I’m here to tell you that cold calling can be one of the most effective ways to meet new prospects and close sales. And it’s a whole lotta fun.
I know, I know. Most sellers eschew cold calling, preferring instead to network, get referrals, golf, meet face-to-face or make friends through facebook and twitter.
Did you ever ask yourself why you don’t like cold calling?
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?). You can think about trying to ‘get through’ the gatekeeper. You 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 you do your networking, getting referrals, golfing, face-to-face meets and tweeting. What does it give you? Well, it gives you a connection, but it doesn’t necessarily help you close more deals: buyers still need to do their part to manage their behind-the-scenes systems (change management) issues and get buy-in at all levels, or nothing will happen whether they need you or like you.
The bigger problem than meeting someone who might buy is how to help buyers manage those off-line issues, because until they do, your sterling personalities are immaterial: If you start your conversations by shifting from making a sale to helping manage the internal buy-in issues, you 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 you begin by trying to understandneed, push product, or influence with your personal charm, then I agree; cold calling sucks.
But when you begin as a true consultant to help buyers manage the change of a buying journey, cold calling is wonderful. Buying Facilitation® is a change management/decision facilitation model I”ve been teaching globally for decades that employs a totally different skill set than sales, and helps buyers understand and manage the off-line portion of the buying decision. And then your sales skills are necessary. First manage change, then place the solution. Different way to think, right?
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 calland I don’t want to disturb you. We didn’t have an appointment.
EL: Let’s start nowand 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, or twitter or facebook, 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 prospects 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.