For most sales people the mention of cold calling elicits an exorcist like head spinning reaction, and a sense of banishment to purgatory. Cold calling shouldn’t feel like going on a date with Lucifer and it doesn’t have to.
Essentially every first call and communication with someone is a cold call. Even with an introduction, you still have to make a great first impression. Someone may have opened the door, but you still have to get through.
Consider changing the terms of your internal conversation. Switching off the defeatist mind chatter can be easier said than done. Not giving into the fear and loathing of what awaits you at the other end of the phone is simply the matter of having an amazing story to share. Who doesn’t enjoy a hearing great story?
It’s not about the product you want to sell, but it’s about the story you need to tell. Of course this somewhat contradicts the very tried and true sales axiom: “given we have two ears, and one mouth, we should be listening twice as much as talking”. Every great story quickly rivets the reader’s attention. You need to think about what makes you riveting in the consciousness of your prospect or customer. You’re not an interruption, but you can choose to be the most valuable story someone hears today. Don’t forget, people buy value. More importantly people buy into a story that resonates.
There’s only one way to have your story resonate: Know your customer, align your story with their values, their needs, their goals, and you’re gold. There are no more excuses for not knowing your customer. Launch a web browser, do a simple search and voila the foundation of the story is there. Take the time to:
- Read their blog,
- Read industry publications,
- Read competitor literature,
- Read what they are sharing on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Google+
Knowing their story will help shape yours. Having a well aligned story that resonates is a good start. It’s very likely that you’ll have many different stories to craft, as not every customer or prospect is the same. Adding an element of structure to your creative process will make sure activity aligns with productivity. Remember to keep focused:
- Target one customer segment per day/week/campaign
- Focus on learning as much about their situation as possible
- Avoid switching segments mid-stream as this can distract
We’re strong a proponent of mapping out a well-shaped path. In this spirit we recommend these resources: Direct the Rider, Motivate the Elephant, Shape the Path and the Heath brothers book Switch.
Your well-shaped path to taking the cold out of your next call is to remember a little preparation adds up to big success.
- Write out the story
- Rehearse and always be smiling
- Prepare targeted marketing materials
- Have everything that you’ll need ready the day before you show up at work
Cold calling is a numbers game – preparing everything the day before reduces friction and makes it mentally easier to pick up the phone.