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Acer America
Acer America Corp. is a computer manufacturer of business and consumer PCs, notebooks, ultrabooks, projectors, servers, and storage products.

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333 West San Carlos Street
San Jose, California 95110
United States

WWW: acer.com

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News & Articles

March 22, 2022 |

Cold Calling 201

Good cold callers start with a strong problem-solving premise, not a sales pitch, and focus on relationship building.

COLD CALLING is the lead-generation activity every channel pro knows they need but many hate to do. To move beyond the “dread and dial” beginner stage and gain the intermediate-level skills that will get real results consistently, a shift in mindset is required––along with clear goals, preparation, and follow-up.

First the basics: Everyone in sales should dedicate a portion of their week to prospecting, which includes outreach via email and LinkedIn, in-person drop-ins (when possible), and cold calling, according to Kendra Olney Lee, president of KLA Group, a sales and marketing agency based in Denver that focuses on helping SMBs increase new client acquisition. For example, an “appointment setter”––whose job mainly consists of cold calling––would dedicate the greater part of each day to this exercise. Someone charged with business development is working existing leads in combination with identifying new ones, and therefore would carve out a number of hours per week for cold calling, depending on their sales goals.

Kendra Olney Lee

 

At the prospecting stage, Lee emphasizes, the goal is to get to know people and to gain an understanding of what their current business problem is. “The odds that you’re going to get somebody who has an immediate need are low, so a lot of times, you’re starting a relationship and you’re going to check back until they have that need,” she says. Or, the prospect may have a small need that the channel pro can address right now, “until the bigger thing you’d really like to do is a need for them.”

The Message

Some cold callers follow scripts. Gary Pica, founder and president of TruMethods, a coaching firm targeted at MSPs, advises against this, however. “As soon as people feel like it’s a script that you’re reading, it’s going to come to a grinding halt,” he says.

Instead, he urges salespeople to develop a call premise: Why are you reaching out to this prospect? The answer should not be, he underlines, to make a sale. “As soon as they think we want to sell them something, they’re going to give us an objection. We answer the objection, and all the air gets sucked out of the call,” he says.

Good cold callers have strong messaging, according to Keith Lubner, executive vice president and head of training and consulting at Sales Gravy, a sales training firm based in Thomson, Ga., and managing partner of C3 (Channel Consulting Corp.), a management consultancy based in Philadelphia. “You have to lock in with a message that has something of value that they’ll trade their time for,” he explains. This could be in the form of offering information of educational value, or even something tangible––such as statistics on cost savings that your firm has been able to achieve for other SMBs.

Pica agrees that prospects are more open to receiving information that contributes to improving their current situation. As an example, he suggests saying something like: “What if I told you that when we meet with people, nine out of 10 times they tell us they make some change to their process or how they manage their current situation that they think reduces their risk or saves them money––even if they never did business with us?”

The goal here, Pica explains, is selling an appointment, not IT services. “We’re only selling why that meeting would be valuable for them, no matter what their situation is,” he says.

The Gatekeeper

Traditionally, salespeople had to get past gatekeepers to reach the key contact. Nowadays––especially with people working from home––they’re likely to encounter voicemail.

When leaving messages, Lee tells salespeople to use an abbreviated version of the opening they had planned to use with the prospect. Leave your phone number at the beginning and the end of the message as well, she adds, and let the prospect know that you will be following up via email. The odds of the prospect returning the call are low, but it’s important for them to know that someone tried to reach them and that their next effort will be reaching out via email so the prospect is prepared for it.

Despite the proliferation of voicemail, human gatekeepers still exist. Lee counsels salespeople to approach them in the same way as the prospect. “You’re going to have a conversation with the gatekeeper just like you would have a conversation with the person you’re trying to reach, and work to get an appointment either through the gatekeeper, or get past that person to leave a voicemail or reach [the prospect],” she says.

The Follow-Up

Gary Pica

 

Between the initial call and the first follow-up, salespeople can start building a relationship with the prospect. Pica suggests sharing links to industry-related articles that cover subjects pertinent to what was discussed during that first call. Again, he emphasizes, providing information––rather than trying to make a sale––will strengthen the chances that the prospect will be more receptive.

Pica says this approach can apply to several follow-up calls. When a prospect doesn’t feel like they’re going to receive a sales pitch, it increases the chances of them taking the call. “You can find a lot of ways of creating the relationship where they don’t think that every time you call them [you’re asking,] ‘Are you ready to buy yet?'” he says.

The Confidence Builders

Effective cold calling takes practice. To get better at it, sometimes it’s just a matter of picking up the phone and doing it, Lee says.

She suggests building confidence by starting with “low-risk” prospects, such as “a small company that, if they wanted us, great––if they don’t, no big deal.”

Another strategy is to follow up with someone who submitted their contact information through a marketing campaign, Lee says. “They already took an action and that’s really easy to feel good about following up on.”

Keith Lubner

Sometimes, however, your initial conversation with a prospect is a complete flop. Then what? Lee urges salespeople worried about a bad call to calm down and call them back later. “Chances are that person’s not going to remember you specifically, and they’re probably not going to remember your company,” she says. “They’re not even going to remember that you flopped, so don’t worry about it.”

While cold calling requires persistence, patience, and discipline, Pica argues that getting an SMB’s attention is less difficult today thanks to the pandemic. “Most small businesses have more technology than two years ago, and they all have a better understanding of security risks.”

Decision makers at SMBs also believe they need to learn more about technology and security, Pica adds. “They don’t know what they don’t know, so actually getting the appointment is easier today than it was two years ago.”

Image: iStock


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