Cold Calls: No one will be surprised if thought of cold calling makes you wince. The idea of dialling strangers – who, let’s be honest, don’t really want to spend their time on your sales pitch – is something even the most seasoned sales rep shies away from.
But, things have changed in the past eight to 10 years.
No, strangers still don’t want to be interrupted. That hasn’t changed. But what has is directly related to you, the salesperson.
Today, you and your sales team have access to information about the lead’s organisation, persona and industry that empowers you to get very targeted and precise in your approach. No longer is the approach about wasting their time. In fact, it’s flipped: you’re now offering something of true value.
Some leaders will tell you the cold calling revolution began with the advent of the Internet, when data was only a search away. But I believe that sales professionals were forced to fine tune their approach when the recession hit in about 2008.As companies pulled back on their spending, only the most skilled reps were still successful. They set a high bar – and soon every other sales professional was forced to elevate their game.
If you want to refine your cold calling, you’ll want to incorporate two essential practices.
Give your sales team superpowers with advanced training.
Being a “natural” at cold calling is all well and good, but training is what differentiates the best of the best. You can’t fake it on the phone. Think about it: if you start your call speaking to an HR leader, but are transferred you to a finance executive, then to someone on the operations team, you’re going to be in hot water and lacking subject matter expertise if you haven’t been trained properly.You need to understand what each area prioritises and understand how to make a compelling case from every angle.
To reach that level of knowledge, your team should go through three layers of training on a recurring basis.
1. Foundational business training:Your team doesn’t need to have an advanced business degree, but should be able to talk Business 101. Make sure they understand enough basics on finance, operations and cost control to conduct a persuasive high-level business conversation.
2. Specific campaigns and products: What are you selling? Why? What’s the challenge it solves for? You can’t sell if you can only give a quick sentence about a vague value proposition. Your team must understand the nuances of the campaign or product for each persona and its value across audiences.
3. Deep dive into buyer personas. While contact centres do often focus on this, they tend to specialise its staff. But, that’s not going to work in terms of speaking effectively to different operational areas. Our example above about being transferred from HR to finance to operations isn’t out of the ordinary. Your team members are speaking with business executives in every department, so they must conduct high value conversations. The moment they begin reading off a script, the connection – and the sale – will die.
Warm cold calls up with data.
Cold calling, just like every other aspect of business, has benefitted greatly from data intelligence. You now have the ability to know who you’re calling, as well as identifying strong insights into their organisational needs before you even place that call. In fact, the prospect expects you to show that level of awareness. If you have to ask remedial questions, they’ll wonder why you didn’t bother to research them. Bring up a major initiative from your research and you’ll have their attention.
Additionally, your prospects will generally be informed if you’re targeting them correctly. It’s no secret the buyer’s journey has changed –after consuming content on their own, B2B buyers enter the cycle at different times and stages. You’ll need to meet them at that level of understanding, having already done a deep dive into their persona and how to sell to them (Step 3 above). After all, no one wants to be interrupted for an unexpected or random pitch – but a conversation that resonates and offers value will grab their attention.
So how can you foster that immediate connection? Share compelling information in one of three areas:company, industry or role. A few ideas:
Company: Find out their focal areas by reading through their annual reports, their earnings statements or even Hoovers.This step will help you know what they’re prioritising and where your offering fits.
Industry: What’s challenging their industry? Maybe you know that tech companies are investing in marketing automation, yet only ten percent or less use it to its full potential. That opens a door for you to offer to optimise the prospect’s investment.
Role: Let’s say you’re speaking to a finance leader. You don’t want to waste their time chatting about operational items. Speak their language with something along the lines of, “We’ve helped Company X and Company Y generate this dollar amount in opportunities.” Not only does that establish your authority, but you’ll immediately have their attention.
Speaking of data, make sure yours is pointing you toward the right targets. At Televerde, we’ve found most company’s prospect databases are only 60 percent contactable, with 40percent of bad data. That means their team has been wasting 40percentof their budget contacting people who will never buy from them or no longer work at the company. Make sure your team is spending their time on the best targets.
You might be thinking that it’s easier to just start dialling for £££s, especially if you have high turnover and don’t want to invest in deep product, personal and industry training. That’s where the lack of effort becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Train the right people and you’ll have a successful team, which often means longer staff tenure and ultimately, happier customers. We’re lucky enough to live in an era of precise data and valuable insights; use them and you’ll take your cold calling game and resulting ROI to an advanced level.
Jim Thorburn joined Televerde as its Chief Sales Officer in 2016. He is a strong customer advocate who is responsible for leading global sales initiatives for Televerde’s growing, world-class sales organization. With his 30+ years of executive experience in private equity, public and private companies, Jim has demonstrated leadership in a number of industries including technology, automotive and alternative energy. He enjoys golfing, skiing, cycling, exercising, theatre, museums, Charles Rennie Macintosh and Frank Lloyd Wright, reading Scottish Crime and enjoying a malt whisky on a wet, windy day in Scotland.