Cold calling: Avoid all myths to master the art!
Marshal, May 9, 2017
Crackling the perception
Art is not for everyone and so is cold calling! But you too can master it.
In today’s multifaceted marketing arena, cold calling no more seems to be effective. As stated, cold calling technique has lower response rates, it tends to put off prospects and demoralizes sales people when not done right. Prospects and customers have changed drastically over the years; they expect personalization, real time support and value.
Most often the ones who believe that cold calling is dead are the ones who have either experienced a failed strategy or are scared to get on the phone and make those calls.
Although many studies, surveys, polls and industry reports tend to declare cold calling dead, but the fact remains that, cold calling is still considered as one of the most effective techniques in B2B sales and marketing.
Cold calling is that unsung hero who has a stereotyped image. If you are able to delve that picture in your mind you’ll vision a telemarketing call from a person with an accent, scripted and clueless as to what they’re selling, and they are incapable of answering a question. It’s a sad image, but that’s what most perceive of cold calling. A recent survey revealed that 80% of B2B marketers believe that scripted conversations fail to engage.
Today 80% of the buying takes place even before your sales person can get involved in the process. Prospects expect salespersons to approach them with confidence and familiarity. They should know the prospect’s market plans, pain points, and most importantly, what value they as a salesperson bring to the table. Sales teams that win use personalized, human sales approach. You impact your prospects by learning up about them before you call, and stand out with a human touch.
How it helps
Cold calling is traditionally an early stage in the selling process. Cold calling typically refers to the first telephone call made to a prospective customer. It is an important stage and technique in the selling process. Cold calling abilities are also useful in many aspects of business and work communications outside of sales activities and the selling function. Successful cold calling – including the effectiveness of methods and techniques – essentially relies on your own attitude. It can help sales teams to:
- Identify and create new business opportunities
- Become indispensable as someone who can make things happen
- Build (your) personal reputation beyond the job title and grade
- Establish relationships and respect (for you) beyond normal sales responsibilities
You cannot rely on cold calling like a crutch, but leverage it like a support to connect with prospects. Cold calling is when you ring your prospect for the first time. It’s not as easy as calling someone from your cell phone. Prior to every cold call it’s crucial for sales professionals to:
Research about the prospect thoroughly before the call
Create a natural reason to call and engage
Account based selling: narrow the list to qualified prospects
Imagine you meet a potential prospect in one of the B2B events. The prospect shows interest in your product or solution. After a month he/she doesn’t even remember you and once again you start with your introduction.
Isn’t this complicated?
Cold calling is one of the most powerful techniques of B2B marketing. In 73% of cases, the first person to contact the buyer is going to be the person who cracks the deal. You can either be proactive or go after the business, or you can wait for businesses to come to you through your website or other channels.
Two-way conversations are still one of the best ways to create demand. But the bad news is that cold calling is still a complicated process for a vast majority, but that’s also good news in a way. If it’s difficult for you, it’s difficult for your competition as well. If you can master it you can enjoy the perks of being a part of a successful minority.
What makes cold calling so complicated?
We are all individuals with different thought processes. Hence it’s difficult to know a person on the other end and more so over a telephone. You cannot follow a single approach for cold calling. And if you do, chances are that you might fail. Besides this, timing is also an important aspect of cold calling. There’s always a chance that you might call your prospects at the wrong time. To top this they might not even be ready to buy in the next 3-9 months. Things can get messy and you might get a negative response, but the same prospect after a week or more may be receptive to your call. That’s why it’s crucial to re-evaluate each lead before you consider them as dead.
Cold calling strategies
An effective cold calling strategy is to look at it as a multi-step process that can be leveraged according the type of prospects. According to top marketing gurus, here are few points that buyers expect
Solution to the problem
It’s not surprising that trust tops the chart. But the question is how can you build trust over a time span of just 15 secs over a call? How do you develop trust? One way to do it is to display your knowledge about the brand. By doing this you’ve managed to build a positive image in their mind. You can influence with impact by providing useful information. Today 50% of buying takes place before your sales team even gets involved. What’s important now is reaching people before they hit the internet. You need to “frame the discussion” by engaging the customer before they become a bidder.
Here are 8 ways to excel during cold calling
- Stop thinking about making the sale and closing the deal.Focus all your energy in understanding the prospect. Take your time to delve whether it qualifies as a lead and then pass it on to the next level. Don’t try to force or persuade the caller.
- Start helping rather than sharpening your pitch. You are a part of an era that demands personalization. Be sensitive while dealing with the prospects challenges, issues and hurdles. Get a clear picture and assist the prospects to benefit from the right solution. It can be one of your solutions or services or guide the customer towards the right direction.
- Know about your prospects but stop chasing them. Selling is an art; maintain dignity throughout the process. Take pride of your work, be honest and strive to become a helpful person instead of being a typical sales man.
- Think beyond your contact lists.Focus on how to make a true connection with each prospect – this naturally helps build trust – think about and discuss their issues, not yours.
- Focus on building trust.In fact this should be your primary goal and not sales. Even if the lead doesn’t qualify, you can successfully build long term rapport with the prospects. Who knows you may be his/her next choice.
- Maintain transparency and eliminate all complications from the sales process. By doing this you come closer to an honest and truthful conversation between your prospects.
- Stop acting like robots.Change your tone from the typical ‘sales talk’ to a natural tone. Emphasize on making connections. Use phrases like ‘would you be open to’ instead of ‘would you be interested in’. With this you immediately set yourself apart as someone who is patient, open minded and willing to listen.
- Emphasis on understanding your prospect’s problems comprehensively. Try winning their trust and let them feel they are well ‘understood’ by you. It will be easier for you to really feel that you know and care about their concerns.
Cold calling scripts
Although you’re recommended not to use scripts, there are times wherein you may be at a loss of words. Scripts are for starters who are at an early stage of learning this art. The experienced ones go script less – they sound more genuine. But this is only possible when you know your business and the prospects business in and out.
Here are a few common responses of buyers and how you can manage them in a positive manner –
- “We don’t have any budget left this year.”
The objection about no money means your buyer has cash flow issues. Either give the buyer alternate options to secure budget or arrange a follow up call on when they get the fund issue sorted. Send a calender invite as a reminder
- “I don’t want any engagements in contract.”
Cash flows and fund issues are common. Assist your buyers with monthly or quarterly payment schemes instead of asking the buyer to commit more.
- “We’re already working with [vendor x].”
A prospect working with a different vendor doesn’t mean that you as a vendor don’t have any chance to sell. Sometimes these situations are a blessing in disguise.
It allows you to gain more knowledge about customer pain points, their expectations from the services and so on.
- “I can get a cheaper version of your product somewhere else.”
These are competitive situations, where in the customers can also play with you to drive discounts. In another scenario the customer may be under the impression that a similar cheaper product can do the same thing as yours.
If it’s the first, lure your customers with discounts and offers. If it’s the second, emphasis on the value that your product will offer, not the price.
- “I’ve never heard of your company.”
Don’t treat this as an objection rather like a request for more information. It gives you an opportunity to speak and give a quick summary about your proposition.
- “We’re doing great in x area.”
If you hear this objection, do a little more qualification. What are your prospect’s goals? How much progress has been made?
- “I don’t see what your product could do for me.”
Another request for information packaged as an objection. Reconfirm the goals or challenges you’ve discussed and explain how your product can solve specific problems.
- “We don’t have the capacity to implement the product.”
This objection can be a deal-killing roadblock. Depending on what product you sell, it’s possible your prospect will have to add headcount or divert resources to fully take advantage of your offering, and if they truly aren’t able to, you might have to disqualify.
Another tactic is to assess your prospect’s current duties and day-to-day activities to see what job responsibilities could potentially be eliminated or made easier by your product.
- “Your product is too complicated.”
Find out if your prospect is confused about specific features or if the product is indeed over their head. If it’s the latter, you might have to disqualify. But if it’s the former, remind your prospect that they’ll have help from your customer service team should they choose to buy and that you’ll be on hand to answer any implementation questions they have.
- “Your product doesn’t have x feature, and we need it.”
Try suggesting a supplementary product that can be used in conjunction with yours. But if that specific need is a must-have and your product can’t solve it, your prospect might not be a good fit. Time for you to disqualify and move along to find better opportunities that your product is apt for
- “We’re happy the way things are.”
Maybe everything really is going smooth, but more likely that your prospect is having some sort of challenges that he/she may not want to address at the moment. Do some background checks to determine if they’re facing any problems you can solve, then move forward or disqualify based on their answers.
- “I don’t see the potential for ROI.”
This is a sign that you’ll have to prepare a formal pitch for either your contact or his/her managers. Get your number game right, either use internal numbers provided by your prospect or customer case studies. Nothing sells quite like hard numbers.
- “I’m busy right now.”
Of course your prospect is busy — almost everyone is. Simply put forward that you’re not looking at giving a full-blown presentation as such. Just manage to have a quick clarification about whether or not a longer discussion about your product would be a good fit at their organization.
- “Call me back next quarter.”
Prospects will often say this to dissuade you from pursuing a conversation. But try not to let them off that easily — it’s a vague brush-off uttered in the hope that you will vanish. Be confident to ask, “What’s going to change next quarter?” just to understand their motivations about brushing you off.
Objections are an inevitable part of sales. Some are legitimate reasons to disqualify, while others are simply an attempt to brush you off. But as long as you’re familiar with common objections and equipped to answer them, you’ll be able to distinguish between prospects who have the potential to be good customers and prospects with whom you need to part ways.
Cold calling is a powerful lead generation tactic and a cost-effective way to generate qualified leads. If utilized strategically, cold calling can provide high lead generation ROI. In a serious environment of the B2B market, the impact of human conversation and connection can provide highly positive results. After all, companies and brands are owned and managed by people. B2B cold calling is more than just talking, convincing and selling to prospects. It’s more importantly about listening, understanding, discovering and providing relevant information to take customer relationships and prospect interactions to the next level.
Lake B2B has been at the forefront of data management services, list solutions, and customer data insights. We provide data centric solutions to a wide range of business-to-business companies. Our focus over the years has been on improving the efficiency of marketing campaigns, driving more revenue, and increasing profitability of sales and marketing teams in organizations. We would love to hear about what you think of cold calling as a technique to generate quality leads.