If you ask anyone involved with Sales what the most difficult engagement is, many will say the 'Cold Call'. Most of us would prefer that inquiry which comes in via the phone or the web site or the direct referral from an associate. That is the high life and networking racket. Those are easy Sales. I am talking about that situation where you are trying to target new companies and contacts in perhaps new sectors where your services and products have had no traction or limited history. You are the Sales developer and must rely on your own research and introductory “pitch”, in order to make inroads and further a conversation. It takes an enormous amount of time and effort to crack that new sector or commence a record of successes.
The Internet is your best friend when you begin to create that New Prospect file. Most importantly, you want the verifiable contact name, title, phone number and e-mail legend. Those are the essentials, and many companies go to great lengths to mask this information, so dig you must.
Even with some sketchy information you can start the telephone calling. Without a specific name, typically, the CEO’s or COO’s office is a good place to start, as their Executive Assistants usually will direct you to the proper source. Now, you have a name and introduction, “Anne in Mr. X’s office suggested I call”. You have created some familiarity and reliability.
Now, you have that opportunity to make that memorable “First Impression”. You need to plan for this, both emotionally and informatively. You need to be energized and positive. If not, your messaging is flat. Secondly, you need to have a good script to lay out exactly who you are and what you offer. With your research you have some history of the industry and some “Buzz words”. Use this. You are selling value. Keep the “pitch” focused, short and personalized. Use the contact’s name a few times in your spiel.
Eighty five percent of the time, you will need to leave a message. The best are under two minutes, because your contact has no time for irritating sales calls, so set the “hook” early, and leave some memorable “ingrained” information – name, company and service/product highlights. Fifteen percent of the time you will reach an Admin and rarely the actual contact person. Always be courteous and polite as you drive the message. Rarely do contacts return a call!
Your second “touch” after the sales phone call will be the follow-up e-mail. This needs to be brief, as well, but presented with vigor – significant bullets, descriptive prose, engaging format, and appropriate attachment(s). Consider copying in others in the organization who might find value in your wares. Remember, your contact receives a large volume of sales material every day, and you must aim to be distinctive and, yes, memorable.
This new contact is now part of your “Call Loop”. Keep that evenly spaced. Bear in mind that you have no idea how that contact handles phone messages or e-mails. Persistence does pay off, usually after the third contact, matter of fact. Hopefully, you catch them at the right moment of need or interest. Usually, you need to adapt your script a bit for the ongoing calls, extolling successes and additional benefits. Remember, this is a dedicated game of “touches”.
Cold Calling is painstaking, often painful, always demanding patience. As the dam begins to break, you are learning more about an industry’s needs and challenges, which helps with further sales. As you begin to have successes, market those. New business is a powerful marketing tool. Cold Calling is not glamorous – no wine and dine here. But, it is the backbone to growth and prosperity. Pardon me, I have a call to make...
John Hendrie is the author of the LRA blog 'A Guy Walks In'. LRA is a leading research and consulting company in the emerging discipline of Customer Experience Management (CEM). We work with our clients to help them design and deliver consistently exceptional customer experiences in order to drive customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy, and company growth and profitability. We have built a range of quality assurance, mystery shopping, research, training and consulting solutions to help them do so.
Today, we are a growing company operating in more than 120 countries throughout the world, servicing our clients from offices and resources in the Americas, EMEA and Asia Pacific regions and helping clients such as Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, the National Football League, Avis Budget Group, Madison Square Garden, the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas and Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group deliver exceptional customer experiences. Every touch. Every time. For more information, visit www.LRAworldwide.com.
Logos, product and company names mentioned are the property of their respective owners.