The 10 best questions to warm up a cold prospect

Hi readers,

Apologies for the sabbatical from my blogs…been busy on-boarding in my new avatar as Vice President Business Development of a great technology startup that will disrupt the social media space in the remote , rural , under-served, economically deprived, Bottom of the Pyramid Markets. The company I speak of is called GramVaani media (http://www.gramvaani.org/)

All this while I have addressed a distinguished gathering at the Rockefeller foundation‘s , Rock Talk event, and participated at the RMAI round table.

During all this, I have had the opportunity to engage with a group of very bright, young women who are raring to have a go at key account management and sales with a great new  platform that is poised to disrupt the wedding services space in India.

They posed a very good question to me- what would be set of some basic key questions that could warm up a cold prospect in the first meeting, agnostic to the vertical or the profile of the prospect (client). And I started to think on this and came up with this list that I believe would serve many who have the same question bothering them.

here goes…

  1. What can you tell me about your organization… and yourself?
  2. What do you like about what you’re currently doing?
  3. What don’t you like about your current situation?
  4. What would you like to be enhanced or improved?
  5. Have you spoken to other solution providers to address your current specific challenge?
  6. What can you tell me about your priorities and your options?
  7. What obstacles are there in the way of this initiative moving forward?
  8. What will be your criterion of evaluating different options if at all?
  9. How much have your budgeted for this proposal/project?
  10. When do you wish to start?

Try these questions with a cold prospect and write back to me with your inputs and comments…

more than happy to ideate with you !

Happy reading

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Getting excited about Cold Calls!

Hi “cold feet Claude”

Is cold calling getting the better of you lately?

Is , trying to sell a product or service to an unknown and unqualified prospect getting to be so confronting that it freezes you  into a state of inaction? Are you daunted and stopped dead in your tracks at the prospect of making cold calls?

Well , Claude, you are not alone, and I have been there!!

Sadly, as the need for cold calling frequently accompanies the launch of a new business, or the launch of a new offering, such inaction

(caused due to numerous reasons)  can have dire consequences for your personally and definitely for the business.

Let’s try to fix it by looking at what actually causes our dislike and then introduce some new strategies- shall we?

  • Not surprisingly, the biggest reaction that’s generated by cold calling is the fear of failure. We know the incidence of sale is extremely low; we know the chances of even getting to the decision-maker are slim; is it therefore any wonder we are fearful of failure?
  • Running a close second, is the fear of rejection. No one likes to be rejected at the best of times and less so when the rejection is at best, abrupt and at times, downright rude.
  • The third fear is that of giving offence. It’s natural we don’t want to be seen as a nuisance — after all, this is not the atmosphere we look to foster with a potential customer.

So, we know cold calling has a low success rate; we know it generates fear of failure, fear of rejection and fear of offending. How can we combat this and move forward with any degree of positive action?

I reckon the answer lies in our measurements of success.

Imagine you set yourself the goal of making twenty-five cold calls to set up meetings to promote your business.

Now let’s assume that twenty-three of the calls are met with either rejection or total failure to connect with a decision-maker.

In this scenario, the chances are you’d be feeling pretty miserable. You might feel like you’ve failed in twenty-three out of twenty-five of the calls. And you’d be right.

Imagine instead, you had approached the exercise with this goal:

‘To attract people who are genuinely interested in hearing about my work’

By choosing your language carefully and not linking your goal to a finite number of calls or sales, it is possible to switch the emphasis away from the fears of what may be coming (failure, rejection, offence) and more towards your sense of what you’re actually hearing.

By listening out for those ‘who are genuinely interested’ it is possible to quickly disqualify anyone appearing unsuitable or disinterested. Through these means, you’ll move more quickly to the next call and with a greater sense of purpose. What’s more, you’ll do so without being rendered inactive through fear.

Too easy? Try it and you’ll see why successful telesales people are able to make call after call, seemingly totally unfazed by any of the classic fears.

Confession– This piece is motivated by a patch in my life as a sales professional when I went through this rut myself and it was a friend of mine who worked in a BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) firm who put me through the paces and taught me how to overcome my fears on cold calling.

This piece also helps young sales reps to understand how to qualify a serious lead through the process of cold calling, which is very important!

 

Ten Ways to Make Cold Calling Easy

Hi Readers,

This blog is a natural follow up to the blog that I posted yesterday which drew numerous visits…thanks for your continued interest and for the shares.

Yesterday I spoke of the ways to conquer your fear of cold calling https://ashishtandon.wordpress.com/2013/02/17/how-to-conquer-fear-of-cold-calling/

In this post I would like to touch upon the topic of ways to make cold calling easy and also FUN!! Yes Cold calling can be real fun and can help you break the monotony of your daily routine!! Dont believe me , then read on….

Many sales professionals dread cold calling, and that included me when I had just come on board as a sales rep with J&J in 1992.

And that dread, unfortunately, makes them ineffective when they pick up the phone to make the calls. If you’re not careful, you can end up in a cycle, where your fear of cold calling creates more failure, making you hate it even more.

It needn’t be that way. Fear (or hate) of cold calling is a very solvable problem,

The following according to me , are the suggested ten best ways to overcome the fear of cold calling…

  1. Make some phone calls. The fear that you’re creating for yourself is far worse than the reality of cold calling so overcome fear by doing.
  2. Make a lot of phone calls. The more calls you make, the more success you will have and the less you’ll notice the ones that don’t work out.
  3. Prepare. Know the goal, what you want to say, how you want to say it and how you want to represent yourself, your company, and your offering.
  4. Practice. Practice your cold calling conversation out loud and role-play with friends or colleagues. Then focus on your prospect rather than your fear.
  5. Start easy. Begin with your less important leads. Once you feel more comfortable, start working on the more important leads.
  6. Stay calm. If a prospect is rude, remember that they’re probably just be having a bad day and then move on. Don’t take it personal.
  7. Don’t project. Your priorities and your prospect’s priorities are different. Don’t read negative meaning into early conversations with your prospect.
  8. Keep your perspective. Some things are out of your control. But what is within your control is continuing to prospect and continuing to make calls.
  9. Make it a Game. Give yourself 1 point for every “no” answer, when you reach 100, give yourself a prize. (If a prospect says “yes,” that’s a bonus!)
  10. Have fun. The fate of the world does not rest on you and your telephone, so loosen up and be creative.

 

How to Conquer Fear of Cold Calling

Hi readers,

Apologies for the sabbatical. Been travelling all over the place to deliver to folks who have retained my services as a consultant.

Well…. recently traveled to a client in Mumbai and he asked me to do a workshop for him for his sales team. As is my practice, I began with personal interviews with the sales team members and realized by the end of the day that the highest common factor ( remember our 2nd grade math!) that impedes their performance was FEAR OF COLD CALLING!

That set me thinking and I began to analyze first the reasons for this underlying fear…and my assessment revealed the following

  • Fear #1: Fear of Sounding Stupid. You’re afraid that once you have a target in your sights , and you are able to muster enough courage to just walk up to his door without an appointment,you will stumble and be turned away from his door by his secretary.  This is not a fear of “rejection”; this fear comes from not having mastered the skill of converting a conversation into an appointment over a telephone call.
  • Fear #2: Fear of Wasted Effort. You’re afraid that you’re not “working” the target correctly; that you are in a random pursuit.  A call here, a call there; leave this voicemail; craft an email, etc., etc. . You’re flailing and you fear your results will correspondingly flail and your efforts will be ineffective.
  • Fear #3: Fear of Lousy Process. You have the same hesitation and take the same deep breath you would take before starting to put clothes on the drying line in fierce a wind storm. Experience says that, even if you’re successful in getting the appointment, there is no efficient way to develop and close the deal.

Post this assessment, my question was- now we know the fears, so now what?

So I came up with a simple 3 point program to help address the fears mentioned and identified above – and these tips are

  • Step #1: Develop Your Skills. Either through available training or available written material work to improve the ability to control the flow of the conversation, to handle pushback’s and to secure an agreement to meet.  You must learn how to deftly and professionally handle the predictable negative responses to a request for an appointment and still secure an appointment.  As a result, you’ll feel the confidence that comes from being able to control the conversation.

Step #2: Adopt a Sales Methodology. Find (or create) a written methodology that sets in place the specific pursuit of any group of suspects, including how many times to call, the frequency of those calls and the messaging used in voicemails, emails, and/or videos. Developing the “Best Practice” model will eliminate the feeling of flailing or being caught up in a random pursuit going nowhere

Step #3: Measure and Adapt. Either manually or with available technology develop a way to execute your best practice and training in a way that enables you to track the pursuit of targets very precisely and in the most efficient way. By tracking activity you will gain control and give purpose to your telephone activity. You can begin to determine how many initial appointments you need to make quota, how many conversations you need to get those appointments, how many calls you need to make that conversation goal.

P.S- Marketing has a crucial role to play in ensuring their sales team members are empowered through various devices ( training, sales playbooks, technology, tools etc) and have the confidence to go out there and get their business and makes their quotas!!

Hope this helps my brothers in the sales teams across the world!!

7 Steps to a Perfect Cold Call

Hi readers,

Cold calling can be quite intimidating for many sales reps….but it is ultimately a process into itself and when done correctly can be quite rewarding.

Fact is that cold calling is your best friend when the chips are down (read- bad economy, loads of competition in the same geography and in the same dwindling niche!)

so here goes…

  • Step 1. Research a list of prospects.  Before making your calls, research your prospects. Look for prospects who have a similar profile to those who have bought from the past.  They’ll be easier to sell.  Next to each prospect, note any of your current customers in the prospect’s industry, region, job classification, or anything else that might help you to position your offering.  Don’t spend a lot of time on this, just find out enough so that you can pitch using terms that the prospect can understand.
  • Step 2. Build your script.  Once you know whom you’re going to call, focus on what you’re going to say. Write a brief script (no more than three or four sentences) that introduces who you are, what you do, and what you provide. An effective script asks for the appointment early.  Please note that the purpose of the script is NOT to communicate substantive information about your offering. Instead, the purpose of the phone call is to win the right to actually sell to the prospect.
  • Step 3. Anticipate objections.  Each time one of them materializes, you’ll need to handle them appropriately… and then ask for the appointment. Most objections are common to all sales situations, so you should have little or no trouble listing them out. The trick here is to practice handling objections until the response is automatic.  Note: the most important part of handling the objection is asking for the appointment.
  • Step 4. Get positive and get calling.  Attitude is everything. If your offering has value to the customer, you’re doing the prospect a favor by giving him or her the opportunity to meet with you. Therefore, have confidence in your ability to provide value. That confidence not only helps you communicate more effectively, it provides the motivation that will drive you to actually sit down and start making the cold calls.
  • Step 5. Leave a message (if necessary).  If you end up in the contact’s voice mail system, don’t despair. Leave a very brief message based upon your calling script. However, rather than setting a time for an appointment, say that you’ll be calling back on a certain date and time, but would appreciate a callback. The next time you call, ask the admin if the contact is in. If not, tell the admin that you’ve been trying to connect with the contact and would like to know when would be a good time to call.
  • Step 6. Handle the objections.  Once you’ve got the contact on the line, execute the script. Don’t read it!  Put it into your own words, with enthusiasm. In almost every case, you will get at least one, and probably more, objections. Since you’ve anticipated these objections, you should respond to them as necessary and then ask for the appointment again. If you receive more than 3 objections, it’s fair to assume that the prospect is not going to meet with you, so thank the prospect and politely end the call.
  • Step 7. Repeat the process on a daily basis. if you’re determined to excel, commit to an hour a day attempting to achieve two appointments. If it takes fifteen minutes to get the two appointments, then you can quit early. Practice this regularly and, according to Andrea, you’ll very quickly have a calendar full of qualified prospects.