Cold Calling Does Work!

To some sales people cold calling on companies is old fashioned, belonging to an age pre social media and not the most efficient way of generating business. This need not be so and applied in the manner I prescribe will bring tangible results quickly and make selling more productive.

 Prepare a sales pack with business card attached for each company visit and always ask that it be handed in to the key decision maker.

With this approach a key decision maker is more likely to read a brochure and perhaps follow up with an enquiry. Indeed if the timing is not right, it may get filed for another time. The alternate method is to hand in a business card to a receptionist which invariably gets lost in a drawer somewhere never to see the light of day again.

Always ask to see the decision maker with every company visit. 5% of the time you will get to meet someone which may therefore lead to a prospect gained. 50 cold calls per month means you get to meet an additional 30 decision makers you would not necessarily have met had you not made the effort.

Make three cold calls for every meeting and you make 30 cold calls weekly based on 10 scheduled weekly meetings. This will mean that follow up meetings from prospecting will be compressed together in similar areas.

Refrain from Group Cold Calling Campaigns.

Nobody will put in the same effort into your area as you will and my experience found it to be a distraction from the serious business of selling. First comes the early morning breakfast before the team heads off and then everyone meets up for a coffee to comment on progress. Valuable time gets lost.

Target your client base with a planned cold calling campaign.

Cold calling need not be confined to non customers. Prepare your sales packs with specific product brochures for each targeted client. For instance if your client has a 25 cpm machine; drop in the latest mid level product offering with bells and whistles. Make it a flying visit, meet your contact; educate them on new possibilities and then move on after a few minutes. A 100 client base could be covered in 1 / 2 days depending on individual areas. In this manner you then have reasons to follow up with a call to determine interest and schedule follow up meetings.

Indeed once you get talking to a decision maker or an existing client and rapport is quickly developed; ask for a referral ‘who would you recommend I call into with a brochure?’ This works. Give it a try.

If you have only two hours to cold call, then apply the 80:20 rule to ensure you visit the type of company more likely to buy your product. An online search will identify the tenants in the IE of your choosing. Your time is precious so call into ‘cash rich’ companies – multinationals, medical, pharmaceuticals and professions etc. Skip the obvious companies that won’t be in the market and you save valuable time. Leave the ‘lesser prospects’ to the competition.

Send a quick ‘thank you’ email to anyone you meet and try connecting with them on LinkedIn. Once vital information has been gathered and entered into a database, the information will always be there to tele-canvass and this too will reduce the tendency to rely completely on an inherited client base. Cold calling is just one of several prospecting strategies to adopt by all sales people at all levels.

Email is a viable communication tool for sales people.

Email is a viable communication tool for sales people.

I have noted that many trainers have looked on emailing as a poor relation to making sales calls and meetings but used effectively it can help you get to a decision maker when other attempts have failed.

First off, one must realise that almost every decision maker nowadays carries a smart phone with them to enable them to read their emails on the move. As a sales person you can take advantage of this addiction to their ‘crackberry’. So after every call it makes sense to send an email. One can always find a reason to send an email:

  • Congratulate a person on a career move
  • Confirm a meeting
  • Follow up on key points discussed at previous meeting
  • Forward on product information
  • Pass on relevant competitor information / lead etc.
  • Case Studies / Reference Listings / Product Recommendations
  • Company Newsletter / Recent Announcements
  • New contact details
  • Surveys / Questionnaires / News article / PR News
  • Request for a meeting
  • Web Links to company website
  • LinkedIn URLs
  • Ask for the next step in the sales process.

 The great thing about email is you can note the signature of the respondent: Does it contain a direct dial number or a mobile phone which will facilitate future Tele-Canvass campaigns and therefore bypass gatekeepers? If an email bounces on you, then you know that person has moved on and you need to follow up on this and meet the new person in charge. A direct email is likely to get read and may get filed for a later date. In terms of productivity, a sales person can write up emails after hours, to be sent the following morning.

 Regarding the proper use of emails, one should follow a few rules:

  • Make the headline descriptive and eye catching and personalise where possible.
  • Personalise the message so it won’t get associated as SPAM.
  • Send your emails during business hours not after hours for same reason.
  • Include a signature which includes your LI profile personalised URL.
  • Carefully review what you are sending; bad grammar, misspellings and misinterpretations will reflect badly on your professionalism.
  • Make emails short, concise and to the point.
  • One message per email. If you have several issues to address eg a customer service issue and a sales issue; send two emails so they can be addressed separately.
  • Never use block capitals as it represents shouting and refrain from clever symbols eg LOL (Laugh out Loud). Remember this is a business communication tool only.
  • Last but not least – don’t use it as a substitute to making sales calls.

The big advantage of emails is it is fast, cost effective and a great tool for keeping in contact with customers. When you add a tracker to your emails, you will know whether an email was read and therefore assists you with planning your sales call. If it gets deleted, then you need to employ an alternate strategy / contact in an organisation. Email, if used correctly is another way of getting your message to the decision maker.

Integrity

People ask me on occasion what  I think is the one trait that determines how successful a sales person will be overthe long term and I always respond with just one word  – Integrity. To carve out a career in sales, you don’t have to be necessarily the most talented or knowledgeable – just the most honest with yourself, your clients and your employer.

Integrity ensures that you get repeat custom. Companies will work closely with a sales person that they trust and who will be fair and reliable in good times and in bad. A person of high integrity has no problem with obtaining testimonials and referrals. Direct competitors are always willing to talk to this type of person. Their reputation always precedes them. This is what really wins them business.

When you closely align your chosen profession to your personal values, you come across as somebody who enjoys what they do. As a sales person you develop an air of composure, self belief with enthusiasm that all potential clients buy into. You’re in this profession for the long term and business comes your way because clients can ‘read’ this from you.

Conversely, the sales person who does not work hard, tries to ‘hard sell’ the wrong product on a company and fails to follow up on promises made will always get found out. They in the end will always struggle to get ahead.

Call me old fashioned but Integrity is what really matters. If you want to know what a person is really like – look at what they do under pressure and that will reveal their true values.

Ask for the Job!

Picture this scene: You have been asked to attend an interview, so you get out your best suit, research the company and review your CV. At interview you are greeted by a Sales Director who proceeds to interview you at length for an hour or so. By the end of the session you are directed to the door and reassured that somebody will be in touch. You get a warm feeling inside; the interview went well you feel and the rapport between you and the interviewer was genuine. So what’s missing? Well for starters, every other candidate has probably prepared in a similar fashion to you, arrived on time and answered all question as competently as possible. It’s also likely that all five shortlisted candidates have similar backgrounds to you. In short, you have a 20% chance of been made a job offer. When you take into account the time spent preparing, emotional energy invested and the expense involved job hunting – there surely has to be a better way?

Attending an interview is all about selling yourself and differentiating yourself from other candidates. We should really look upon ourselves as a commercial commodity composed of specific skills, experiences, aptitudes, contacts and abilities. Indeed look at it this way; you have a window opportunity of one hour to demonstrate your suitability for a position. The biggest single way to impress someone is with Attitude! Prove to them you can do the job and in an excellent fashion. Provide the evidence and talk in terms of specific examples, raw data and case studies. Ask for feedback ‘Am I the type of candidate you had in mind?’. Show them what you would do if you were in the role and what you expect to have achieved within 6 months. Address any lingering concerns head on and seek commitment, so you can move on to your close, ‘Does this make sense to you? Does this mean it is no longer any real concern? 

Then ask for the job or at least ask to advance to the next stage of the interview process. The worst that can happen is the interviewer will say no but the upside is you will be respected for taking a bold initiative. And you know what? Who else would have displayed the courage to ask such a question? Sounds like selling, doesn’t it?