One of the most powerful sales skills you can learn is how to book a meeting with cold calling. If you are building your own business, booking meetings with cold calling is one of the best ways to get the opportunity to pitch your product. If you work in a sales organisation, there is a good chance that booking meetings using the phone is where you start your sales career.
Would you be surprised to know that cold calling and meeting booking is one of the weakest skills that exist in sales. Just think of all the times you have been called and how many of those were actually a positive experience. I’m pretty sure you’ll agree that there is a need for people to be better at booking meetings in this way.
The good news is there are a few simple steps you can take to get better at booking meetings. Follow these simple steps and I promise your calendar will be overbooked with meetings in no time.
Sales Is A Contact Sport
Please don’t read this article thinking this is a shortcut to hard work. I promise you, there is no way to avoid picking up the phone. Don’t mistake social reach outs and perfectly crafted emails for real prospecting activity. You will always get more nos and no answers than you will get yeses, so your number of calls will always be a predictor of success. Prepare your prospect list in advance and set defined time aside just for prospecting efforts.
Every Call Is An Interruption
I hate to break it to you but your prospect is not sitting there waiting for you to call. No, your call is going to be an interruption, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t going to be positive. Instead of apologising (after all, they picked up!), think about how you feel when you get interrupted. Do you want someone rambling on and wasting your time? Of course not. So instead, be concise, get straight to the point, and make the call valuable. Don’t waste their time with fillers such as “how is your day?”, this just wastes valuable seconds, and let’s face it, you don’t really care at this point.
Pitch The Meeting, Not The Product
What am I going to get from this meeting other than a sales pitch from you? No one has time for you to sit there and go through your slide deck, no matter how cool the animations may be. But they will take time out if they can learn something, find a way they can do things better, or uncover secrets their competitors are using. Your sales meeting has to be valuable itself. Show that you are going to invest time in educating your prospect and that this may help them make a good customer decision.
Solid Value Proposition
At some point, you will be asked “why is this a good solution for me?” or some derivative of this question. You need to come back with a professional (but not too slick!) response that highlights the value I will get as a prospect. Be concise and deliver a powerful response. If you haven’t spent time practicing, don’t expect your prospect to be happy about being your guinea pig. This is where sales training, role play and practice kick in so make sure you invest some time in delivering this message.
Why Are You Calling Me?
Unless you literally playing darts with a phone book, there is a reason you called this prospect. You targeted them, believe them to be a good potential customer and someone who is more likely to buy than others. Sharing your targeting criteria in a way that makes your prospect feel valued and pre-qualified helps them understand this is going to be less of a waste of time. Link a demographic or psychographic quality to a key benefit or impact of your product and let them know this will be of value to them specifically.
The Default Answer Is No
Imagine each call to be a little bit like a rodeo. Your prospect is the bull and has been conditioned to try and shake you off the call. It doesn’t matter how good your pitch is, for most prospects, the default answer is no. Instead of being derailed, understand that “no” is when you go to work. Up until no, that work is easy and anyone could do that bit. The true sales professional realises they may need to add a little more value to get the prospect to fully commit, and manage to keep the momentum going even when the prospect seems to be losing interest. Persistence and passion go a long way in sales.
Pro Tip – Plant Seeds You Will Reap In The Meeting.
After you have booked the meeting, your prospect will likely forget the specifics of your call. Later when they look at your calendar invitation, they’ll be questioning whether they actually want to attend. At this point you want then to remember that there is a reason to attend, even if they can’t remember exactly what that is. Phrases such as “when we get to the meeting, make sure we go over XYZ” or “that’s a great question so make sure you bring it up in our meeting!” will plant seeds that the prospect will remember, even if they don’t remember the specifics.
Question – To Prepare Or Not To Prepare?
Should you prepare for a cold call, and if so, how much? You definitely need to do enough to show you can add value to the client and not waste their time. However, you also need to realise there is a good chance the prospect. Will not answer, so any prep you do should be recorded in a CRM so you can access it next time you try to call. The big mistake I see people making is over-preparing, which is often a way to disguise not getting on the phone. This is a judgment call, but easy to slip into excess preparation and avoid actually making the call.
Listen For Commitment
Just because a prospect says yes, doesn’t mean they are committed. Often times, it is easier to say yes and avoid upsetting the person in the phone than it is to say no. The problem is when you turn up to the meeting, your prospect is nowhere to be seen. Instead, keep a keen ear out for incongruence in their voice. Does your prospect sound completely excited about the meeting? If not, just check in on their enthusiasm levels before booking the meeting in your diary. By checking in with your prospect on those occasions you aren’t sure if they are committed, you will certainly reduce your no-show rate.
I hope these tips give you a few ideas on how to be more successful at booking a meeting with cold calling. For more advice, be sure to grab a copy of the Next Level Persuasion book.