Establish A Buyer Persona
This refers to the psychological profile of your buyer. It represents your ideal customer. By creating a buyer persona, you’ll be more adept at vetting the quality of the prospects you get because you know what exactly you’re looking for. When you create your buyer persona, be as specific as you can. Try these questions:
- Are your ideal customers male or female?
- Are they single, married, or divorced?
- What kind of jobs do that have?
- What is their income?
- What kind of car are they driving?
- What do they do during their free time?
- Do they have children?
- What kind of lifestyle do they have?
- Where do they live?
- What kind of residence do they live in?
Your choices of speculative questions are endless. You can even use data from market research to come up with a persona. The point is that you need to have a clear picture of the people you want to talk to. This way, you’ll be more in touch with the reasons they’re compelled to buy.
Discover Your Target Customer’s Pain Points
One thing about creating a buyer persona is that it gives you a speculative picture of what your target customers’ pain points are. Pain points are actually one of the key elements in entrepreneurial success. Just look at the inventions during the Industrial Revolution and those are being invented today. These are products of either perceived or real problems.
Your task then is to identify what could be your target customers’ problems. Is it a real problem or a perceived problem? If it’s a real problem, how can you position your product? If it’s a perceived problem, how can your product help solve it anyway?
Pain points may be validated during your discovery call. Remember that without a need, there can’t be a purchase. So based on the information that you’ve gathered on your initial call, design your product presentation in a way that the most important benefits are those that directly address your prospect’s pain points. This will significantly improve your chances to make a sale.
Work Around Your Prospect’s Time
While we mentioned earlier that the best day to do a cold call is on Thursday, don’t push it if your prospect is only available on a Monday. And even if we mentioned that the best hours to call are between 4:00 and 5:00 PM, you shouldn’t be calling then if your prospect can only entertain calls at 7:00 PM.
Go back to your initial conversation with your prospect. Did you discuss about the best time and day to call? If so, work on your schedule to make that happen. If not, and you’re doubtful about calling, call anyway. You’ll get your answer. It’s all about making the situation ideal for your prospect so that you can nurture your relationship.
Start The Call With Something Positive
Commenting about the bad weather, the worsening traffic jam, or the busyness in your office isn’t really an ideal way to start a cold call. Instead, ask how your prospect is doing and share a short, positive anecdote to set the tone of your conversation.
Mind Your Word Choice
Nowadays, customers are being inundated with marketing terms and expressions that they respond negatively to some of them. A research conducted by Gong, a sales platform provider, found the following words to decrease conversion rates:
- Million, billion, or trillion – these numbers are just too abstract that it’s difficult to quantify.
- Competitor – not a positive contributor to success rate
- The name of your company – when used four times or more, your close rate drops by 14%
- Contract – affects close rates by 7%
- Discount – drives down close rates by 7%
- Free trial – negatively affects close rate by 5%
- Show you how – when used four times or more, it caused close rate to drop by 13%
So what should you do instead? Use collaborative words such as ‘we,’ ‘us,’ and ‘our.’ It gives your prospect a sense of belongingness even if he or she hasn’t been sold to yet.
Don’t Diss Your Competitors
This is related to word choice. Never, ever diss your competitors lest you’ll be tagged as belonging to the same flock. In the psychological language, that’s called ‘spontaneous trait transference.’ This happens when you – the communicator – are perceived to be in possession of the same traits that you ascribe to others.
But the term itself isn’t essentially negative. In fact, it can be used to make you look good. How? By complimenting your competitors instead of dissing them. But please only do that if you think that it’s necessary in converting your prospect to a buying customer. Otherwise, it is best to say that you can’t comment about company so and so.
Focus On Your Prospect
Whether you’ve reached your prospect’s voicemail or are talking to him or her over the phone, always keep your conversation about them. Professional selling is client-centered selling. That is, you’re talking to your prospect about their needs instead of talking about who you are, what you do, and who you represent.
Plan Your Questions
It’s easy to think of this as listing your questions and ticking them one by one as you go about your conversation. However, that’s not the point. The point of planning your questions is for you to have a guide in keeping the conversation flowing. So design questions so that they’ll elicit elaborate responses. The more information you get from your prospect, the easier for you to qualify.
Don’t Use A Script
Make every call personalized. If you follow a script, there’s a good chance that you may not be able to deliver what you’ve promised in your opening statement. So focus on building a relationship by being conversational. As you do that, always keep in mind that your prospects are different individuals. Adopt according to your prospect.
Avoid Overwhelming Your Prospect
Most sales persons start their discovery calls armed with tons of information that overwhelms their prospect. That hardly works. What you can do is to dive right in without dishing out the numbers, facts, and product features. It is always easier for a prospect to open up if they don’t sense that they’re being led to a sales offering.
Avoid Selling On Your First Call
A natural tendency for sales persons is to make an offer right away. That’s especially if their prospect has given away a pain point that exactly matches a product’s benefit. As tempting as that is, your focus during your initial cold call should be to gather enough information. When you have enough of it, let your prospect know that you’ll call them back. This gives you time to design a more personalized offer.
Keep The Tone Of Your Conversation Relaxed
This will help your prospect stay relaxed as well. If you come across as threatening, you may lose your chance of making a follow-up call. Besides, agitated prospects tend to raise more objections and may even get irritated.
Don’t Talk Too Much
Remember that it’s about your prospect and not you. So take some time to listen to your prospect. In a research conducted by Gong, it was found that sales people who talk for about 54% of the call are more successful than those who talk too little or who talk too much. If 75% of the call involves you talking, then you’re talking too much and not really giving your prospect a chance to be heard.
Space Out Your Questions
The same research by Gong reveals that asking 15 – 18 questions during your discovery call does not significantly affect your success rate. The recommended number of questions you can ask is 11 to 14. Equally important is spacing out your questions. If you fire your questions consecutively, then you’ll sound like you’re reading from a script.
Ask For More
Go beyond the purpose of your call. Often, people have a reason for buying a certain product manufactured by a specific brand. Find out what that is. How? By asking. If you understand your prospect’s motivations in patronizing a product, you’ll be more likely to tailor your offering in the future. Remember, this is not the only time that your prospect will need something.
Understand What Makes A Positive Cold Call Experience
Marketing company HubSpot has conducted a research about what makes a positive sales experience and have found the following:
- Listening to needs: 69%
- Not being pushy: 61%
- Providing relevant information: 61%
- Responding in a timely manner: 51%
The final point above ties to what we mentioned in an earlier article about prospects preferring competitors as being in function with responsiveness.
Focus On The Call
If you have the habit of doing two or more things at a time while a cold call is in progress, then you’re doing more things badly at the same time. Prospects can ac-tually feel if your attention is divided and not focused on them. It gives off a feeling of disconnection and ruins an otherwise promising rapport. Remember that you it was you who initiated the call so you must be in it 100%.
Your Attitude Is Everything
This is important especially if you’ve initiated the call. What your face or actions are unable to tell, your tone will give away. So this is the part where you’re going to have to reflect on how you perceive cold call-ing. If you see it only as a number’s game, then you probably shouldn’t start dialing. Your belief about cold calling will drive your approach. You’d have to start right.
Let The Prospect Drive The Call
This means that the pace of the call should depend on your prospect. It’s nice for you to have a little cheat sheet about how you plan for the call to progress. However, you should be ready to adjust and let your interaction be as spontaneous as possible. You’ll find that one door leads to another which may culminate into an appointment or a sale.
Always Be Your Own Customer
Be empathic. If, as a customer, you don’t like this and that, then there’s a good chance that your prospect won’t like it either. Reflect upon your values, atti-tudes, and beliefs as they influence the way you’ll ap-proach your prospect. In turn, don’t forget the things that you like as a customer. It may help you during your conversation, and it may lead to a sale.
Use Positive Labels On Your Prospects
Labelling theory is a theory in social psychology that explains how the identity and behavior of individ-uals are influenced or are determined by the terms other people use to describe them. So if you tell your prospect that he’s the most engaged person you’ve talked to so far in the day, for example, then you may have a positive turnout.
A word of warning though. In a cold call, you most likely haven’t met your prospect in person yet. But even if that’s the case, you have to make sure that the label you use is appropriate, sensible, and genuine. People over the phone can actually detect feigned ad-miration and exaggerated labels.
Always Have An Agenda
The purpose of having an agenda is for you to be able to accomplish your goals for that call while giving your prospect the impression that they are in control. It’s one way to set expectations without being too authoritative or controlling. So early on during the call, state what you’ll be covering with the prospect and let them know that they can ask ques-tions or talk it over with you afterwards.
Empower Your Prospects
An excellent product that offers the best solution will not generate sales if the sales person representing it makes a prospect feel forced, goaded, tricked, or wrangled into making a purchase decision. So what are you supposed to do?
Be involved in your prospect’s decision-making process. How? By making suggestions as customers go through the options that they have. You can pose what-if or what-about type of questions. Doing so will allow your prospects to feel that you are helping them even if they know that you’re really gunning for them to choose your product.
Cold calling doesn’t have to be cold, you know. It can be a warm experience even for people who do not have an existing relationship with your brand or your product. As you now know, the success of a cold call lies in the factors found within the sales person, the prospect, and the quality of the cold call itself.
On the sales person level, you’ve discovered that your perspective about cold call has an important bearing
into the quality of the call. In turn, the quality of the call has a bearing on the prospect’s final decision. In between, the sales person has a direct impact on the prospect.
You’ve also come across recent statistics that involve cold calling in general. The numbers presented in this article wouldn’t be possible if cold calling is al-ready dead. And while it is strong in the business-to-business arena, the renewed approach for a positive experience on the business-to-consumer arena is giving birth to engaging cold call practices.
Cold calling isn’t dead. Maybe it’s time that the name is changed.