IT’S ARGUABLY one of the most difficult sales tasks: calling on someone who doesn’t know you or your business. Today caller ID and voicemail make this exercise even harder; unless you’re programmed into the individual’s contacts list it’s unlikely they’ll pick up. But for many channel pros, cold calling remains an important part of generating new revenue streams. Here are three tips to make it easier.
1. Use multiple tools for multiple touches. Successful salespeople typically combine cold calling with other communication methods, because reaching a prospect almost always requires multiple “touches,” according to Keith Lubner, executive vice president and head of training and consulting at Sales Gravy, and managing partner of consulting firm C3. The initial touch may be a voicemail in combination with an email. The second touch might be through LinkedIn. The third touch may be a follow-up phone call combined with a text message, and so on.
This approach, which Lubner calls blending and sequencing, “ups your probability of connecting with somebody,” he says. It also helps determine how a prospect likes to communicate. If you get a response via LinkedIn, for example, you can presume that’s the preferred platform.
2. Have a script (or several). Karl Palachuk, author, business coach, and technology consultant, recommends scripting your cold calls––even just a rough outline—for three different conversations: one for the gatekeeper, one for the decision maker that the gatekeeper will hopefully give you access to, and one for voicemail. For the latter, he adds, make the call to action clear and concise: “Call me back.” “Go to the website.” “Request a free report.”
Be prepared, too, if the prospect actually takes your call. “Every once in a while, you’ll reach someone who needs exactly what you’re selling right now,” Palachuk says. You’ll need to switch gears from your pitch script to a consultative approach, he notes, which could include offering a free network audit.
3. Focus on the business, not technology. When you finally have the attention of either the business owner or manager/decision maker (and that should be your target), concentrate on business issues, Palachuk advises. “Address uptime, productivity, and efficiency––not redundant as-a-service, fully buzzword-compliant infrastructure,” he says.
And be sure to ask open-ended questions, he advises. “A question about ransomware or phishing attacks will get a better response than a question like, ‘How’s your backup system working?’”
Palachuk acknowledges that a lot of people hate cold calling, so he suggests setting aside a half hour early in the day to make a maximum of 10 calls. However, he adds, “If you really won’t do a good job, hire someone who will.”