Cold calling can be a nerve-wracking experience especially for first- time telemarketers. You find yourself staring at the phone. Your mind races to find excuses not to call, at least for a few more seconds. However, when you delay the inevitable, you could miss out on opportunities.
A competitor could get on line with your prospect and close the deal. Success in telemarketing can be measured in seconds. Being prepared is the key. You should have all the information you need before making a cold call.
The best way to find out the information you need before a cold call would be to break the call down into three stages: The Introduction, the Pitch, and the Closing.
The Introduction – What Warm Up Questions Should You Ask?
The rule of thumb whenever you meet a person for the first time is to break the ice by asking warm up questions. The challenge in a cold call is that you literally only have a few seconds to warm up to the prospect.
Some telemarketers do research on the personal interests of the prospect. They think that by leading off with an off-business topic, it would be a good way to ease into the sales pitch.
For example, a telemarketer who finds out the prospect takes daily 5km runs in the evenings may start out with the following introduction:
“Thank you for taking time for my call. I will make this short and sweet so you can make it for your 5km run on time.”
It may seem like a harmless and friendly approach. However, the prospect may not appreciate anyone looking into his personal interests. It may give the impression that you are “stalking” him.
Since you only have a few seconds to make an impression, stick to business-related matters. Always keep in mind that you are taking away valuable time from your prospect.
What information do you need to make your introduction during the cold call effective?
- Who YOU Are – The introduction should be about you. The prospect wants to know right-off-the-bat who you are; specifically who your company is and what you do. This gets the ball rolling because it acts as a formal introduction.
Here’s an example of a good introduction:
“Good morning, sir. I am Ben Hammonds, Account Officer of Cartwright Technologies. Our company is the leading producer of inventory systems. We account for 91% of total market sales and have helped our clients reduce inventory costs by as much as 84%.”
This introduction will only take 12-15 seconds to run through. It is very effective because it includes information that can elicit interest from your prospect: Achievements that are validated with figures.
Companies are always looking for ways to improve performance. Decision-makers are enticed with figures. If you can clearly present an opportunity for the prospect to increase profitability in your introduction, you will surely gain his/her attention throughout the call.
- What Are The Client’s Pain Points? – Next, you have to tie in your value proposition to the client’s pain points in order to establish relevancy. This is where conducting research on your prospect’s company; not his/her personal interests, will pay off dividends:
“Based on your recent financial disclosures to the SEC, it seems that ‘Inventory Losses’ have eaten up a good portion of your margins. Our software solutions can help you track par-stock levels, wastage, product turnover, and even give clues on possible theft. As you well know, these are the 4 main culprits to Inventory Losses.”
These two statements collectively would take less than 30 seconds. However, they will keep your prospect engaged long enough to realize this cold call will not be a waste of time.
The Pitch – Create A Seamless Feedback Cycle During The Cold Call
Now you get to the meat and potatoes of the cold call! This is the opportunity to pitch what your company can do for the prospect. Specifically, you should focus on how your products and services can help the prospect address his/her different pain points.
What information about the prospect do you need during the pitch?
- Industry Ranking
- Financial Standing
- Directors, Officers, and Top Management
- Trends and Developments in the Industry
- Leading Competitors in the Industry
- Buyers’ Profile or Customer Base
The information that you can get on these categories will help you create a seamless feedback system with the prospect. Feedback is basically a constant cycle of statement and response. Every statement you make will elicit a response that will keep the call going.
Having knowledge in these key points of discussion will allow you to do the following:
- Present the value of your products and services.
- Show the prospect how your company can help him/her achieve their goals.
- Explain why acquiring your services will improve – not hurt – the prospect’s bottom-line.
- Create a vision for the future – Getting an advantage over the competition, having the ability to address the immediate needs of the prospect’s customer base, allowing the prospect to take a lead on current trends and developments in the industry.
- Dispute claims against your company; its products and services.
- Rebut unfavourable scenarios or “doubts” expressed by the prospect about your company’s abilities to deliver results.
You should expect the prospect to adopt a defensive position initially. He/she knows you want the company’s business which means their money. However, every time you present a valid point or counter-point, the prospect’s defences will start to wear down.
What should you avoid during the pitch?
While the prospect can be defensive, it doesn’t mean that you should take the offensive. The pitch should not be used to attack the prospect or criticize the way he/she does business.
The pitch is used to highlight your value proposition; show the prospect how your products or services can help them overcome persistent problems in business.
Likewise, you should not be defensive if the prospect questions the effectiveness of your products or the validity of your statements. That is all part of the feedback system. Again, having the ideal information will prevent you from saying the wrong things at the right time.
The Closing – Setting Your Expectations
The purpose of the cold call is not to close the sale. Is it possible? Yes, but it is not a realistic expectation. In telemarketing, the cold call is used to set up an appointment. Of course, if you can get the deal done, why not?
However, it is good rule to moderate your expectations before a cold call. Your goal should be to schedule a personal meeting with the prospect.
What information do you need to close the cold call effectively?
- Prospect’s goals and objectives
- Prospect’s timelines
- Developments with the prospect’s companies
You should be cognizant of verbal cues that indicate the cold call should be ended. These verbal cues could be any of the following:
- The prospect easing into more informal topics.
- The prospect indicating he/she has another appointment.
- Feedback system has slowed down; more “dead space” in between exchanges.
These are signs that you should move to end the cold call. Here is a good example of an effective closing:
“Thank you John for taking my call. I hope you found our time on the phone to be productive. I’d like to set an appointment with you this Friday to discuss our proposal further. Company B (the prospect’s competitor) is set to go to market with their new product by next month. We still have time to get Company A (the prospect’s company) on-board and ready to take the lead in the industry.”
A few things to note about our closing:
- It does not ask for an appointment. Instead, it recommends a date for an appointment. This way, you create urgency.
- It has a call-to-action: Come on-board so you can fight off the competition and become the industry leader.
Whether your cold call makes it directly to the prospect, you have to be ready for any eventuality. The first few seconds of the cold call is very important. It sets the tone of the conversation. Both the gatekeeper and the prospect will quickly have an idea if the call will be productive or a waste of time.
If you want the cold call to be productive, don’t rush into it and leave your chances to fate. Telemarketing is a form of competition. You are competing for the time, attention, and interest of the prospect versus telemarketers of your competitors. Every competition demands proper preparation to get the desired results.
The prospect has given up a share of his/her valuable time so you can make your pitch. It is time that the prospect could have used to attend to business matters. He/she expects it to be productive. Every question and statement will have an impact on your value proposition. Make them count by gathering the right information about your prospect.