How To "Cold Call" - Top Tips for Successful Telephone Sales!
Insider Top Tips for successful telemarketing and new business calling from a market leading expert..
Insider Top Tips for successful telemarketing and new business calling from a market leading expert..
“Firstly we should start by acknowledging that the whole concept of “cold calling” is an outdated premise...and usually leaves people with a cold shudder, regardless of whether they are the recipient …or the intended caller. It conjures up images of teams of parasitical pre-programmed call centre drones, mindlessly badgering poor unsuspecting victims into wasting bags of cash on rogue schemes and dodgy products.
In reality, as long as you offer a service that holds a genuine benefit to your customers, what we are really talking about is the ability to pick up the phone and start having a productive conversation.. in order to establish if your service might be of potential value to others. As such, it is much healthier to think of the activity as merely an extension of the art of communication. It should not be regarded as, and certainly should not be delivered in, an outdated hard sale or pressurised style. In fact, it is actually the ability to acknowledge that the benefits of the product or service you promoting are only a potential one, that separates the pushy sales person from the consultative business developer. Personally, I have little time for pushy sales people or (more commonly) managers, directors or business owners who believe that their sales staff need to be pushy or even presumptuous in order to be successful. With today's varied and savvy business decision makers, there really is no room for the arrogant assumption that a service should be bought by everyone a telephone sales person speaks to.
On the other end of the scale sits the fear factor – It is extremely common for many people who are otherwise extremely competent and confident business people (across all levels of seniority) to be simply too scared to pick up the phone. This is particularly true when the phone calls attempt to generate new business from scratch. With no training and a fear of rejection at the outset, brave attempts in this arena often have their will swiftly broken by the first no-nonsense recipient, sending the caller into a pit of despair and low self-esteem.
The first golden rule is to capture someone’s interest as soon as possible and justify your right to a conversation via a compelling and intriguing opening. This must also be coupled with the fundamental priority of sounding human and natural – (You MUST NOT sound like you have just spent the morning saying the same opening lines to fifty other people!) Think about what intrinsic value your product or service might offer and why it may be worth the person on the end of the phone having a conversation with you about it. Traditional telesales training teaches sales people to find a need, but this is often misinterpreted and very commonly over cooked. It’s no use setting out with a mission to ask endless questions to arm yourself with a million reasons and needs to justify why someone should buy your product, without coupling this with stimulating two-way conversation in the meantime. With the absence of compelling dialogue, the chances are you will have long since lost someone's interest, or gained their inevitable irritation, well before you get the opportunity to turn those long list of “need-find” answers into anything relevant within your dialogue."
As a starting point to Telephone Sales best practice, here are some key insider “Top Tips” for successful new business calling:
ENSURE YOU USE GOOD QUALITY DATA
Acquiring a cheap list of 2 million dodgy records from the internet may seem like a bargain at the time but the advantages will be short lived and negative beyond simply that of wasting time and effort. Calling dead lines, asking for out of date contact names or people who left (or died) 2 years hence will have a significantly negative impact both on the caller and, more importantly, on your business reputation. Always invest in good quality data, which has been recently called and verified. Otherwise you are making your mission several times more difficult before you even start!
EXPECT MORE "NO’S" THAN "YES’S"
No matter how proficient your phone manner, or how good the data you acquire is, no calling campaign will generate a Yes every time. Work out just how many customers you actually need per week or per month in order to make your efforts worthwhile. Then calculate your success initially in stages, such as 10 decent conversations or x number of appointments equals success. Don’t let a few “No’s” cloud your efforts. Just as importantly, never sound as though you expect to hear a “No” – or you will almost certainly get one!
AVOID SALES CLICHÉ!
I really cannot emphasize enough how important this is. People, and especially those making decisions in business, are NOT idiots. They do recognise waffle and cheesy sales tactics. Avoid them at all cost. Be original, natural, polite and consultative.
SET REALISTIC OBJECTIVES
Unless you have a simple offering that is usually sold in one call, make the purpose of your call simply to obtain an appointment or commit to an action following your initial discussion, rather than an in-depth specialist discussion or commitment to buy. This will make your calling efforts less time consuming and more productive. In addition, customers who perceive that they are not ready to use a service right away may often still agree to an initial discussion or meeting if there are no strings attached. History shows that initially tentative customers very often push forward their decision to buy after a productive meeting face to face or after a more in-depth appointed specialist discussion. An official appointment gives you the opportunity to build rapport, establish trust and show that you are willing to invest your time in understanding the potential client’s business. It also affords you the opportunity to visually demonstrate the value and merits of your service and bring to life your offering via a visual presentation.
PERSONALISE YOUR APPROACH.
The more relevant you can make your call to the particular business or person you are calling, their situation, company status, company size or type of business; the more likely they are to be interested and engaged in what you have to say. Make sure you take the time to get off on the right foot from the start with a personalised approach. If you are calling a business who mentions on their website that they have just expanded the business or taken on a new office, then adapt your approach by acknowledging their situation or by establishing why this makes your offering of particular relevance at this juncture.
BE SURE TO EXPLAIN YOUR OWN BUSINESSES USPS (UNIQUE SELLING POINTS)
Whether it is the price you charge, your customer service levels, your speed and efficiency, SLAs or simply your value for money, you will have something that you feel you do better than your competitors. Ensure that you include this merit as a talking point. Relay this information in the context of how you have helped other businesses like theirs achieve certain objectives, so that they can understand the potential benefits being offered - rather than just the facts.
CONFIRM ANY ACTIONS IN WRITING.
On booking an appointment or meeting, follow this up with a confirmation or reminder in order to avoid missed appointments and provide your own full contact details. Keep the tone casual and friendly. Ask to take a direct email for the person you are visiting and drop a polite reminder, plus a brief snapshot of your services, prior to the date agreed.
ENSURE THAT YOUR OFFERING IS COMPELLING
When your business sends out a flyer or mailshot, the objective should be to capture the recipient’s attention in the first few lines in order to justify them reading on. The same rules apply in telesales. Consider offering an extra good reason to choose your services. Businesses are constantly receiving a barrage of contact from various companies promoting their services, so offering a particularly generous discount, complimentary advice or helpful consultation up front will invariably make your proposition more attractive and pay off in the long run.
UTILISE THE OPPORTUNITY TO KEEP IN CONTACT
If the customer is not ready to use your service, or has an alternative in place, then take the opportunity to diarise a call at a later date or ask them what would need to change for them to consider your service later. A repeat call referring back to the original contact can often generate good leads again later in the year and gradual on-going contact can help establish your business firmly in the company’s minds as a local point of contact. However beware of the classic palm-off when customers apathetically suggest that you “call back in 6 months.” This is normally simply a gift-wrapped “No” in an attempt to avoid the uncomfortable situation of a flat rejection! Qualify call backs by establishing whether there is a likelihood that contributing factors may result in the requirement for your services at a later date. Alternatively, ask if they can see themselves deciding to use your services if timing was not a factor.
KEEP GOOD RECORDS
Be sure to keep a track of all your results, appointments, call backs, sales and on-going business achieved via your efforts. This will help you understand your own conversion rates and apply them to any future calling plans to track your improvement. Observe if there are patterns within businesses who may be easier to contact at a particular time or day of the week etc. and apply this logic to others in the same industry. If someone asks for a call next month, then be sure to call them. Efficiency and reliability are key qualities for businesses selecting their service providers and taking the time to call when expected will help you build a better business relationship and win customers long-term.
MAKE LIFE EASIER FOR YOURSELF - LEARN LIKE A PRO
If the task of new business calling is feeling tough going, or less productive that you'd hoped, then the great news is that there is light on the horizon! Why not make life easier for yourself and learn from an industry leading expert. For a relatively minor investment you can now attend an open One Day Sales Master Class, hosted by a multi-award winning sales trainer, specifically designed to share the secrets of how to make new business calling feel much more like networking and promising a refreshing absence of hard sell tactics or cheesy sales lines! Perfectly geared up for the consultative professional, the course covers everything from navigating the "Gatekeeper," Objection & Rejection Handling through to How to make your Products or Services sound Compelling & Interesting and The Art of Call Backs. Attendees emerge feeling confident and enthused. The Business Support Initiative actually sponsor a number of these Master Classes throughout the year & offer discounted rates for attendees at prestigious venues across the South. CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT ABOUT THE NEXT COURSE
If you are really not comfortable doing the phoning yourself then hire, outsource or nominate someone else to book appointments on your behalf. Not everyone is born to be a telephone sales person and your time may actually be more productive spent out on appointments or doing what you do best as the expert in your industry. In addition, you can actually turn outsourced appointment making calls to your advantage. Having someone call on your behalf helps avoid long-winded specialist discussions on the initial phone call, keeping the prospecting calls brief and purposeful and setting an agenda for a proper specialist discussion with yourself thereafter on pre-qualified grounds. If you are using someone in house or a colleague then it is essential to incentivise the caller with a reward per appointment achieved if you want to maximise their success. They need to feel that it is as much in their interest to win clients as it is in yours!
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