“A sale isn’t something you pursue; it’s what happens to you while you are immersed in serving your customer.” —Anonymous
You may have heard a rumor that cold calling is history. I’m here to tell you it’s still very much alive. I know, because I get numerous cold calls at my office every day from people inviting me to webinars, offering me CRM tools, telling me about hiring techniques that get the best employees, and so on.
The most interesting ones are from sales people who want to teach me to cold call more effectively! Not to mention the incessant calls I get at home from telemarketers. I don’t believe cold calling will ever go away. It will just be called something different. The current buzz phrase is social calling, which is just cold calling via the Internet.
We all know prospecting is critical to building sales pipeline and cold calling is part of that effort in some sales organizations. That said, it’s important to approach cold calling in a way that makes sense. Many inside sales people must meet a daily call quota. They are encouraged to ‘smile and dial,’ which typically comes with a low hit rate and return on investment. If these sales people don’t achieve their required conversion rate for the number of calls they are making, guess what? Sales leaders increase the required number of outbound calls per day…MORE, MORE, and MORE! (This reminds me of what is often referred to as the definition of insanity: continuing to do what you’ve always done and expecting different results.)
What if, instead of conducting cold calling, we conducted value calling, defined as communicating with a targeted prospect with the intent to explore whether or not mutual value might be created?
Here are some ways that value calling can help you increase your conversion rate:
- Rethink the funnel. Instead of just dumping a bunch of account names into the top of your sales funnel and dialing for dollars, why not take a few minutes to prioritize your list? Out of all your prospective accounts, which should you focus on first, second, and third? Identify the reasons why an organization might want to speak with you and go for prospects with those issues first.
- Define value from your prospect’s point of view. Before sending a message or calling on a prospect, wouldn’t it make sense to take a few minutes to do a little research on the organization? What are the specific business objectives they are focusing on over the next one to five years? What issues or challenges would they have to be facing to have any desire to speak with you for five minutes? Gather as much intelligence as possible and leverage it in your messaging.
- Plan for your prospecting call by preparing your outreach message. Remember that the purpose of an outreach call is not to educate or schedule an appointment. In this stage of the sales cycle, your goal should be nothing more than enabling the prospect to decide whether or not it makes sense for the two of you to be talking. You aren’t trying to close the deal yet!
- Prepare for questions. Decide what questions you want to ask the prospect once you connect. What questions do you think they will have for you? Are you prepared to handle objections and pushbacks that may come up?
- Create a compelling opening statement that will spark the prospect’s interest enough to have a meeting or a phone conversation with you.
I invite you to learn more about this prospecting approach and FranklinCovey’s Filling Your Pipeline® sales training program at www.salesperformance.franklincovey.com.