There are two groups of people who cold call: telemarketing firms and professional salespeople. For telemarketing firms, cold calling is what they do. For professional salespeople, cold calling is one tool in an arsenal of many tools (or at least it had better be).
There are many reasons that salespeople don’t like cold calling, but in professional salespeople, it is rarely a fear of rejection. Instead, it is usually one of three reasons:
Lack of Preparedness
No one wants to do a job that they don’t have the proper tools, technology and training they need to succeed. The tools, the technology, and the training prepare you to succeed and build confidence. The opposite is also true; a lack of the proper tools, technology and training destroys confidence.
For cold calling this boils down to a couple of key factors. Do you have a written script? Do you have a written script for objections? Is the script something that you can be proud to use? Does your script make you sound like a professional whose clear goal is to create value for the customer? Or does it make you sound like a credit card company?
Lack of Ability to Differentiate
Professional salespeople need to differentiate themselves in a crowded field. This is difficult to do, and it is more difficult over the telephone–especially when the salesperson rattles off the same lines the prospect just heard from a competitor. Salespeople don’t like to make cold calls when they cannot differentiate themselves. There are a lot of gimmicks and tricks to differentiate that have been tried over the years, like fake polls and surveys, but all result in a lack of trust once the call turns into a sales call.
To differentiate yourself on the phone is difficult, but it has to be done and it has to be authentic. One great way to do so is to create value for the prospect.
Inability to Create Value for the Prospect
Professional salespeople succeed when they create value for their prospects and customers. When cold calling doesn’t provide you with the ability to create value for the prospect, it doesn’t feel like a worthwhile use of your time. There are sales organizations who have figured out how to deliver value before claiming value over the telephone. They still ask for appointments. But the calls are valuable for the prospect because they provide the prospect with something more than request for an appointment.
The reason telemarketing is so offensive to the people receiving the call is because it is so one-sided; it isn’t about creating value for them.
Conclusion: Poor Results and Call Reluctance
All of the above factors lead to poor results, and poor results lead to less activity. Nobody likes to do something that isn’t working. They like it even less when the person on the other end of their activity doesn’t like being the recipient of the activity. Correcting and improving the three factors above can make cold calling a more valuable tool in a salesperson’s arsenal.
Here are some questions you can use to start thinking about how you can improve your cold calling activity.
1. Do I have a great script for making calls? Is it professional?
2. Do I have written scripts for all of the potential objections I might receive on the call?
3. Does my script immediately make me different in the mind of my prospective customer? Does it make me sound like the last ten salespeople who called?
4. What could I say on a cold call that would differentiate me from my competitors? Who do I have to be to stand out from the crowd? How does the prospect know I am remarkable over the telephone?
5. How could I make a cold call a valuable use of my prospect’s time? What does the prospect need that I could use the cold call as an opportunity to deliver?
NOTE: I know I am certain to hear from the anti-cold calling crowd that there is no longer any reason to cold call. This is simply not true. Cold calling can and should be a tool in every professional salesperson’s toolkit, in addition to a host of other tools. When it comes to prospecting, the most important activity in sales, there aren’t any tools that should be discounted. Unless you have and endless supply prospects beating a path to your door, and you don’t, then cold calling is still a valuable and necessary tool.
I would note that salespeople like asking for referrals about as much as they like cold calling, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t effective or shouldn’t be used.
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