One of the challenges with telemarketing is you rarely get a chance to rescind a stupid statement.
Reps only have their words and tone of voice to interact and articulate important messages.
First things first before you even think about picking up your phone – do your research!
I am continually shocked at the lack of investigation completed by reps before making a call.
Research can include any number of items that will help you break the ice during your introduction.
These could be a company announcement about expansion plans; the launch of a new product line; the winning of an award; a major customer win (or loss); a recent acquisition.
All of these are excellent conversation starters.
Once you have your research completed, you can get on with the task of cold calling.
There are some best practices you should have when making your calls, and equally, there are many best practices for what not to say on your calls.
Here is a look at four things you should never say when cold calling — and some better alternatives.
“Do You Have a Minute to Talk?”
This is an everyday starter intended to put a prospect at ease.
However, it unintentionally gives the buyer an out from the call.
Some people believe it is good practice as your prospect may be in the middle of a meeting or on their way out the door.
However, if that is the case, they will tell you, and you can arrange a better time to talk.
Most people aren’t excited when they answer a sales call. Therefore, a question that allows for a simple “No,” and an exit from the conversation is unforgiving.
“Sorry to interrupt,” or equivalent openers, are also too apologetic to kick off an effort to ultimately sell value.
A better option is to say, “I’m sure you get a tonne of phone calls so let me make this very brief.” or “Thanks for taking my call, let me make this short for you.”
Then give your value statement of what you can do and follow it up with a question. Just make sure you keep your promise of making it brief!
This approach leads more assertively into your goals of building rapport and assessing needs.
“Do You Make the Decisions on Company Purchases?”
The point of this question is reasonable. You want to establish the role of the initial contact to avoid wasted time and potential redundancy.
However, many contacts are put off by this inquiry, leaving only bad results.
If the buyer is the primary decision maker, your question seems too direct or pushy.
If the purchaser isn’t involved at all or isn’t the economic decision maker, he could get offended because your question treats him as a means to an end.
You do need to identify the role of a contact soon to optimise selling process efficiency.
A more strategic question is, “Who along with you is involved in buying decisions?”
Or better yet, ask, “How does the buying process work in your company (or department)?”
Either of these questions should result in you learning what you need to know without alienating the contact.
“Are You Prepared to Purchase Today If I Can Show You Value?”
There are some industries out there that will sell over the phone which is why I’ve included this particular phrase.
Though assertive and inclusive of a value-oriented message, this question is too pushy and impatient.
Go into the sale believing that you can win the opportunity by showing value.
However, this question at the start of the selling cycle projects the wrong image in the buyer’s mind.
Start with a customer-centric attitude and focus on building rapport.
Then, ask needs-based questions to uncover the buyer’s central problem and deep pain points.
By showing genuine interest and empathy, you prepare the customer to hear your on-point recommendation of a solution.
“Give Me a Call If You Change Your Mind.”
This statement is a common final message after a buyer says, “No” or goes down the dreaded “Send me some information to keep on file” route.
However, it isn’t assertive, and it doesn’t do much to impress a buyer looking to find a confident salesperson.
Instead, ask, “When I call you again in a month (or two or three), what do I need to research or show you to convince you that our solution is a good fit for your needs?”
This question communicates your intent to stick with the opportunity and allows you to gain insight as to how to improve your approach the next time.
It also invites them to talk further about their concerns or issues they may be having, giving you valuable information you may not know.
Cold Calling Techniques
In many cases, statements or questions that are too impersonal or too aggressive get B2B sales reps into trouble.
There are three golden rules to successful cold calling:
- use a customer-centric approach to ask questions and offer insights that project confidence,
- show a desire to gain understanding and,
- articulate value unique to the buyer’s needs.
Ensure you cover these when you are speaking to anyone for the first time.
People buy from people they trust, and it is imperative that you leave a good first impression, giving you an opportunity to move further up the value chain over time.