your ‘offer’ as if you’re Brad or Angelina. Get your words and tone down pat. Do that and you’ll be a tele-prospecting star.
Telephone cold calling for field sales reps can be easier and more effective by simply bearing these ten tips in mind. Implement them and watch your success grow.