Cold Calling: An Art or a Test in Tenacity? (Part 1)
Every salesperson loves to hate the cold call. What many people need is a new way to approach the cold call. Is it an art or a test of our tenacity? By preparing diligently (the art), you can lessen the tenacity and fear of rejection that comes with the cold call.
Part of the love/hate affair is the way you are forced to approach sales. The bottom line though is that most businesses cannot live without the cold call, and it can prove very rewarding. Most people have heard the saying “For every 100 “no” responses, you are bound to get 1 “yes”. How do you get to that “yes”?
Take a look at the issue from a new salesperson point of view. For starters, the typical Sales Manager probably does take not the time to train new people properly. Usually goals are simply set and recruits are left out on their own. Here is the normal process:
· The Sales Manager’s “boss” gives the Sales Manager a goal- sometimes designed from the bottom up but usually from the top down.
· The Sales force, including the new recruit, is charged with execution.
· The new recruit is given a number and hopefully a plan. This is where the foundation for the art is laid.
As a new salesperson, where do you go from there? Break it down into easy-to-follow steps.
Step 1: Embrace the Goal.
- If you do not embrace the goal, you are stacking the deck against yourself. This is the make or break moment for your attitude of success or failure.
Step 2: Develop a Plan.
- Developing the plan is where you put your artistic style into how you will accomplish the goal.
- Know what your boss wants you to sell.
- Determine the most profitable product or package.
- Identify the key customers, key prospects, and competitors.
- You are now ready to implement a simple plan that is the art of cold calling.
Step 3: Prepare a Database.
- Think of the database as the canvas for your masterpiece. This is where the art begins.
- First you need to pick a good one. Make sure you are familiar with the program, and it can be manipulated and easily updated. An example of a user friendly product is Outlook.
- Next you must build your database depending on your specific needs. Each industry requires something different, but basic info includes name, address, phone number, e-mail, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter account. You must be rigorous in building the database.
- Those basics are the key, but the most important thing to keep track of is 1) the last time contacted; 2) points discussed; and 3) follow up item. Remember: it often takes 8 contacts to get the first meeting.
Step 4: Building the Database.
- If the database is your canvas, the data is your paint. So that will be the contacts and related info.
- First, you must identify the competition. This is what you will enter first. A good salesperson knows the competition, their weakness and strengths. Play their weaknesses to your company’s strengths.
- Next, you must identify the key decision makers or Centers of Influence (COI) at every chance. This will minimize your time and effort. As an example, assume you are selling a technical product. A young sales person calls the Engineering Department, hoping they will introduce them to the Purchasing Department. In reality, the decision maker is the Engineering Department. This could happen vice-versa.
- A technique you can use to get to the COI, is to ask permission to present your capabilities to the Purchasing Department. COI identification comes with experience or asking experienced sales people. Do background research, this will come in handy later.
- Before leaving the subject of the database, it is important to set up a follow-up by date, and what you are following up on. Then be tenacious to about following up. Do not be over bearing, alternate contact, polite contact, phone call, e-mail, hand written note.
Step 5: Engage the Contacts.
- When you get a chance to speak with the decision maker, ask yourself three questions and repeat them to the decision maker: 1) Who are your competition? 2) What can you do to improve on what your competition does for you? 3) What features in a relationship do they value most and will make them consider doing business with you.
- Gather the information, take it back to your office and digest what you have been told. Categorize it and then do it over and over until you get a clear picture of the market. That develops the pillars of your sales plan. You must continue to refine this data and be tenacious about creating your master artwork.
- Do not wait until the plan is done, or you will not make your goal. Start from the first day building the plan to reach out to your potential customers.
- Continue to keep up the database and follow up, follow up, follow up. The value of having the database updated is you can quickly prepare reports for your management, report on progress, advise on opportunities, and provide key market intelligence. You will be prepared for anything that comes up in your daily pursuit of chances to quote, present the sales pitch, and close the sale.
To recap, you must remember that the plan is constantly developing, but having a framework and plan to begin with is key. This is the art of the cold call and will reduce the amount of energy you spend on tenacity. Following up and continuing to fill in the blanks is where your tenacity gets put to the test. The cold call is a combination of both. In the next part of this series, you will get into the details of how to make a sales pitch, ask for feedback, and respond to valuable RFPs and quotes, and get to that crucial “yes” in making the cold call.