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.
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.”
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.