Sales prospecting and cold calling rejection is hard to handle, most of all for salespeople.
I say, I say, I say, when do sales people hate cold calling?
When they are breathing!
Naff jokes are not the recommended way to start an article, but for this topic it seemed appropriate. I know that some of you are denying that you hate cold calling. If you really do enjoy it, you are the exception that proves the rule. If you feel that sales people didn't aught to hate it you are in good company, but common sentiment doesn't change the facts.
Sometimes sales people stubbornly refuse to recognise their reluctance. Sales people like me that is. I have a lame excuse. I am no longer a sales person; I am a trainer and a writer, and, on occasion, a motivational speaker. So what! I still have to make cold calls, if only to prove to myself that what I teach still works. Just last week I caught myself putting off such a session day after day. On one afternoon I sat down to do it, but then I realised I had to go and pump out a septic tank. The more unpleasant the excuse, the easier it is to use. If any of this resonates with you then you may find some help in the following paragraphs.
Let's get back to basics. If you have enough leads and enquiries to make your target, then you won't bother acting on anything here. I feel safe in assuming that you are reading this either because you really have to make more cold calls, or your team needs to do more prospecting. The alternative is . . . , well we won't talk of that.
If it is important enough, make it so. Make an absolute commitment to yourself. Set the time and place. If you need to get others making cold calls, illicit their absolute commitment or make it mandatory. Then set about making it fun. Set goals and objectives. First, decide how long the session will be. If it needs to be more than an hour, plan for regular breaks. Pick a realistic target for how many calls you will make in a session. Decide what you will consider a successful call, and how you will classify different results. For instance, I use five categories - no contact, new information, follow up sent, hit, and declined. This means I can measure my success and monitor what works. Guess at a realistic success rate. Err on the cautious side to begin with, so that you will have cause for celebration.
If you know your success rate, you can play tricks on your mind. Suppose your hit rate is 1 in 12 calls. Try to get 12 rejections in a row. Oh what a nuisance, the eleventh call got a yes! It is natural for people to dislike rejection. Even when it is not personal, we tend to feel it is. Knowing how many rejections you are supposed to get, allows you to use them as motivators.
Knowing your success rate makes it easy to tie sales compensation to each call. Simply divide the commission value of a hit by the number of calls it takes to get it. Now you know how much you make, for just picking up the telephone.
Once you know your hit rate, you can set about improving it. If you don't measure it, you will have to rely on your intuition and instincts about what works and what doesn't. Ordinarily this may be all right, but with cold calling, one bad experience will stop you using an approach, even if it has been successful many times before. Cold calling is a numbers game. The phrases, questions, and statements we use need to be tested so that we can objectively decide which ones yield the best results. Once we have an approach that gets a consistent success rate, we can use it as a benchmark to improve upon.
What you say in the first few seconds usually controls how the rest of the call will proceed. It warrants some preparation. Get a tape recorder so that you can listen to how your opening line will sound. Practice until you sound completely at ease and confident with it.
What you say will depend on what you are selling. The people you call might be sitting waiting for something interesting to happen, like a call from a pushy sales person. Anything is possible! Your opening line must be powerful enough to wrench their attention away from what they are doing. It should take the form of a question, or a statement followed by a question. It should express the most relevant and compelling reason for the listener to pay attention. Failing to create a connection with the listener's wants and needs, in the first ten to twenty seconds, will almost always lead to the dreaded rejection.
Ability to turn around the inevitable rejections can double or triple success rates. The solution is in preparation. List out all the likely objections such as, "we don't need it" and, "we have already got one", then prepare what you will say to turn around each objection on your list. When you know what to say, learn it, so that your response is relaxed, confident, and automatic. Nothing builds confidence more effectively than having something intelligent and considered to say, whatever the situation.
Article by Clive Miller
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