Although marketing promotion programmes do generate sales leads, it's rare that the phone is ringing off the hook sufficiently to fill your order book.
Cold calling is a great way to supplement incoming sales leads but it has it can be a tough hurdle for many salespeople.
When done strategically, cold calling is an effective and productive sales tool and one that has been proven to reap rewards. The key is to know how to implement cold calling, which takes just a little bit of planning and effort. Many salespeople see cold calling as extremely challenging. But by biting the bullet and diving into cold calling, you'll soon be eating your competition's lunch by picking up those extra sales.
Here are some pointers for immediate success:
Don't just start phoning for pounds. Be strategic in how you approach cold calling. Before you pick up the phone, determine what it is you want and need to achieve with the call. Are you just trying to identify the decision-maker in a sales process? Do you want to learn more about the prospect's purchase cycle? Do you want to get an appointment to make a presentation?
For each potential customer, write down your goal and how you're going to achieve it. That's 50% of being successful in cold calling: knowing what you are trying to get out of the call.
Customers love to talk about themselves and their problems. If you open with a question that makes it clear that you're trying to understand a customer's situation, you're sure to engage the prospect. Ask how he or she feels the industry is changing and what tools they need to keep pace. Ask what products they wish they had now to stay competitive in their industry. Notice it's all about asking, which means it's all about listening.
Cold calling is about collecting information so you can determine what the customer needs. He or she may say: "I just bought a new production system for that." But with probing, you can find out whether or not it's working for the company. By being genuinely interested in the success of the company you are reaching out to, you can gather valuable data on how ripe they are to buy your product.
Practice your opening statement
Like the old joke of how you get to Carnegie Hall, the way to master an opening statement is practice, practice and more practice. Don't fumble or trip yourself up over words. Be clear, precise, and most important of all, genuine.
Never – and we mean never – open with a question that can be answered with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’. You're giving the prospect the opportunity to just say ‘no’. Ask a question that requires a thoughtful answer and allows you to get to know the situation at hand.
Have a next step in mind when you make the call. Do you want to invite the prospect to a technology overview at your facility or come in to review their problem areas? Setting the stage for a collaborative working relationship is a great way to get a dialogue continuing from a cold call.
The fastest way to success at cold calling is to change your mind-set. Starting with these simple pointers, you'll soon be viewing cold calling as an opportunity to increase revenue and expand markets.