6 tips on how B2B inside sales people can have more effective cold calls by slowing down.
Cold Call Approach 1
I’m sure that many of us have picked up the phone to hear something like this:
“Hi Pat, this is Bill Smith, with Techno-Widgets, we help small to medium size enterprises optimize server performance for Cloud, Big Data, virtualization and the Internet of Things. We have helped hundreds of organizations just like yours attain 500% ROI and…” (I didn’t hear the rest of the pitch because I hung up.)
Well, I didn’t really hang up, but I think you get my point. Bill talked too fast and went immediately into a sales pitch. This allowed me to easily dismiss him as just another sales call that I didn’t have time to deal with. Bill’s “fast pitch” technique also allowed me to dismiss him without any feelings of guilt. He wasn’t respecting my time, so I was “off the hook” in terms of having to respect his time. Bill also did not stop to find out that I have absolutely nothing to do with any technology decisions for my company. The result is that I am annoyed for about 30 seconds and Bill does not have a prospect.
Cold Call Approach 2
Now, let's look at a different approach.
Bill: Hi Pat, this is Bill Smith with Techno-Widgets (pause).
Me: Hi Bill.
Bill: Pat, we haven’t talked before, but I was hoping you may be able to provide me some direction at ConnectLeader (short pause). Do you have a moment (or 30 seconds, etc.)?
Me: Sure Bill. What can I do for you?
Bill: Techno-Widgets provides a solution that our customers use to improve server performance. (short pause) I wanted to see if you can point me in the right direction at ConnectLeader... (pause)…..
No need to go through the rest of this pretend call, but I assure you it ended well for Bill. I introduced him to our director of IT and he closed a large deal with us 3 months later.
The two main differences between these two cold calls are that Bill slowed things down and didn’t immediately go into a sales pitch on the second call. By slowing down his pace, he didn’t sound like “just another salesperson.” He also left me anticipating his next word, which forced me to engage with him. Once I made this commitment to engage with him, he was no longer someone whom I could just blow off without feeling any guilt. He was a person to me now. (No one likes to hang up on a real person.) By keeping his pace slow and even, Bill was also tacitly inviting me to interrupt him and bail out at any moment. With this sense of security, I felt like it was safe to continue with the sales call. The end result is that, although I was not the right person for Bill to talk with, I was more than happy to refer him to our director of IT, with confidence that Bill would not annoy him either.
Pat's tips for effective cold calls
There are always going to be people who won’t talk with you on cold calls. However, I have found that following the short list of rules below has improved my results dramatically:
- Slow it down. It’s much easier for the prospect to write you off as “just another sales call” when you talk to fast.
- Respect their time. Make sure it’s an “okay” time to talk. It is probably never a great time to interrupt someone’s day, but the call will surely go better if you confirm that they are not preoccupied or dealing with an emergency.
- Don’t be afraid of silence. This is really an extension of point 1. Oftentimes, the prospect is simply thinking, or looking up contact information for the person they want to refer you to. Silence is good!
- Never talk over the prospect. The prospect may be trying to help you and provide guidance. Even let the customer interrupt you. It’s much more important to for you to hear what they have to say than it is for them to hear what you have to say.
- Don’t sell too early. Keep value and benefit statements to an absolute minimum until the prospect invites you to sell. Just tell the prospect what your company does and ask for guidance on how you can engage with their company. Otherwise, you are just another salesperson and they don’t have time to be sold. Your first priority is to ask for guidance to see if you have a prospect in the first place. (Less is more!) They will tell you if and when they want to learn more about what you do.
- Avoid buzzwords and acronyms when possible. The person you are talking with may have no idea what you are talking about. But they can point you in the right direction if you use plain language.
Go get 'em!