Adam Joseph, Global Director, Client Services, OneSource offers an insight into the process to help sales professionals convert cold calls into hot leads.
We’ve all had them. From out of the blue you take an unscheduled call from a complete stranger informing you why you should consider adopting a new service, buy a different product, or offering you something you never realised you needed.
What is it that makes us tell the sales person on the other end that you’re not interested and happy with your current arrangements, put the phone down or actually take a few minutes to listen because something that was said in the first few seconds of the conversation triggered a positive response?
1. Finding your angle
It goes without saying you need to have a strong reason to call in the first place. Cold calls need to be relevant, timely and immediately grab the attention of your prospect. Your research needs to have been carefully carried out before the call, not during it.
It’s essential to have relevant and timely business information that will provide a strong angle with which to engage new customers. A change of executive within the firm, a merger or acquisition or additional funding or grants are all examples of valuable information that may just give you that competitive edge, provide a way in and develop a meaningful conversation. Any conversation will then be given more credibility and allow you to feel more confident and positive about that initial contact.
Each cold call to a new prospect is in competition with every sales call made to that person. This makes it all the more important to figure out your angle beforehand. In today’s fast-paced business environment decision makers are more ‘time poor’ than ever before and will often look for excuses to end sales calls they feel are irrelevant.
2. Impact – every second counts
You have, on average, 15 seconds to create an initial impact on a cold call. Having the right tone, energy and enthusiasm can be crucial when trying to stand out from the crowd.
Making an impression during the first 15 seconds may well buy you a further 15 seconds during which questions can be asked, the conversation becomes easier and a more purposeful dialogue created. After this time, there’s a good chance that further actions can take place; a follow-up call at a more convenient time, exchange of address, a product demonstration or a meeting. Setting a positive and energetic tone from the outset will often determine how the remainder of the call progresses.
3. Adopting Positive Beliefs
Hesitation or reluctance to make a cold call can often be attributed to anxiety about what may happen during a call. Sales executives may experience FEAR – false expectations appearing real. You may be worried that you have nothing convincing to say, the decision maker you’re speaking to feels your call is irrelevant or the prospect you’ve finally managed to get through to simply puts the phone down – all rather unpleasant experiences which can knock your confidence.
Having a positive mindset will help you overcome this irrational fear and talk more confidently. Before each call, try telling yourself the following:
- This will be the most important call my prospect will receive today
- I am able to offer the best advice in my industry sector
- Everyone needs to listen to me because I deliver exceptional value
Adopting a positive approach and trusting the accuracy of your research and business information will allow you to remain confident and talk authoritatively during that first call.
4. Social Media
The phenomenal growth of social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have allowed sales professionals to take advantage of the huge reach these channels have and analyse how individual sites can be best used promote their offerings. Social media sites are a great way in which to build informal relationships with new customers.
Facebook and Twitter are useful from a marketing and branding perspective. Customers are buying in to you and not just your product or service. Building a positive rapport with new prospects and connecting with them using social media reveals your human side. It says a lot about who you are, what your values and interests are and what you have in common with the customer. Sites such as LinkedIn then provides a more professional arena in which to share B2B information, research new prospects, discover different groups your prospect is connected to and identify ‘commonality’ and relevance.
5. Call to action
How often do you use the exact same script to call prospects who were initially uninterested or busy? This can be one of the biggest mistakes sales professionals can make during the cold call process. You must try and gain some sort of commitment at the end of each call. Moving the call forward allows much easier and ‘warmer’ follow up calls to be made. What do you want to achieve at the end of a cold call? It may be a face-to-face meeting, a visit, a conference call or an invitation to a webinar. Whatever it is, the sales process needs to move forward.
Achieving a call to action will very much depend on timing. Hitting a new prospect at the right time is crucial. To do this you need to have business information informing you of, for example, a major reorganisation within a company, mergers, additional funding or executive changes. These present excellent opportunities for cold calling as changes within a company will be occurring.
There are a number of issues to consider before making that cold call. Building a relationship with new prospects and engaging in a lively discussion via social media is a useful way of establishing contact with new customers and finding common ground in order to develop an angle. Having a positive mental attitude and being able to deliver your message in a confident, energetic and enthusiastic manner will also help you get across those initial messages. This is crucial to then buying additional time in which you can focus on your call to action.
Possessing relevant and accurate business information will allow you to research new prospects, obtain accurate contact information about key decisions makers and time your cold call so that you have the best possible chance of exploiting your angle in. This will help avoid a frosty response, allowing you to maximise every opportunity with each cold call.
Adam Joseph is Global Director Client Services, OneSource. OneSource’s iSell SaaS solution provides unparalleled business information by prioritising prospects by target industry, company size, geography, social media, sales triggers such as new funding, executive changes and other critical events.
For more information contact OneSource: +44 (0)20 7382 8800 or firstname.lastname@example.org