A tale of cold calling

This post was going to be about a really bad example of a telephone sales call but then the phone rang again and it became a story of two totally different approaches to cold calling.

How not to make a cold call

The first call came in the early evening on Wednesday; after a busy day I was struggling to get in to my WordPress account to post Thursdays blog. I was not a happy bunny. I picked up the phone, expecting it to be one of the family telling me when they would be home for a meal, to be greeted with ‘Can I speak to the IT director please?’ The caller then introduced himself and his firm in a very fast and thick foreign accent which I couldn’t understand. His next question was, ‘How are you today?’ He was unprepared for my ‘not good’ response and couldn’t understand my explanation as to why I wasn’t good. He gave up and asked if I used a Mac or a PC.

I wanted to know why he asked and he said it was because he had a special offer from Microsoft to improve my business. Now I’ve never been Microsoft’s biggest fan and they are not my ‘go to’ port of call for the changes I want to make to improve my business. I said I wasn’t interested at which point the salesman really went on to the attack! ‘You need this to improve your business. You are a training company and you need it for your database and presentations etc.’. Mmm, have you never heard of ‘death by PowerPoint’ Mr. Salesman?

Where did he go wrong?

Consider the long term value rather than immediate returns.

You will already have spotted plenty of mistakes but I will highlight just a few:

  • The salesman went straight for the sell without establishing any rapport
  • He didn’t ask questions to establish why I might need or want his product
  • He didn’t listen to what I was saying and didn’t adapt his pitch to my responses
  • He was unprepared for my objections and thought the only objection I would have would be to parting with money over the phone!
  • He was very pushy and argumentative, certainly not the way to sell to a woman or indeed anybody.

I got very firm (some might say rude) and hung up on him!

And here’s how it should be done

On Thursday morning I’d just settled down at my desk to do a full day on some data analysis and marketing planning for a client. The phone rang, a very pleasant female voice said, ‘Please forgive the interruption but I’m…..   and I wondered if you would be interested in what I do which can help you to…..  Do you have time to talk?’ I didn’t but we had a short conversation in which we established some common interests and agreed to speak in two or three weeks time. What a difference!

What did she do right?

  • She showed respect for my time and asked for permission to continue
  • She introduced herself clearly with her own and her business name
  • She explained what she did and what could be in it for me in two sentences and asked if I might be interested.
  • She concentrated on establishing rapport and interest
  • She took no for an answer but offered a reasonable alternative
  • She offered to follow up with an email which she did within the hour

I’ve had a look at her website and her offer is interesting although I don’t think I want to make the sort of long term commitment she seems to be offering. However I’m still happy to have a conversation with her and to see if there is anyway I can help her in her objective of doing more business in the London area.

In conclusion…

Cold calling isn’t easy but it can be very effective if you do it right. In the UK it is important to check that the person you are calling hasn’t registered with the telephone preference service (tps) before making a call. To increase your chance of a successful outcome:

  • Prepare what you want to say
  • Think how will you introduce yourself?
  • Plan how will you explain the purpose of your call and why the caller might be interested? Try to do this in one or two sentences.
  • Ask the recipient if it’s OK to talk now
  • As with any sales situation ask questions to establish your targets needs and wants and listen carefully to their response
  • Keep your conversation as brief as possible, remember you have interrupted your target’s schedule
  • Can you send some information or a sample to reassure your target?
  • Think what guarantees can you give for the target to trust you?
  • Remember your chances of an immediate sale aren’t high unless the person you are calling has a need or desire for your product or service at the time you call, so how will you cope with their objections?
  • Think what you could do to maintain a dialogue if the target isn’t interested in purchasing today
  • Above all keep your call brief and courteous and focus on building the relationship  which could lead to a sale in the future

Glenda Shawley of The Training Pack helps small businesses to grow by finding ways to sell more to new and existing customers. To find out how we can help you email blog@thetrainingpack.co.uk

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