Cure for the Common Cold Call
A Prescription for Building Your Business
By Jerry Scher, Peak Focus LLC
How would you like to eliminate the dreaded cold call from your
life? You know, the sales activity that we all fear and dislike the
most (by the way, so do the customers). The sales activity that
brings out the best defensive skills our potential prospects have
to offer. If you are like most salespeople, you are most creative
when thinking of ways to avoid “cold calling.” After all, chances
are you’re going to be rejected or turned away. So, why waste the
time (yours and theirs)?
OK, enough talking. All those in favor, raise your right hand and
repeat after me, “NO MORE COLD CALLS. NO MORE COLD CALLS.
NO MORE COLD CALLS.”
Are you feeling better? Probably not! You are still responsible for
building your business; and there are only a few ways to do that.
You either have to find ways to motivate your current customers
to increase the business they do with you or find new customers.
Now, before I prescribe a course of action, we’d better diagnose
the problem. Remember, prescription without proper diagnosis
could lead to malpractice, so let’s “Analyze This.”
When you ask most salespeople why they cold call, they usually
say they are looking for new clients or they want to find out who
the decision maker is and meet them.
Sometimes, they say they want to
uncover a client’s needs so they can
present their product and hopefully
get an order. For many sales people,
cold calls are a required sales activity;
they make them only because their
sales manager tells them to. In fact,
if you view cold calling as purely a
numbers game – the more calls you
make, the more clients you’ll have –
then you’re making a big mistake. In
this day and age, when everyone is so
busy, the quality of your sales calls is
far more important than the quantity
of calls you make.
What’s your success rate, your closing
ratio? How often do you “cold call” a
prospect and walk away with an order?
Is this activity really cost effective? In
today’s business environment where
no one has enough time, the cold call,
as we know it, wastes everyone’s time
– yours and the client’s! Have you ever
asked a client how they feel about
“cold calls”? Try it sometime. They are
extremely expensive for everyone. By
the way, client’s don’t want you to sell
them anything; they want professional
sales consultants to assist them in
solving problems and buying what
they really need.
Do you know why most cold calls fail?
Well, to begin with, not everyone you
call on is truly a prospect. Too many
companies don’t meet your criteria
as a customer. Secondly, since most
salespeople are ineffective at asking
good probing questions and then
actively listening for 80 percent of the
time, they end up telling, whoops…
selling the prospects their product
line, instead of gathering the necessary
information . In other words, they
prescribe before they diagnose. Guilty?
Finally, most salespeople are in such a
rush to “close” or get an order(WIIFM-what’s
in it for me) that they view the
sales call as an event and attempt to
gain a commitment before they even
establish themselves as a value adder.
What a disaster!
It’s time for a major overhaul in your approach
to building business and gaining new clients.
To begin with, your mindset has to change, so
that you view gaining new clients as a process,
not an event. This process must integrate a
proactive, strategic approach that includes:
▲▲ Defining your expectations and goals.
▲▲ Profiling and targeting the types of clients you
can best serve.
▲▲ Pre-planning the business-building program
you will implement
▲▲ Developing a customer-focused mentality.
▲▲ Carefully defining the uniqueness that you and
your company represent to the marketplace.
A business-building program that incorporates this
philosophy leads to “warm calls” when you finally
visit with a prospect for the first time. Warm calling
requires that you follow a well-thought out game
plan that will generate more productive clients –
at an overall lower cost to you and your company.
This approach requires that you fully develop each
of the processes outlined in the prescription below:
▲▲ Define your sales expectations for a specified
period of time
▲▲ Identify the most suitable type of prospects for
your business, and target them.
▲▲ Develop a unique description of yourself,
your company, and your offering and learn to
▲▲ Create and communicate a market awareness
of your company through multiple strategies
such as targeted advertising, seminar
programs, and industry association activities.
▲▲ Research every target account prior to making
the initial contact. Utilize multiple sources such
as company web pages, industry contacts, and
▲▲ Determine the approximate amount of
potential business prior to meeting with
▲▲ Be prepared with a customer-focused
presentation if an accidental contact occurs;
prepare a great “Elevator Speech”
▲▲ Create a referral program from loyal existing
clients to generate pre-qualified leads that
meet your target client profile.
▲▲ Develop a third-party endorsement program
that will generate qualified leads. This is a
great opportunity to take those letters from
your waiting rooms and really put them to
work for your business.
▲▲ Develop a “voice mail strategy” that integrates
technology and good old-fashioned discipline.
▲▲ Remember – successful selling doesn’t happen
by accident; it is a carefully planned process.
The Warm Call
Once you have finally been invited to meet with
the decision maker, you still have a long way to
go before they become a client and a source of
revenue and income. Consider how many times a
day prospects meet with salespeople. Imagine how
many ineffective sales calls they have to sit through.
How many times have they heard, “We’re different”
or “I can show you how to save money and increase
profits?” Unfortunately, most salespeople talk about
being customer-focused; but clients will tell you only
a handful meet the challenge. They claim that they
add value; but they don’t offer anything unique and
valuable to the client. Just think of the opportunities
you have to differentiate yourself.
The first contact, in person or otherwise, is critical.
During the first interaction, the client will decide
whether or not they want to spend time with and
possibly do business with you. They determine if you
can benefit them or if you’re just there to get some
business. How much time do you spend developing
your opening and planning your strategies to
improve your effectiveness?
Most sales managers and customers will tell you that
too many salespeople talk too much and don’t listen
enough. They are not skilled in the “art of asking
questions” and are not capable of identifying the
“client’s pain” or defining the “issues of urgency.” They
don’t spend enough time identifying what keeps
the customer up at night. In other words, where
does the stress come from? How effective are you?
Customer-focused “warm calling” requires that you:
▲▲ Spend the necessary time with clients to
identify their needs.
▲▲ Communicate how you can be of assistance
in solving their problems and achieving their
▲▲ Describe how your product or service can
address the issues you have uncovered.
▲▲ Jointly develop a quantifiable action plan for
proceeding in an agreed upon time frame.