Ask any salesperson what part of selling they most dislike, and this will probably be their answer: cold-calling.
No matter how capably trained they are to be consultative and customer-focused, some salespeople resist creating a pipeline of prospects receptive to cold calls. But that’s still an important part of sales prospecting.
Why cold-calling is so disliked
Here are the major reasons why salespeople dislike cold calling:
- Lack of control. Nowhere in the selling process does an average salesperson experience less of a sense of control than in their cold-calling efforts.
- Fear of being invasive. They send the wrong message because they don’t know how to create a provocative, credentialing opening.
- Cold calling the wrong prospects. To some salespeople, creating a cold call pipeline means little more than assembling a list of companies and/or prospects who fit the right demographic. They try to concentrate on prospects who are in the market for the products or service they sell. In a sense, they’re using a needle in the haystack approach.
What cold-calling research shows
Huthwaite’s** research establishes that prospects must meet one of three conditions before they can be considered good candidates for cold calling:
- The prospect demonstrates urgency about a situation that the salesperson can address.
- The prospect expresses dissatisfaction or defines a need to be addressed.
- The prospect demonstrates that the salesperson may have something to address dissatisfaction or meet a need.
Start with value
Great prospectors develop a message rooted in one of two value-creating methods:
- Uncover an unrecognized problem. Help customers understand their problems, issues and opportunities in new and/or different ways.
- Offer an unanticipated solution. Help customers arrive at better solutions than they would have arrived at on their won.
Develop a good opening message
A good opening message demonstrates that the salesperson may have an interesting perspective on something about the prospect’s business.
Here a six tips for developing a good prospecting message:
- Be provocative vs. informative. Have you ever noticed how movie trailers are designed? What you see in previews is just enough to tantalize. Awful movies often have interesting trailers. Salespeople should keep this in mind when constructing a written or spoken message. The idea is to provoke interest, not to lecture or inform. It’s usually not a good idea to have the prospecting message do the selling. Successful prospecting means only that a legitimate dialogue with a potential sales opportunity has begun.
- Be digestible. Whether the prospecting medium is voice or written word, it’s important that the message be short, to the point and digestible by the prospect in a matter of moments. If the message is too dense or takes to long to read or understand, even the cleverest message will go unheard.
- Create value. It’s a good idea to select one of the two areas (i.e., the unrecognized problem or the unanticipated solution as the theme of a prospecting message.
- Establish rapport. Studies show that opening a cold call successfully depends 65% on the rapport you establish with the prospect and only 35% on your product or service. Unless you get the prospect’s attention quickly, the best product or service won’t result in a sale.
- Set clear goals. You become invaluable to your prospect when you show that you understand his or her problems and goals, and have the ability to help meet them. It’s your job to point out the relative advantages of your product or service, and how it will help prospects solve problems.
- Analyze all aspects of your competitors’ offerings. How satisfied does the prospect seem to be with the present supplier? This perspective can be useful in arriving at a more objective measure of strengths and weakness, rather than just relying on simple, point-by-point comparisons. Understand the objectives and strategy of the prospect’s current supplier. It’s not enough to think only about how to convert a prospect to a customer. You also have to think about winning the battle with the present supplier.
Perseverance is critical
Developing the ability to persevere is the most critical element of cold calling. Once you’re identified problems, back your solutions with persistence and determination.
Don’t even consider the possibility of failure. Your ability to persist is what it takes to overcome the most difficult obstacles in cold calling. Studies show that the longer you persist with a cold call the more likely you are to succeed.
**Huthwaite is one of the world’s leading sales performance improvement organizations. Founded on scientifically validated behavioral research, its methodologies help companies develop customized sales performance improvement and coaching programs to drive business results.