How To Make a Flawless Cold Call- PART 2

Hi winners!

This is part 2 of my blog titled- How To Make a Flawless Cold Call

This part will cover points 4 through 6 and complete the series for you.

I hope that the points that I have raised have helped you make some quick notes and create a personal playbook that you can refer to, wherever you may be, which part of the world you may be working today and in the future!!

These points sure helped me succeed in India and Africa…so the logic is, if they worked in these 2 very tough markets, it should be a cinch in the mature markets of the US and Europe ….right??!!

So here goes….

STEP #4: SCHEDULE THE RIGHT TIME

You’ll never get the cold calling done unless you schedule a regular time each week to make the calls.  The trick here is scheduling your cold calling at the times when prospects are most likely to agree to a future meeting and thus become a potential customer.

The “right time” varies according to whether you’re working from a static list (like one built from the search of a database) or working on leads being fed to you from a web site where potential prospects are constantly coming and going.

If you’re working from a list, the best day to call is Thursday while the worst day to call is Friday.  In addition, the best times to call are 8am to 9am and 4pm to 5pm, while the worst time to call is 1pm to 2pm.

If you’re working from a website feed, the best time to call is within 5 minutes from the time that the potential prospect was viewing your website.  Turns out you are 4 times more likely to successfully qualify a lead if you call within 5 minutes than if you call between 5 and 10 minutes. And you are 21 times more likely to qualify a lead if you call within 5 minutes than if you wait for 30 minutes.

STEP #5: GET THE RIGHT ATTITUDE

Most of your success in cold calling will depend not upon your product or the quality of your leads, but on your attitude as you approach the cold-calling process. Here are five tips to help you achieve the best attitude for this part of your job:

Use a headset, not a handset. You want both hands free so that you can talk as if you’re talking in person.

Sit up straight and smile. If you’re slumped and frowning, the prospect will “sense” it, even from a distance.

Visualize success. Think of a time when you won a big sale. Put your mind and memory and emotions in that place.

Practice your script. Practice what to say if you reach a gatekeeper and what to say if you reach a decision-maker.

Lay aside your sales goals. These get in the way if you focus too much on them. It’s about the customer, not about you.

STEP #6: MAKE THE CALLS

You are now ready to make your cold calls.  Remember, cold calling is a process of disqualifying leads, not finding prospects for your pipeline

This is a VERY important point. As my boss often pointed out to me, “cold calling” is a “discarding” or “disqualifying” process, like panning for gold or digging for diamonds. You have to turn over a lot of dirt before you find the gems.

If you fail to get this, you’re destined to get frustrated. So, rather than trying to get as many leads as possible into the pipeline, use the cold calling process to avoid wasting time and effort on people who will never buy.

Because of this, you must make a point to make every cold call into a “win.”  It’s a BIG WIN every time you can scratch a “lead” off your list, because that means you’re not going to be chasing wild geese around mulberry bushes.

 

Hope you liked my posts….keep writing and keep connected!

Hi readers,

When I started my career in 1992, I was introduced to the power of the sales pitch by my mentors who came from the old school. At that time, the sales pitch was king.

The sales pitch had to be perfected to a point that you knew that pitch by heart, and that was THE critical element of hooking the client.

Well, circa 2012, and Solutions marketing is fast gaining over traditional marketing and with that , sales strategy is evolving.

Today, successful sales reps know that, far from being a “sales pitch,” every customer meeting is an opportunity to strengthen the relationship and to engage with the customer with a long term perspective.

there are 3 simple rules that the sales rep of today can follow in order to evolve from a slick , fast talking, fast thinking sales pro, to a more strategic thinking, solutions oriented, business partner to his customer.

  • RULE #1: Always seek the truth.  You want to find out if you really have something that can help the customer.  To do this, the meeting must be a quest to discover the real areas where the two of you can work together. Quick tip: your customer knows that you’re telling the truth when you’re not afraid to say something negative (but true) about your product or company.
  • RULE #2: Always keep an open mind. When you walk into a customer meeting absolutely convinced that the customer needs your product or service, the customer will sense you’re close-minded and become close-minded in return.  If, by contrast, you’re open to the idea that the customer might be better served elsewhere, the customer will sense that you’ve got his or her best interests at heart and will be more likely to listen to what you have to say.
  • RULE #3: Always have a real dialog. A customer meeting should be a conversation, not a mere sales call.  This means that you should be listening to the customer at least half of the time that’s spent at the meeting.  Furthermore, the dialog should be substantive and about real business issues, not just office patter or chit-chat about sports.

The Salesperson of the Future: A Profile reference for the “Future Ready” Sales performer!

Hi readers,

The future is upon us, it is now!

Evolution of the critical role of sales in an ever evolving , global market place is a reality that we in sales must willingly embrace and be willing to change for in order to maintain our continued relevance.

I know this is easier said than done; BUT it is not impossible.

This blog is based on my learning from the Solutions Marketing course at the HULT Business School, Boston. Extensive reading and submissions of papers pertaining to the future of marketing set me thinking about the sales person of the future, keeping in step with changing marketing requirements.

The result is this ready reckon er for current sales reps to consider making changes to themselves so that they are battle ready for the foreseeable future!

According to my research….The salesperson of the future will be…

  • …introverted rather than extroverted. Traditionally, most of the people drawn to a sales career have been of the “interesting extrovert” variety but, today, the “interested introverts” often do better because they tend to be curious about the customer and more willing to let the customer dominate the conversation, as opposed to the extrovert who is constantly trying to prove how interesting he or she is. Source: sales guru Tom Hopkins.
  • …a collaborator rather than a communicator. With the Internet, the customer and the sales rep typically knows a great deal about each other’s firms.  As a result, the selling process becomes a matter of filling out the details and coming to a deeper understanding. Rather than providing information, the seller participates in a mutual educational process between the supplier and the consumer of a product or service. Source: Bob Carr, CEO of Heartland Payment Systems.
  • …a negotiator rather than a convincer. Traditionally, selling was seen as a way to change the preferences of a potential buyer so that he or she is more likely to buy.  Over the past 20 years, however, this has undergone a big shift, so that sales is now seen as a negotiation skill that helps people reach agreement. Source: Max H. Bazerman, Professor, Harvard Business School.
  • …an expert rather than a generalist. Because sales jobs are becoming more specialized and professional, it is easier to teach the sales process than it is to teach business knowledge.  For example, companies that provide process control systems to refineries now look to hire individuals who have been refinery managers, while companies selling ER management software look to hire ER nurses.  Source: Jeff Thull, CEO of Prime Resource Group
  • …a professional rather than a tyro. Business schools are taking sales more seriously.  Universities are definitely adding sales into the curriculum, even though in the past it was not considered theoretical enough.  Sales as a profession has gained status as people, both in business and in academia, realize that sales engagements are much more complex than in the past.

These ideas are definitely turning all known sales axioms on their head because they come from some of the best thought leaders in their fields.

This is certainly serious food for thought and for assimilation at the highest priority!

The Six Rules of Selling for Start-ups

Hi readers,

This blog is a result of my current professional engagements with 2 great start-ups, that I believe will disrupt our markets in India and empower the key stakeholders in their respective eco-systems, like never before.

THATs why I am with them!!

START-UP number 1 – Confidential / Secret/- Disruptive tech based and enabled platform for the $ 5 billion marriage services market.

START-UP number 2- http://www.fleximoms.in/ – Disrupting the flexible work niche in the labor market in Indian AND empowering women (yaay!!) at the same time!! (Double yaay!!)

These 2 great start-ups define awesomeness! and as I would say in Boston, …they are WICKED cool !!

So , the question is you have a tech enabled platform, ready to rumble and roll, NOW WHAT?

Well…revenues silly!

Who gets the revenues? The sales team of course?

And how do they do it in a start up? thats the million dollar question I wanna answer in this blog- hope you like it…

Selling for a startup presents unique challenges even for highly experienced sales professionals. Because your company is new, your potential customers don’t know anything about it and, sad to say, in business unfamiliarity breeds contempt. Not to worry, though. Here are the six rules of selling for startups:

  1. You are an entrepreneur. You aren’t in a big company, so ultimately the only person you can really count on to get things done is yourself. Don’t hesitate to do whatever it takes to move the sale forward, even if it means giving up your weekends.
  2. Don’t be afraid to bail. If a deal doesn’t make sense for your company, it’s not worth pursuing. Don’t let wishful thinking propel you into wasted effort. For example, if you can’t meet with the real decision-maker, you aren’t going to get the business. Period. Move on, without regrets.
  3. Don’t be taken advantage of. Insist that every customer relationship is a relationship between equals. Adopt a policy of “Quid Pro Quo” – that anything the customer or prospect asks you to do give you the right to ask them to do something comparable in return.
  4. Believe in your greatest strength. What startups offer customers is unique, and that’s good news, because top executives don’t have the time to sit with down with cookie-cutter sales reps, but always have time for somebody who can redefine problems and devise solutions.
  5. Don’t scuttle your credibility. Never take on an apologetic air, try to explain away the inexperience of your firm, or (ugh!) beg for the business. Savvy customers can smell fear and will ask for steep discounts or even amuse themselves by making you jump through meaningless hoops.
  6. Dare to be honest. Share your feelings with the prospect to move the sale forward. If you believe that the customer is treating you unfairly or asking too much, respectfully point out why you see the situation that way and then ask for reasonable concessions.

Effective Sales Questions that get results!

Hi readers,

This blog follows the other topics on which I have written about in the past weeks.

During the training programs that I attended and conducted over the last 18 years, I was often asked, and I myself asked of my trainers- which are the best questions to ask your clients/customers, so that the response meets your key objectives in the sales process?

By compiling elements that I learnt through class room training, numerous Rank Xerox PPS (Professional Selling Skills) programs and field sales experience I have come up with the following questions that I believe are effective , cutting across domains and verticals.

While these questions are primarily derived from my experience with B2B clients, I suspect that they will prove to be just as effective in the B2G  ( Business to Government) business eco-systems. ( Let me have your views as I have no understanding of this space)

Here are the fourteen absolutely indispensable questions ( power tools)  that should be in every sales rep’s bag of tricks:

  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. What can you tell me about your priorities?
  6. What prompted you to start this project now?
  7. What can you tell me about your decision-making process?
  8. How do you handle budget considerations?
  9. What other options are you looking at?
  10. What can you tell me about the people involved in the process?
  11. What obstacles are in the way of moving this forward?
  12. How will you be evaluating different options?
  13. How will the funding for the project be justified?
  14. How much support does this have at the executive level?

According to me –

Get the answers to these questions, and take action based on those answers, and you’ll get the sale. It’s that simple.

This is based on the KISS principle- Keep it simple and sweet!

The Seven Deadly Sins of Selling

Hi readers,

I have been blogging at length about sales management, selling skills, personal attributes of great sales stars, selling acumen and so on.

I also wrote about the tricks that our customers play on us and watching to see if we would blink, and then take advantage of our intrinsic weakness to “close the sale” and achieve our quota targets….

I have been meaning to speak of 7 major points that for me are the proverbial “deadly sins” that often impede our performance as sales professionals.

These are the Seven Deadly Sins of Selling.

  1. SIN #1: Not being personally accountable. Don’t pass the buck somebody else in your firm; your customers want your personal skin in the game.
  2. SIN #2: Failing to understand the customer’s business. Don’t expect customers to answer dozens of questions just because you didn’t do your research.
  3. SIN #3: Being an adversary, not an ally. Since customers are risking their career doing business with you, they expect you to represent their best interests.
  4. SIN #4: Selling products not solutions. Don’t burden customers with features and functions; tell them how your solution will help their business.
  5. SIN #5: Being inaccessible when needed. If customers are important to you, you’ll answer their email or voice mail within minutes, not hours.
  6. SIN #6: Selling rather than helping. Customers want you to be thinking about how to help their firm, not how to sell your products.
  7. SIN #7: Wasting the customer’s time. If your solution isn’t the right choice for the customer, say so.  Don’t waste their time pitching something they don’t need.

Three Key Changes That Drive Sales Success

Hi Readers,

During my roles in solutions sales B2B businesses, I was often asked by my team members about my mantra for success.

My answer , based on my analysis, was the following- make 3 critical changes in the way you engage with your clients, internalise these changes, and you will have been served well .

These 3 changes that I mention are-

  • CHANGE #1: Describe what you’re selling as a “verb” rather than a “noun.” For example, suppose you’re selling for an industrial glue manufacturer. If you think that your job is to sell “glue” (a noun), you’ll talk to the customer about product features.  If you think your job is to sell “gluing” (a verb), you will tend to uncover your customer’s gluing needs.  Then you can show your offering can fulfill that need.

Another example that I can give here is when I was selling packaging solutions- I would never go and tell my client that I am selling packaging, BUT that I was selling his brand , profitably. This sort of had “shock value” in a market, where all my competitors, were selling packaging, and I was the only exception, selling my client’s brand and that too with a profit- therefore the engagement became more of a solution as opposed to a me-too, product, competing on price. Needless to say that my rate of client conversion was way higher than that of my competitors! Now think of applying that to chemicals industry…that’s another story folks!

 

  • CHANGE #2: Think about selling as helping the customer rather than making a sale. To do this, you simply expunge from your mental vocabulary the standard ways of describing sales process, like “convincing,” “persuading,” and “overcoming.”  Instead, you reframe the selling process of visualizing, with the customer, how (if they had your product) their problems might be solved and their goals achieved.

Guys, if you want to stand out from the crowd of other sales reps in the market, you seriously need to develop superior, communication skills to begin with, and slowly easing into story telling skills, using both visual as well as non visual formats to tell your story to your client- this follows from the change # 1 that I spoke of earlier. First use the change#1, and then follow up by using story telling skills to make a lasting impact.

 

  • CHANGE #3. Consider a sales call successful even when you don’t make a sale. Many salespeople get so caught up in “winning” that they foist unwanted products onto the customer. Rather than adopting a dogged determination to make the sale, make it clear — first in your own head and then directly to the customer –  that you’re more than willing to leave if you can’t actually help the customer.

This comes from having a  high EQ. Simple.