With all the technology firepower available today to salespeople, it’s understandable why many of us don’t use the phone anymore. The problem is that it is so easy to delete, unsubscribe, and opt-out of our attempts to reach them, never mind even starting a relationship with them.
With all the technology firepower available today to salespeople, it’s understandable why many of us don’t use the phone anymore. With automated email deployment programs, lead scoring/nurturing systems, and “smart” video tracking software – much of the legwork can be done for us. It is as simple as loading up your pipeline from a credible data source, developing smart emails with intriguing headlines, deploying your campaigns through one of the many off-the-shelf online CRM programs available – and then sitting back and watching your dashboards and alerts light-up.
As a new biz person, I know lots of agencies that use these automated lead generation programs to fill their pipeline. I use them myself as a trolling tactic looking for hand-raisers who actually open and read one of my messages.
But I often wonder if our prospects feel automated as well? With a constant stream of unsolicited emails in their inbox from people and companies they don’t know, it is so easy to delete, unsubscribe, and opt-out to our attempts to reach, not to mention, starting a relationship with them.
At the risk of sounding old school, I must admit that the phone is my primary tool that I use to reach my most-desirable prospects. And yes, I make cold-calls – about 30-40 attempts a day (an attempt is the number of times you actually pick up the phone and dial the number). Over the years, I have found that a disciplined approach to professional persistence can pay-off (so to speak) and help you make your numbers.
Cold calling is typically not a skill most agencies teach their new business people. The phrase itself conjures up visions of a sleazy used car salesperson. But with practice, one can become good on the phone and start to break through the clutter of automated prospecting. Here are some tips to help you make the phone your friend:
Find a reliable data source that has direct phone numbers of the contacts you need to reach. Lots of people who claim to make cold-calls are simply spending their time tracking down the information they need vs. making the actual call. (Access Confidential is a great support resource for this)
- Do your homework. Research your prospects’ industry, their company, their competition, identify what might be their business challenges, be aware of current campaigns they are running, their target consumer, new product launches, new personnel, etc.
- Develop a list of open-ended questions based on your research. Write down smart, open-ended questions that will help you guide the conversation and hopefully reveal the opportunity for the agency. Make cheat sheets of the questions and display them prominently so you can be quick on your feet.
- Articulate your relevancy. Be able to very quickly articulate why your agency is relevant to their business. Never forget you are interrupting their day so make it as worthwhile to them as possible.
- Role-play. You really only have one chance to make a good impression so I encourage people to role-play phone calls. Ask a co-worker, friend, peer, to be the prospect and practice calling into them. Ask them to be tough – but fair – and be open to constructive criticism. It is better to practice on someone you know vs. the prospect.
- Keep call records. There are lots of products available that can help you maintain and schedule your call activity.
- Use strategic, relationship-building voicemail. The key to voicemail is to keep them short and to not leave one every time you call. Practice leaving voicemails for yourself and critique them. Develop a series of voicemails per prospect that leaves a different piece of information about your agency per message (think of dropping breadcrumbs) that will build upon the last messages. If the prospect starts to become interested in you and listens to your voicemails (vs. just deleting) then when you do connect on the phone they will know a bit more about you and the conversation won’t be as cold.