Many people shiver just thinking about their next “cold call”. And it’s not surprising, it’s cold, it’s freezing, it’s… all right, all right, let’s just agree it’s not the most comfortable thing you can do when marketing your services to local businesses.
While some who have failed at it over and over again may consider it to be a waste of time, it can work very well, when you know what you’re doing.
Having that rock-solid script will make all the difference in the effectiveness of your calls. It will keep you from wandering all over the place during your conversation and staying on target.
1. Never “Cold Call”
Create a prospecting campaign that includes a prospecting call, not a solo “cold call”.
Making a random cold call on Monday, and then another one on Thursday, is a recipe for disaster.
Instead, follow a prospecting campaign where you are making multiple touches using everything at your disposal. Emails, LinkedIn requests, letters, voicemails, carrier pigeons (OK maybe not that last one)…
Now you can call with reference to another touch point, such as, “Hi, I’m calling regarding the letter I sent you on…”
2. Script It As You Mean It
A script is an essential tool to keep you out of trouble and on the right path. However, this doesn’t mean it has to be a word for word script, especially as you get more experienced.
Instead, it will serve you more like a map or a template, rather than a recital.
What you want to have ready are your questions, some points of personalization, and a contingency plan if you get a question you didn’t expect. This will make you much more confident going in to the conversation.
3. Interruption As A Must-Have Action
When it comes to calls, interrupting is not impolite. You want to be constantly breaking the pattern of your prospects’ conversation. Why? Business owners receive calls all the time. They’ve developed a response pattern. This pattern, in most cases, has a goal of getting you off the phone.
This is why it’s important to break that pattern and ask questions they do not expect.
“Hey how are you?” vs “Hey Jack, how you been?” – notice the difference? This alone can drastically increase your chances of landing the appointment.
4. Short Opening
If the prospect gets the idea that you don’t know who they are, it’s all over. Google their business, use Linkedin Navigator and research their business. How many people are in the sales department? How many people work at the company? Where are they are located? Where did they go to college? Who is their favorite Avenger? 🙂
If you don’t want to spend cash on Linkedin Navigator, you can use their LinkedIn profile to get a lot of really valuable info.
6. Common “Pain Points”
This can very well be what tips the scales in your favor. Mention something along these lines of…”John, what I usually see, when dealing with companies like yours…” or say “with (name of their competitors)” and then mention up to 3 common “pain points” of these companies from the same market space.
This will help you focus on these pain points, which is what they truly care about, as opposed to your product or service, which hey don’t honestly care about at this point in the conversation.
This will show them that your focus is on them and the challenges they face in their business (not on you ‘getting the sale’), and that you actually care about their business and solving their problems.
Questions are your weapons of mass engagement here. You want to use the previously mentioned “pain points” and pull them into your conversation. It’s common for marketers to get nervous here, so they keep talking without aim, thinking they are on a roll.
Business owners will either just tune out, start doing something else and tune out, or try to end the conversation. This is why it’s important to put this point into your script template and follow it.
So you can say something along the lines of…”So Karen, what I typically hear is that clients like yourself are typically dealing with…(name the pain points)…does this ring true for you?” This will pull them into the conversation. Now you are in an actual dialog, as opposed to your own monologue.
8. A Clear Call To Action
This cannot be something “weak” like “Hey perhaps we can get together sometime” or “I’ll call you back later”.
Recommend to use a clear call to action. Go for something along these lines of…
“Why don’t we schedule a meeting where I’ll come to your office and we’ll talk further regarding this and I can share with you some best practices. Typically a meeting like this would take about 45 minutes. Does that make sense to you?”
They will either say “sure” or they’ll say “no”, but make sure you have a clear call to action in place.
9. Calendar Invitation
Every single call that has a positive outcome has a calendar invite coming from you to them. This is basic but so important. So after your clear call to action, mention that you will be sending them a calendar invitation.
Just something along the lines… “You know what Karl, I’m going to be sending you a calendar invite. You should get it in the next few minutes, and all the details for our meeting will be included…just wanted to make sure you are on the lookout for this. Sounds good?”
They accept that you will be sending it, and now you’re scheduled in their calendar. This approach will make it a lot less likely for them to cancel your meeting.
Bonus Tips: Dealing With The “Gatekeeper”
1. Avoid Them Altogether
There seems to be a common concern on how to get passed the so-called “gatekeepers”. You know…the secretaries and receptionist who ask about the nature of your call 🙂
There’s actually no need to deal with them… just go around them!
You can do this by calling at times when the gatekeeper isn’t actually in the office.
They are usually a “nine to fiver”. They’re typically an administrator who is not dealing with a tremendous amount of responsibility. They usually do not have bottom-line responsibilities. And, because of the way they are compensated, and the type of job they have, they’re typically not in the office before 8:30 in the morning, and they’re usually not there after 6:30 at night. They’re also not there on Saturdays. But you know who most likely is? Your prospect, the business owner.
Call your prospects early. Call them late. Try catching them at the weekend. You might be amazed at how many times you can actually just avoid the gatekeeper altogether, and get through to the decision-maker at a time when the decision-maker has a lot less going on.
So this is actually a 2 in 1. Not only are you avoiding gatekeepers, because there are fewer distractions early in the morning, late at night or even on Saturdays, which makes it a much better time to contact your prospect.
2. Be Firm
Let’s pretend that we couldn’t avoid the gatekeeper for one reason or another. The first key idea is that you need to be very firm when speaking with a gatekeeper.
Remember, put yourself in the mind of a typical gatekeeper… they usually have two competing responsibilities.
1. They don’t want to let through a salesperson. They want to keep them all out.
2. But they also don’t want to keep out the right person.
Sometimes the CEO is receiving a call from a person that is very important to their business. So the gatekeeper gets very nervous not to accidentally keep out that important contact. Use this to your advantage. Keep them on their toes.
A typical salesperson is going to be really friendly, very polite and gentle when talking to a gatekeeper. Be the exact opposite! Don’t be rude, but be firm and authoritative.
So next time you get a gatekeeper on the phone, rather than saying: “Hey John Doe here calling for Jerry Seinfeld.” in a fluffy, friendly manner…
Instead, just be firm and to the point, almost as if you are returning the call and it’s a bit of a nuisance to you. “Yes, John Doe calling for Jerry Seinfeld.”
This approach is going to make the gatekeeper think to themselves “Oh wow, this sounds like an important person…maybe I should put them right through.”
3. Be Vague
If you’re calling high-level prospects, these gatekeepers are going to be pros and ask a lot of questions. You need to be prepared for those questions.
A typical question might be: “May I ask where you’re calling from?” Now if you respond with: “Oh, I’m calling from (name of company)”, it’s game over.
So instead, answer the question, but in a vague way that’s going to throw them off a bit. So, next time the gatekeeper asks, “Where are you calling from?” simply mention the city you’re in. The goal is to let them fear you’re the right person.
Never be rude or mean because these are nice people and they deserve respect. But in order to get through to your prospect, it’s necessary to play the game. Let them always be nervous that you are the right person.
So there you go…the above tips will turn you into a calling pro in no time!