For many sales people, cold calling is an essential part of the job. It’s the mystical artform that turns a complete stranger at the other end of a telephone line into a customer. If it’s done well, it can prove invaluable for a company’s bottom line by generating new business it benefits from for a sustained period. If done badly however, the cold call becomes an unwanted nuisance that damages your brand and repels potential customers.
The salesperson we recently employed here at W1nners’ Club HQ is no Jordan Belfort by any measure, but she’s a damn sight better than the half-wit mutant she replaced.
Bad salespeople are a bit like bad breath in that all they do is make people wish they would stop talking for a split second.
We therefore thought it prudent to provide you with a guide to cold calling techniques and how it shouldn’t be done so you don’t end up praying that your sales rep(s) get hit by a bus on their way into to work – thus protecting the company from their startling lack of ability.
The sales person we ended up sacking from The W1nners’ Club would often launch into calls from a list of prospects without having any idea of the type of conversation he hoped to have with the client at the other end. On one occasion he even called someone up with no idea of the name of the person he was talking to, whilst believing he had called up a women’s beauty brand when in fact it was a paperclip manufacturer from Weston-super-Mare. It’s fair to say that particular business relationship never ended up being anything more than stationery!
It’s unclear whether or not our previous sales person had a drug problem as we choose not to drug test staff here at The W1nners’ Club (for obvious reasons), but he certainly had an alarming propensity to forget his own name when attempting to pitch potential clients. The introduction of a sales call sets out the strategic basis for the call and provides a reason for the person on the other end to want to speak to you. If you don’t know why you’re calling or indeed your name, your potential customer most definitely won’t either!
Our previous salesperson unfortunately had the conversational skills of a dead dodo with a speech impediment, and whilst we continue with our internal enquiry as to how the hell he managed to secure full time employment here, this leads us on to the subject of asking good questions during a sales call. It’s important to remember that you are trying to form a relationship with a potential customer, so you should try to ask questions that help the client paint a picture in their mind of how useful your relationship might be in the future. Unfortunately in the case of our previous salesperson, this picture contained items such as chocolate teapots and ashtrays on motorbikes.
When cold calling, it is important to retain a professional and advisory persona at all times. Don’t simply spend the call forcing your products down the customer’s throat and bad-mouthing the competition. Statements such as, “don’t do business with them, they’re shit,” “I hate them lot, they’re all wankers,” or, “we’re the only ones that won’t rip you off,” should never appear in your sales pitch. We had to issue a verbal warning to our previous sales rep because he told a customer that one of our competitor’s directors has a criminal record for fraud and even though such loyalty is generally appreciated, the last thing we need to be engaged in is a mud-slinging match as our competitors have at least as much dirt on us!
5. Listen and interpret
You need to make sure that you conduct your sales call from the customer’s perspective. This requires a lot of empathy ie. listening to his or her problems to try and help solve them. The conversation should NEVER, repeat, NEVER descend into an argument. Our previous salesperson was rather overly-aggressive and ended up having one customer turn up here at the office armed with a baseball bat looking for him to commence the violent altercation that had been pre-arranged by the pair of them during a sales call. It’s important to think carefully about how you want to be seen by customers and then f*cking-well acting like it!
6. Inform and educate
If the customer you are selling to knows more about your product or service than you do, you are effectively wasting his or her time by not adding to their knowledge as a result of speaking to them. The mistake we made with our previous sales rep was to give him a bonus for every appointment he arranged with a prospective client. As a result, he spent very little time explaining the virtues of our products to customers and simply raced to try and book as many appointments as possible. We only realised what he was up to when his expenses showed that he had visited the same lap dancing club 8 times in a single month for a ‘follow up’ meeting.
7. Keep in touch and keep notes
Finally – remember that your customer has put a lot of faith in you by taking the time to listen to what you have to say, so it’s important to stay in touch with them regardless of the outcome of the call. Don’t be like our previous sales rep who spent over an hour on the phone with a client only to completely forget about it before attempting to pitch them again a day later. The client said that he wouldn’t have minded so much if he didn’t have our sales rep booked in for a meeting the following morning. Always make a note of the conversations you have so that the relationship moves forwards rather than backwards.