The Insightly Insider: Smile and Dial, Don't let Cold Calls Get You Down
Cold calling… Ick.. No one I’ve ever met likes doing it, and no one likes receiving them. The stark reality though is that they are a necessary evil in business today. The good news is they can be turned into a positive if used in the proper way.
Hello everyone, my name is Brian and I’m the Senior Account Manager here at Insightly. Today I’m going to share some insights into cold calling and managing relationships today. This is just a culmination of the experiences I have had and shouldn’t be taken as the hard and steadfast way to manage your sales activities. Even though this cliché makes my stomach churn here it is anyway; sales is an art, not a science. If you have had different experiences, please share in the discussion! My goal is to provide a positive discussion where people can sharpen their skills and create a framework for becoming more successful in their profession.
Cold calls are often delegated to the lowest person on the totem pole, an intern, the kid right out of college, or maybe the poorest producing sales person on a team – which I think is a terrible practice. Do you really think the first voice that a new customer should hear is the droning monotone of an intern that has been tasked to make 60 calls a day? I don’t. Having been in that situation I know that it generally doesn’t reap the results you need. The good news is there are many ways to make a cold call more enjoyable for both yourself and the recipient.
Most calls land in voice mail, either on a person’s cell or on their desk phone, which brings me to my first point, keep it short and sweet. If I look at a message on my phone that is over a minute long from a number I don’t know – it’s getting deleted. Identify yourself, your company, and why you were trying to reach the person. Don’t pitch, don’t lie, and don’t be fancy, keep it short and to the point and let them know exactly why you called.
Keep your ultimate goal in mind as you are making your calls. I often found myself thinking “All I need to do is get through this list”, which is terrible! The goal is to discover if the person you are calling has a pain, need, and budget for what you are selling. Having this in mind will keep you more aware of what you are doing and why, rather than letting your brain switch to autopilot and becoming a robo dialer.
Above all, stay positive! This is easier to do for some of us than it is for others, but it will make the experience of the call better for both you and the person you are calling. Stand up when you make your calls, smile as you dial the number, put a mirror in front of you, make funny faces at the coworkers sitting near you – do anything that will keep you from speaking lethargically over the phone.
There is obviously more to it than this, but keep in mind, you are the voice that a person will associate your product with. Making it positive, keeping to short, and keeping it less monotonous on your end will benefit everyone. Successfully closing more calls translates to more sales - which might even lead to an earlier retirement!
Part of cold calling is luck and diligence. For every 10 messages I leave I typically get 1 person on the phone. When you do get someone on the phone remember to not slide into your message spiel! I remember when I first started making sales calls, I was calling on C-level contacts with almost no success. When I finally got someone on the phone, I choked hard. All that came out of my mouth was an incoherent noise, luckily he laughed and said ‘Go ahead and try it again son’. He, of course, didn’t purchase our product but I still remember the call to this day.
- Once you’ve closed your call and gotten someone on the line remember - keep it direct and professional. If you’re setting up an appointment to speak in the future, be sure to give the contact a few options rather than just a wide open range on possible times.
- If they do have time to speak with you, make sure to have your elevator pitch on hand and ready to go. Be sure to practice this before starting to make calls. If you’re reading from note cards for your pitch you probably need a bit more practice.
- If you’re taking orders, be sure to have you product knowledge ready to use.
I always try to find a point or topic that may or may not be directly related to the call. It can be something innocuous like location, their sports team, weather, or current event-- something you can mention the next time you speak with them on the phone. It’s always good to make note of your topics of conversation, both related and unrelated to your call within your CRM! Make a follow-up note for yourself so that you don’t forget them, because unless you have something very persuasive for them, they probably won’t reach out to you. It’s also good to follow up with a quick email with your contact details, and (if you were scheduling another time to chat) the date and time of your appointment.
So, you’ve done all the work to get someone on the phone, gave them your pitch, setup a meeting, and kicked off your sales process. This, in my opinion, is probably the hardest part of the process. Once you have them in your pipeline they can take different forms and each can be a little different. The worst thing you can do is to slip off their radar! Your contacts aren’t going to do your job for you and reach out to you, so it’s up to you to remember, or have your CRM remember for you.
Schedule a follow up, ALWAYS schedule a follow up for yourself. It doesn’t need to be anything major either. A quick phone call (which will probably end up a message) to just check in with them and see if you can provide any guidance or support is always a good option. Depending on the relationship I have with the contact, sometimes an email will be more appropriate.
If you are building a longer, more substantial relationship think about them as conversations, not as sales pitches. Keep it light and casual; maybe send them an article that pertains to something you discussed that was not sales related. Show them that you are invested in speaking with them and be sure to keep their goals in mind. Most importantly, be patient. Just because you want or need the deal to close by a specific date, it doesn’t mean they do. Some of the biggest deals I’ve closed have come naturally from letting the deal grow organically.
After you’ve closed the deal, don’t disappear! Stay in contact, check in with them every so often, even if they are being managed by another group on your team. Reaching out and making sure things are going well is one of the best things you can do to foster a relationship. If they need something more, they will come to you if you’ve grown the relationship properly.
Cold calling and managing relationships is a broad topic with many more aspects than we are able to cover today, people have written whole books about it! Remember that there is no replacement for getting on the phone and gaining experience yourself. Some methods work better for others, and there is always room to grow.
Does anyone have other tip or skills that they use to help with their cold calling initiatives?
Depending on your company relationship building and maintenance can be very diverse, any additional points would be welcome!