Let’s face it, cold calling is one of the best ways to get in front of new customers. Businesses have been using this technique for years with huge amounts of success. The film Pursuit Of Happiness show us what can happen if you get good at cold calling. So why do so many people still suck at cold calling?
It happened to me again today. I had a call from someone who it would appear does not enjoy her job, or at least that is the impression she gave me when she started talking about what she could offer. Ok, business services might not be the most exciting of things to sell, but at least pretend to be interested. I actually know about the service she was talking about and it may be useful to me, but she did such a bad job I just couldn’t agree to the appointment she was offering me.
Businesses spend so much time, money and energy getting these leads and contacts for the salespeople, so how do they get it so wrong? All they need to do is pick up the phone, dial and connect with the customer in some way. At least then they would have a chance of pitching for a sale.
There are so many ways to improve your cold calling, and you should definitely work on every area of your telephone manner. However, if you exhibit any of the following six bad habits then you are going to be making it really hard for yourself.
Bad Habit 1 – Not Be Ready For The Call
The phone rings, you pick up and in the background you can hear fumbling, coughing, chatting, the familiar rustle of a packet of crisps. A few more seconds go by before the telephone operator finally realises you are there and says “Hello, is that Mr Davies?”. Errr, no!
Getting the name wrong happens, but there should be no excuse for not being ready for the call. Dialling systems are there to help improve your productivity, not reduce your quality so take advantage of them.
Use the time in between calls to get ready. Have your headset on in preparation for the call. Have your workspace clear of clutter so you can take notes if necessary. When the data flashes up, be ready for it, not distracted by something going on elsewhere.
That conversation you are about to mess up by not being ready for the call could have been the one that lead you to hit your target, generate referrals and earn great commissions. Instead, you got off to a bad start and didn’t recover.
Bad Habit 2 – Sounding Generic
Face it, when a sales person calls you, all you want to do is get off the phone. You know they are a sales person, and even if they tell you they aren’t going to try and sell you something (which you know they will) you really don’t want to talk to them. Certain industries even have a voice which enables you to tell what that person does – I’m talking about estate agents, you can tell them a mile away.
Anyway, if you sounds generic, there is a far greater chance you are going to get bounced from the call, especially if you are the tenth call that prospect has received that day. So you need to sound a little different. I’m not talking strange, odd or comedic, but have something about your tone that gets people to pay attention.
For example, talk with more authority than others, be more confident, seem intrigued or speak at a different speed or tone to other people in your industry. Each of these changes could set you apart from the others.
Your prospect will make a whole lot of judgements about you just from the way you sound on the phone. What does your telephone voice convey about you and what kind of voice would your customers respond better to?
Bad Habit 3 – No Energy Or Passion
You look at the clock and there is three minutes to go. You shuffle some papers but then realise you are being watched and pick up the phone to make your 200th call of the day. You almost fall asleep when you hear your own voice, so imagine what your customer is experiencing.
Before you think I am telling you to pull out the pom poms, relax, this isn’t a cheerleading session. However, it doesn’t matter what you are selling, how long your shift is or how many years you have been doing this job, you need to have some passion and belief about your product, and your voice should portray that.
You are conveying the brand of the company and every call you make has the potential to earn you a lot of commission. Every single call you make should have the same level of quality, belief and passion that will impress potential clients and get them to sign with you.
If you don’t portray energy in your voice, don’t make the call. Get up, do some star jumps, grab a coffee, run around the block, listen to some motivational music or do whatever you need to get back into the zone. Imagine if you spoke to someone who sounded like that. Do you think you would buy from them? Treat each call as if it could be a winning lottery ticket.
Bad Habit 4 – Not Having A Clear Defined Pitch
Good news, you made it through the gatekeeper… now what? Remember, your prospect is going to be making a thousand judgements about you right from the start, so you need to impress them with your opening pitch. Like the serve in tennis, your opening needs to put you in control of the conversation and send the right messages to your new potential client.
If you waffle at the start, you are going to portray all sorts of doubt and uncertainty, and your prospect is going to assume that you are wasting their time. Instead, you need to develop a concise, powerful and direct opening that will impress the client without coming across as too slick.
Know what you want to say before the call. Have an outline of the flow of the conversation. Write out specific questions you need to have answered. Know how your prospect is likely to respond so you can predict the next step. Practice until you accidentally answer your home phone with this same pitch.
Bad Habit 5 – Not Engaging Me In The Call
Can you imagine if you went to a doctor and before you even told them what was wrong with you they had written out your prescription? This is exactly what you are doing when you don’t ask any questions.
Habit 5 of Stephen Covey’s book the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People states ’Seek first to understand, then be understood’ and every salesperson should read this book. In this case, why do some cold callers deem it ok to waffle on about their product for 5 minutes before they even ask a question. How can you possibly know what you are offering works for me without trying to find out a little about my situation?
Please don’t jump into your sales pitch immediately. Don’t read from the script so rigidly that a two way conversation becomes impossible. Don’t assume you know your client’s situation. Engage the person in the call, ask questions, be curious.
Bad Habit 6 – Lie To Me Immediately
There are a few industries that use this approach regularly – double glazing salespeople, I’m talking to you. “Remember me, we spoke last year about your fascias and you told us to call back now to arrange an appointment?”. Strange, I haven’t lived in that property for over 5 years.
Immediately we are off to the worst possible start. Don’t try and trick your way into rapport, it is such a short-term approach to sales and even if you book an appointment will end up leaving a nasty aftertaste that taints and kind of relationship moving forward.
Instead, try honesty, but why not add some value up front? Tell me why you are calling and what’s in it for me. Get this across quickly and concisely and find out if I am interested. Educate me, I don’t even know what a fascia is or does, so why would I want it replaced? Whatever you do, please don’t lie to me.
So, hopefully none of these bad habits feature in your approach to cold calling. If they do, you might just find that you are making things unnecessarily difficult for yourself. If that is the case, get some coaching, listen to recordings of your calls and try to improve on the areas that need attention. Good luck.