I’m here to tell you that cold calling can be one of the most effective ways to meet new prospects. And a whole lotta fun.
I know, I know. Most sellers eschew cold calling, preferring instead to network, get referrals, golf, meet face-to-face.
Did you ever ask yourself why?
We can think historically: Dale Carnegie, in How to win friends and influence people published in 1937, told us to meet prospects in person (and his choices then were….. were what?). We can think about trying to ‘get through’ the gatekeeper. We can think about trying to gather information or pitch product with no ability to understand or share personal expressions on a phone.
So let’s say we do our networking, getting referrals, golfing, and meeting in person. What does it give us? Sadly, we’re just making ourselves feel better because it doesn’t help us close more deals. Indeed, until or unless a prospect has managed their behind-the-scenes systems (culture, environment) issues and gets buy-in at all levels, nothing will happen whether they need us or like us.
The bigger problem is how to help buyers manage those off-line issues, because until they do, our sterling personalities are immaterial: If we shift our focus – and our skills – from making a sale to helping manage the internal decision issues, we can use the phone effectively AND make a sale in at least half the time.
WHY ARE WE CONNECTING?
Let’s begin with the question: Why are we attempting to make contact?
If we are trying to sell, to push a product, to attempt to influence with our personal charm, then I agree; cold calling sucks.
But if we are trying to help buyers make a buying decision, cold calling is wonderful. Remember that Buying Facilitation™ employs a totally different skill set than sales, with a different outcome. We are actually employing a decision facilitation skill set to the off-line portion of the buying decision, and then employing our sales skills.
Given the space we’ve got on a blog post, I’ll give you a simple example.
I read about California Closets in the late 1990s and wanted to have them deliver Buying Facilitation™ throughout their franchises. I did some research, and found what I later discovered to be a ‘bad’ number – but at the moment I called, it turned out to be a lucky error. A man answered:
SDM: Hi. My name is Sharon-Drew Morgen, and I’m an author and developer of a new selling model. This is a sales call. Is this a good time to speak?
EL: No. It’s terrible. But I’ll give you 5 minutes.
SDM: I can call back. It’s only a sales call and I don’t want to disturb you. We didn’t have an appointment.
EL: Let’s start now and we can finish later. I already like your style. How can I help you?
SDM: Thanks. And at any point you want to end, we can stop and pick it up at another time. I was wondering how you are currently adding new sales skills to the ones you’re currently training your sales people and designers.
EL: Are you using the model you’re teaching? Because if you are, I’m buying. I’ve been looking for a new model for 2 years, and from what I’m hearing, I’m happy. How ‘bout if I get the heads of Sales and Training on a call next week, and think about doing training, or training our trainers at the end of January. Call me in a week at this number: XXXXX. Nice job.
And he hung up. We’ve been working together since then. And this was a cold call. Of course, I did get a bit lucky. But if I had used conventional sales techniques, these folks would not have been my clients – even if I had managed to get in front of them.
DON’T USE YOUR BODY AS A PROSPECTING TOOL
When I understand that my job is to be in a ‘We Space’ (the conversation was all about him) and truly serve by helping discover how to move toward excellence, it doesn’t matter if I’m in person or on the phone, because there is no manipulation or personal persuasion tactics. Also, the focus of the entire call at this early stage is about the internal issues they need to manage (that a seller can never be a part of) within their system. It’s not about their need, or our solution. Sales does that way too early.
In the Buying Facilitation™ model, every interaction, every comment, is based on helping buyers traverse their off-line buy-in issues. I understand that my solution can only be purchased AFTER buyers have managed the needed buy-in. And the telephone is a very handy tool. Of course, once the buyer manages their off-line decision issues internally, and their decision team discovers it’s ready to change and add a new solution, it will need to know more about our solution. THEN we can go visit them, and the entire Buying Decision Team will be there, with us on it. Try it. You might like it 🙂
So focusing on each cold call as if it were a puzzle, and you are the puzzle master who is not in front of the puzzle, but whispering in the ear of the person doing the puzzle, you can have fun. You won’t have to try to get an appointment, you’ll save travel time and funds, you’ll find a whole lot more prospects, and when you do go to the client site, it will be to sign the contract.
Check out my new book: Dirty Little Secrets: why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell and what to do about it. Read two free chapters.
Or have a look at my book Buying Facilitation: the new way to sell that influences and expands decisions. Click here for two free chapters. It will teach you how to understand and manage the route through the internal decision process. Will it help you make a sale? Maybe. Maybe not. But it sure will help you make a client.