In these ‘slower’ times, do you or your sales team take to the phone to drum up new business?
If so, you may have noticed that many old “tried and true” cold calling techniques, which once were successful, just don’t work anymore.
Yet salespeople still use them, because that’s all they know. They’re using an old, ineffective cold calling mindset, leading them to make the same mistakes over and over again.
Let’s look at four classic cold calling mistakes that can put you on the wrong path, if you’re not careful.
Mistake 1 Deliver a strong, enthusiastic sales pitch
People almost always feel sales enthusiasm is “pushy” – especially when it’s coming from someone they don’t know.
That’s simply because a strong sales pitch includes the unspoken assumption that your product or service is a great fit for the other person. But wait. . . you’ve never spoken with them before. You can’t possibly know much about their needs at this point.
To them, you’re just another salesperson who is pushing them to buy something. And so the walls go up.
It’s much better to modestly assume you know very little about your prospect. Invite them to share some of their concerns and difficulties with you. And allow them to guide the conversation, rather than push your pre-planned pitch.
Mistake 2 Your goal is to always make the sale
When you have a dogged focus on making the sale at all costs, prospects are aware of your agenda. And almost immediately, they’re on the defensive. After all, your focus is on yourself and the sale – not on them or their needs.
In the old traditional mindset, you forge ahead with the hope of getting a sale. You’re coaxing, persuading, and pushing things forward.
But most cold calls break down as soon as the other person feels this sales pressure.
Why? Because they don’t know you and they don’t trust you.
The sales momentum you’re trying to create actually works against you and triggers a backlash of suspicion and resistance. Your prospects are trying to protect themselves from a potential “intruder” who has what appears to be a self-serving agenda.
Instead, you should approach cold calling with a different goal. Your focus moves to discovering whether you’re able to solve a problem for the other person.
When you become a problem-solver, the person you’re talking to has a vastly different reaction. You’re not triggering rejection. You’re calling with 100 percent of your thoughts and energy focused on their needs, rather than on making a sale.
Mistake 3 Focus on the end of the conversation – that’s when sales are lost
If you believe that you lose sales because you’ve made a mistake at the end of the process, you’re looking in the wrong place. In fact, most mistakes are made at the beginning of a cold calling conversation.
As the old phrase has it: “you only get one chance to make a first impression.” So it’s at the beginning of the call that you convey whether you’re honest and trustworthy. If you’ve started out with a high-pressured sales pitch, then you’ve probably lost the other person in just a few seconds.
When you follow a “canned” sales script, strategy, or presentation, then you’re not allowing a natural, trusting conversation to evolve. Your very first words created the “problem” – which you’re not going to repair at the end of the call.
Therefore, the place to put all your focus is at the beginning of the cold call, not at the end.
Mistake 4 Overcome and counter all objections
Most traditional sales programs spend a lot of time focusing on overcoming objections. But these tactics only put more sales pressure on your prospect, which triggers still more resistance.
Instead, you should look through what’s being said, so you can explore and understand the truth behind the words.
Genuine objections can be revealed with polite questions, but stalls and delays can be treated the same way.
So when you hear, “We don’t have the budget,” or, “Call me in a few months,” you can immediately set them at ease by replying, “That’s not a problem.”
And then, by using gentle questions, you can invite them to reveal the truth about their situation.
For example, I like to handle “We don’t have the budget” by saying: “Of course you don’t and that’s not a problem. You couldn’t have been expecting me to call you about this, so it’s not likely you would have set budget aside for it. But if this will deliver the savings we’ve discussed then it’s likely it will pay for itself in less than a month, is that correct? So after 30 days, any impact on the budget will be recovered, yes? Does that solve your problem?”
In summary, it’s time to move away from the old cold calling mindset and try this new way of approaching your sales calls. You’ll find yourself being more natural and relaxed. As a result, your prospects will respond to you in a much more positive way.