Cold calling and talking to a stranger is the hardest thing anyone can do.
However, if you’re practicing customer development or conducting market research for your startup, it’s super critical to get the prospect to speak with you on the phone and not hang up. Getting to success will consist of roadblocks in the form of gatekeepers, voicemails, and testy people who are just plain grumpy.
This is the age-old debate, isn’t it? Some business professionals think that using a script is sales suicide, while others think that it’s the key to customer conversion.
The truth of the matter?
You’ll need both to see success. Use a script to refine your pitch and build confidence, but when it comes time to diversify, feel free to venture off of the page, using a natural ability, instead.
Almost seems counterintuitive to the point that precedes it, huh?
In theory, working with a script means you sound more like R2-D2 than a human of flesh and bone. This isn’t necessarily the case, though …
Here’s the hack: when a hot-button issue comes up, immediately divert from your script, zeroing in on how your brand can lend a helping hand—authenticity at its finest.
We can’t be for certain who first said it, but flip on any college or professional football game, and before long, you’re likely to hear the following phrase: “The best offense is a good defense.”
This methodology works for the Denver Broncos, but it’ll also work for you as a salesman.
Do certain objections keep coming up?
If so, jot them down, and begin building out responses to them. Depending on your business’ area of expertise, these will greatly differ, but here are three common objections to get you headed in the right direction:
“Trial and Error” is the name of this defensive strategy. The more you’re able to experiment with a well-defined series of solutions, the quicker you’ll learn what works and what doesn’t.
There are two reasons you’ll want to regularly use a prospect’s first name when placing a call:
For starters, by knowing their name (and how to pronounce it), you greatly increase your odds of getting past a decision-maker gatekeeper—secretaries, project managers, interns, etc.
From there, once you’ve made contact and are in the middle of your pitch, use your listener’s name sparingly throughout the course of the call—they’ll like the sound of it.
It’s personable, but don’t get carried away—overuse of a name will make your call sound painfully unnatural.
This is the granddaddy of go-to, cold calling faux pas.
Callers know their brand’s features like crazy. As such, they push features as hard as possible, thinking that the more they’re able to emphasize them, the warmer a buyer will become.
If you take nothing from this post, remember this—buying decisions are emotional, not logical. Because of this, focus on the benefits your products’ or services’ features will bring about.
This is what buyers are ultimately investing in—peace of mind, comfort, less stress, etc.
Why should this even matter, right? You’re on a phone call—sight isn’t a sense that’s being used.
While that may be true, smiling during a cold-calling affects more than the shape of your face …
In fact, according to a study by the University of Kansas, smiling during a stressful situation is able to lower a person’s heart rate and reduce stress.
On top of that, though nobody’s watching, smiling improves your attitude, level of confidence, and matter of speaking.
Case in point? Smile more—besides, life is too short to not spend most of it smiling, anyway.
If you’re especially nervous about placing a cold call, there’s a chance you’re secretly hoping the call goes straight to voicemail—sound familiar?
If it does, you’re going to hate what we have to say—just because nobody answers, doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. Kick your cold-calling game up a notch or two by having a great voicemail script nearby.
When crafting the copy for your script, think about what needs to be included to get someone to call back. Write it down, track callbacks and make adjustments accordingly.
You’ve heard of “power ties,” haven’t you?
There’s this bizarre idea in the world of men’s fashion that the length, shape, and color of a man’s tie can subconsciously affect the power and authority he transmits as a businessperson—it’s one of those pseudosciences, so don’t pay it much mind.
As a cold-caller, however, do pay attention to what sales gurus call “power words.”
Basically, power words are words that, psychologically speaking, tend to carry more weight when being read or heard. Below, you’ll find five of them:
Add these words to your sales scripts. Trust us on this one—you’ll be glad you did.
Asking sales leads questions not only makes them a more active, engaged part of your cold call, but it helps you get a feel for what they’re really looking for.
Once you more fully understand what worries or bothers them, you’re able to position your products or services as the best, most reliable solution.
Door-to-door salesmen have been doing this for ages—not by choice, but there’s still a benefit to making a pitch while on your feet.
When you place a call, stand tall, keeping your body as open as possible—without compromising comfort, of course.
This method allows you to better project your voice, thus providing you with the artificial confidence boost you’ll need until the emotion starts to come more naturally.
Co-workers might look at you somewhat funny, but once you see a sharp uptick in sales, they’re likely to start mimicking your style.
You can use each of the above “hacks” as frequently and effectively as you like, but you know what? Every now and again, no matter how hard you try, bad days are still going to rear their ugly heads—there’s no avoiding it.
So, when calls are routinely cut or multiple respondents decide to associate your name with some not-so-nice, four-letter words, shake it off—things will be better tomorrow.
Reward good days, and forget about the bad ones …
Cold-calling is as much a mental grind as it is a strategy.
Keep at it, and before long, while less-driven competitors decide to permanently kick cold calls to the curb, you’ll start to see the sales you’ve worked tirelessly to obtain—that’s a promise.