Helping Your Reps Overcome ‘Cold-Call Reluctance’

by on August 10, 2011 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: Webinars for Sales Managers

Operator: Hello and welcome to today’s conference entitled, “Helping Your Reps Overcome Cold Call Reluctance”.

The general outline for today’s program is included in your handout. There also will be opportunities for questions and answers after the program. As a reminder, this call is being recorded.

Today’s speaker is Steve Von Hoene.

Steve Von Hoene founded Journey Learning with over 21 years of sales, management, and training experience with three industry leaders. Formerly the Vice President of National Accounts for Carew International, he enjoyed great success in a wide range of industries, consulting and facilitating sales, leadership, customer service, and financial literacy workshops with Fortune 500 companies in the United States and abroad.

Steve, the audience is all yours.

Steve Von Hoene: Thanks, Erik. And good afternoon, everyone. I hope it’s afternoon where you all are. I guess our West Coast folks; it might still be before noon. But welcome, everyone.

I understand this is a pretty popular webinar today. I think everyone wants the answers to cold calling. So we’ll see if we can help out with that.

We’re going to walk through some different points here. And then we’re going to share a bit of a recorded message with you and then we’ll wrap up this session with just some closing comments. So let’s get into it.

Cold calling, I guess the big question is, you know, what thoughts run through people’s mind when you hear cold calling especially sales managers. You know, do you have the thought that everyone hates cold calling? Do you perhaps think about cold calling as a key part of your business growth strategies? Do you look at cold calling as maybe something that you’d much rather see done as warm calling and we’ll talk a little bit more about that in a few minutes.

Do you feel like it’s a numbers game? Is it just a matter of dialing for dollars and the more folks you talk or reach out to, the more you’ll talk to and so on and so forth? Or is your thought that there’s got to be a better way?

You know, whenever I talk with sales managers and sales reps, but especially sales managers, I like to ask them how are you at cold calling? You know, how did you approach things? What was your methodology? How successful were you at it? How did you go about getting to be as successful as you were?

I think one key thing to remember is, you know, different folks are wired differently. And so, just because it worked for you or a particular method worked doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to work for that individual. But I do think that there’s a process that we can share with our folks and some key steps that they can take. That’s what we want to talk about today. And also from a management perspective, how do you manage your people’s cold calling activity?

So let’s get into again some of the thoughts here. I hope that there will be four things that you take away from today’s webinar that, you know, cold calling is not optional skill. Like I said, some people are wired for it, some people really love it. Most people though have some sense of reluctance.

And I don’t know too many people who like rejection. So, you know, those two things are couple things we’re going to have to deal with. I think another key thing to consider is what is it that turns prospects off. And I hope we will offer a couple of key ideas around that and how to deal with that.

And then finally, it is not just a numbers game. You know, certainly, there’s a quantity aspect to it. And we need to talk to enough people so that enough of the right ones or enough of the ones who are interested, you know, fall through to that engagement level. But there’s certainly a quality aspect to it as well.

And I think a key to the whole thing is preparation. And I think there are probably three different areas that we want to help our folks prepare for cold calling. Number one is mentally. Again, there’s a numbers aspect to it. But I think we need to help them understand how things generally work, what kind of rejection they’re likely to face, where will some of the resistance come from. And even to the standpoint of what is it that our prospects want to hear from us. I think that’s a lot of the mental preparation.

I think physically, you know, there are a lot of things that go into being ready to do cold calling. You know, are you well rested? Are you able to concentrate? Are you in a good environment? You know, are there distractions around you or people around you who could cause some kind of interference for whatever it is you’re trying to do?

And then I think ultimately, again, strategically, how have you prepared to contact the folks that you’re about to reach out to? Have you done any level of homework around these different folks at all? And hopefully you have.

Have you done any bit of networking perhaps to get companies or prospective individuals who somebody else has told you that they would probably be pretty positively predisposed or hearing from you.

And how much time have you allocated toward your cold calling sessions? How far in advance do you do the cold calling session as to when you’re hoping to make the appointment and actually goes to you or speak with the individual? So I think preparation is very key here. A lot of it comes around I think managing people’s expectation.

So I mentioned we’re going to share a little video with you here. If you’re not familiar with the Rapid Learning Center, we have what we call Quick Take sessions which are six to ten-minute, little vignettes on different topics. So we’re going to share one with you today on cold calling and how to nail the first 20 seconds and engage your prospects.

Quick Take: Hello and thanks for listening to this presentation which is part of the Quick Takes for sales professional series. Today’s topic, Cold Calling: How to Nail the First 20 Seconds and Engage Your Prospect.

Cold calling to fill your sales funnel with new prospect is not an optional skill for an ambitious salesperson. If you don’t do it or do it ineffectively, you won’t hate your numbers next quarter or the quarter after that. And yet, most salespeople resist it.

Cold call reluctance is no mystery. People don’t like to get rejected. And that’s how it feels when you call somebody out of the blue and they don’t want what you’re selling.

Quick Take will help one, beginners who go about cold calling all wrong and get hammered day in and day out. Two, capable callers who do some things right but still often feel rejected. And three, even seasoned vets who have to really kick themselves to do cold calling regularly.

You will learn the number one mistake that triggers the prospect’s flight response guarantees rejection and fuels cold call reluctance. Number two, why cold calling is not a numbers game. Three, the three parts of a rock solid cold calling script. And yes, you absolutely need one. And finally, number four, why the best salespeople rarely feel this thing of rejection even on the coldest of cold call.

Let’s start with the number one mistake. The worst thing you can possibly do during the first 20 seconds of a cold call is talk about your product and your company. When you do that, you’re making the call about me, me, me.

How would you feel if you met a stranger at a party and his first 20 seconds with you sounded like this? “Hi! I’m Larry. I come from an old money family on Long Island. After graduating summa cum laude from Harvard, I worked ten years at Goldman Sachs and now, run my own hedge fund.”

You’d be thinking, “How fast can I get away from this guy?” Why do people like to trigger your flight response? Because you, like everyone else, are hardwired to seek out people who are interested in you and your wellbeing. Larry has no interest in you. In fact, your subconscious perceives him as poised to suck the life out of you.

But isn’t that similar to what salespeople do when they call prospect and say, “Hi! I’m Joe from Mega Widget Company. We’re the premium global producer of widgets. We’re known for our outstanding service and dedicated technical support. I’d like to meet with you and tell you about all the products and services that make us the market leader.”

The psychological reaction is identical to the one we have with Larry. What prospect wouldn’t be thinking, “How fast can I get this guy off the phone”? Amateurs do this all the time because they simply don’t know any better. But even experienced sellers get lazy and make cold calls that are too much about me, me, me. Their slightest hint of me talk can trigger a flight mechanism.

Fact is, impersonating Long Island Larry is the easy way to go. You’re an expert on your company, its product and the benefits you deliver. You could recite a cold call script about me in your sleep.

If you’re making up me, me, me calls, eventually, you’ll find a real prospect. Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn from time to time. But the cost of dialing for dollars is huge. Rejection takes its toll. Eventually, it fuels call reluctance. You cut back on the calls. Your funnel dries up, you miss your numbers.

There’s a better way. And it starts with a simple maxim – Cold calling is not just a numbers game. Quality matters.

What does that mean? It means from now on, don’t ever make a cold call to someone you know nothing about. Do your homework before every call. That way, you never sound like you’re dialing for dollars or cold calling an anonymous list.

How do you find out about people? Successful salespeople know the awesome power of tools like prospect’s website, internet searches and data bases like Hoovers. Look for press releases about new product, acquisition, new financing or anything that will indicate company benchmarks, goals or how resources are being deployed.

Once you’ve done your research, now what? What do you say in those first 20 seconds that will prevent the flight response and get the prospect to talk to you? You talk about them. More specifically, you make it clear that you’re interested in their well-being. You want to help.

First, a word about a script. Do you really need one? Yes, engaging a prospect in 20 seconds disarming their flight mechanism is extremely difficult. That’s why so few salespeople can do it. You need to spend a lot of time and thought preparing a tight script. Then you need to practice it so it doesn’t sound in the least scripted.

Here’s an outline of the script. It addresses the three things the prospect must know before he’ll talk to you. One, who are you? Two, why are you calling? Three, what’s in it for me?

Number one is easy. “Hi, I’m Jane Smith from Fleet Soft.” People need to know who they’re talking to. But keep it short and sweet.

Number two is trickier. You say, “I’m calling because I want to sell you software that monitors your fleet of trucks”? That’s the real reason you’re calling, right? Yes. But if you say that, your call is over.

How about this? “I’m calling because we have a new transportation software product that allows you to track your fleet capacity better than anything on the market. I’d love to show it to you.” A little better but tracking fleet capacity is a feature, not a benefit. And the prospect will translate, “I’d love to show it to you” as I want to sell you. And it’ll trigger his flight mechanism.

The problem is that the seller is still ignoring the third element of the successful cold call – what’s in it for me? How about this? “Hi, I’m Jane Smith from Fleet Soft. I’m calling because we’ve developed a new transportation software product that allows companies to increase their average load capacity by as much as 40%. It’s a quantum leap technology. Is that something you’d be interested in?” Significantly better.

It says why Jane is calling and promises an attractive benefit that any fleet operator would want. But the prospect couldn’t care less about quantum leap technology which sounds like hype.

Finally, the close-ended yes-no question is dangerous. Here’s a good chance the prospect will just say no because he feels he’s being sold.

So let’s get it right. Here’s an effective 20-second opening. “Hi! I’m Jane Smith from Fleet Soft. I’m calling because we’ve recently helped a number of transportation company increase their average load capacity by as much as 40%. I know that at your company and others, there’s pressure on margins these days. Can I ask you a few questions to see if there’s any chance we could help your company as well?”

Why does this work? First, notice there’s no mention of the product at all. Jane mentions the benefit; reinforcing her credibility by saying she’s helped other companies boost their load capacity.

Since she researched the prospect in advance, Jane can state with confidence that the prospect’s company profits are off this year and she knows that anything close to a 40% capacity increase would be like manna from heaven.

Then she request permission to ask a few questions which will be laser focused on the prospect’s current capacity benchmark. It’s performing goals and how it intends to deploy resource to achieve those goals. Jane will be looking for problems that her software might be able to solve.

Stress that word “might”. Jane said the purpose of her questions was to see if there’s any chance she could. The humility and lack of presumption and better than that phrase disarms the prospect’s flight mechanism. This salesperson isn’t trying to sell me. She is just trying to figure out if we have anything to talk about. If we don’t, she’ll just go away. I’ll give her a few minutes.

No matter what business you’re in, you can emulate this model which will instantly separate you from the dialing for dollars crowd. And it will lead the high quality high conversion cold call. That means you’ll get rejected far less often.

Cold calling will no longer be the onerous task it used to be. And your sales funnel will be fuller than your competitors. Thanks for watching.

Steve Von Hoene: All right. So give us a moment to get our technology to work with us here. We’ll come back to the slides that we were using to kind of drive our discussion. Again, I think from the Quick Take you see just a sample of how we at the Rapid Learning Center try to make communicating these messages or training, if you will, your sales folks fairly user friendly and fairly quick. That’s why we call them Quick Takes. So we’ll talk more about that at the end here.

But right now, you know, from the Quick Take, there were a few points that we stress that we made there. Our slide won’t move. There we go. The one as we said earlier is that cold calling for most people, for most companies, most industries, it’s not optional.

You can do some warm calling. You can work to get leads. And that’s always great referrals into new prospects, that kind of thing. But most of us are still going to need to pick up the phone and call somebody who either has never heard of us or doesn’t know we’re calling that day. So we call that cold calling.

Again, there’s still lots of homework we can do. And all of the other things we talked about in terms of preparation of, you know, setting aside time so there are no other distractions and physically being in an environment that’s conducive and so on and so forth. All of those things can go toward making our cold calling efforts much more effective.

Again, I have met a handful of sales reps over time. And it’s a pretty small handful but I do believe they exist who absolutely love cold calling. They love the challenge of it. They love talking to brand new people. They’re probably fairly good at doing their messaging, their scripting, if you will, and it doesn’t sound scripted. So when you’re good at something, usually you like to do it.

But I think for most salespeople, there’s a bit of reluctance. The good news is there I think that delivering the message and working at your scripting and all those things are skills that are very learnable.

And with the right kind of coaching and the right kind of direction, I think any rep can get pretty good at cold calling at least to the point where they shouldn’t have, you know, some huge obstacle of reluctance of rejection or whatever the other factors might be that are causing them to shy away from cold calling.

I think with cold calling as in most selling efforts, the key I think is to make it clear to prospect that your focus is on them. And not just my focus is on you because I want to sell you as the Quick Take talked about but find ways to talk about things that are important to them. And again, within these first 20 seconds of the cold call, in a fairly succinct manner, demonstrate that you’ve done some homework.

And whatever topic you want to talk to them about, again, not necessarily what product but whatever topic you want to talk to them about is relevant to them and you hopefully have some value to bring to that particular subject.

Again, we’ve said this a number of times. It’s not just a numbers game. The quality does matter. So again, make sure you’re doing some homework as the Quick Take talked about. Do a little bit of research of the companies. Find out what kind of things are current in the industry or current in their marketplace that are relevant to them.

And I think one of the other big things is make sure you know who you want to talk to. I think getting to the right person at the other end of the line is very key. And so, a lot of our efforts, you know, have to go through different gatekeepers.

And so, I think we should help our reps be prepared of how to handle those gatekeepers as well. So, you know, focusing on the quality of our effort obviously is just as key.

And I think in all those scenarios whether you’re talking to the right person, you’re talking to a gatekeeper, whatever it is, as we’ve stressed in the Quick Take, having a well polished, a well developed script that’s tight enough, focused enough on the things that are important to that customer, to that prospect are key.

So here are just a couple of points about the kind of approach from a management perspective. We like the SPAN model. And it’s an acronym obviously. It stands for setting expectations around all the cold calling efforts in this particular case.

As your reps go through it, you need to be able to observe them and provide some feedback as to how they’re doing so that if they’re going in the right direction, you can positively reinforce that. If they’re not, you can make whatever minor corrections or adjustments along the way that you need to.

Obviously, you want to watch and see what’s going on and analyze their results, not just the results, and their behavior as it walks through the different steps of the cold calling process but how many appointments are they getting. Why are they getting rejected perhaps? And all of those kinds of end-result types of things around cold calling.

And then finally, based on the results and everything you’ve observed, you know, we say negotiate. But the idea is that it should probably be a collaborative process with your reps to figure out what do we need to work on here, what do we need to maybe change, do you need to do it more frequently or less frequently, do you need to do it at a different time of day, you know, whatever it might be.

So the SPAN model is just again, an acronym for how can we help communicate through our reps what we want, what we expect of them. And then how can we observe that and give them the right kind of feedback and work on the path forward together. And again, just a quick thought there.

You know, some tips for managing the whole cold calling effort, I think you know, for me, one of the key here is to make sure your folks are doing it. Those of us who are sales managers are probably most of us have been sales reps at one time where, you know, we were able to talk our way around a particular job requirement. You know, “Oh, I’m going to get to that.” Or “I’m really working on that” or whatever might be.

I think for us to be effective at making sure our people get good at cold calling, we have to be able to quiz them both in terms of what their script is. And as you get pretty quickly to the point where they can narrate that or, you know, provide that script to you at a click of a finger, you know, “Hey, what do you say when you’re calling on this particular kind of company? What do you say when you’re calling on this particular type of decision maker?” whatever might be. And they should have those scripts pretty nailed down path.

So I think quizzing your people from time to time is always key. I think you can also by the way, quiz them on, how are they doing at monitoring their own activity. You know, have they determined what’s the best time of day to do it? Have they determined how long of a cold calling block can they do before they just worn out or whatever might be? So all of the different aspects of cold calling I think you can quiz your people on.

I think another great thing we can do is have them record their scripts in your voicemail. You know, both initially as you’re beginning to work on things and as they go forward. As they work the polish and find ways that it works better, whatever might be.

I think a great thing you can have them do is maybe once a week or once a month or whatever the right frequency is, have them call your voicemail and leave, you know, what their current cold calling script might be.

I think one of the things I know when I was a rep that I did I think pretty regularly was, you know, I had my core script that I liked. And I would pretty much work from that all the time.

But occasionally and it probably had a lot to do with me just getting bored with it, I would play around with different wording to see if it was more effective or to see if it resonated with somebody or, you know, whatever might be.

So I think again, having them record their scripts in your voicemails on a fairly regular basis is good because then you can encourage them to try different things until they can really zone in on what exactly it is that’s going to work best for them.

I think this is huge. Somebody suggested – I can’t claim responsibility for this. But some reps suggested this to me years ago. And I thought this was a great insight. You have people, you know, that you deal with all the time who you didn’t use to deal with. And obviously those are customers.

And I think it’s key to go to them from time to time and ask them, “Why do you business with us?” And if they’re a fairly new prospect – I’m kind of hedging whether this even works for, I’m sorry, new customers – if this works for people that have been around for a while. But ask them, “What was it in my approach to you – this is your sales rep of course – what was it in my approach to you that triggered in your mind, hey I’d really like to talk to this person?”

So, you know, get your current customer’s perspectives on what it is about you and your service or your products that make you appealing to them. But also if you can, what was it that got your attention early in the game?

And by the way, I think you can do the same thing with prospect. I think you can – before somebody ultimately decides this business with you, if you’ve been successful in your cold calling effort that you’ve been able to get an appointment with someone, I think very early in the game, you can ask them, “What was it that caused you to talk with us?”

And I think in a lot of cases, I think that even goes pretty positively toward cementing or insuring or putting the odds in your favor that they’ll ultimately do business with you because I think what most customers or prospects want to see is the salesperson or to deal with an organization who’s constantly looking to better themselves and make that betterment, you know, tangibly deliverable to their customers.

So if you can get your people in the habit of asking, again, not just their customers but their prospects, “What is it that we do that you like? And what are the kinds of things that you’d like us to do other than these?” I think that can go a long way to making you successful as you kind of go through things here.

You know, another – I would say automatic thing but probably not automatic in every situation. But have your reps share their successes. You know, have them share scripts that they’ve used that have been successful or some of the other mechanical things again around when they do they view their cold calling or how long do they do it, those kind of things.

But have your folks share their successes. And if you have folks who are a little reluctant to do that, then you should do it on their behalf. Of course make sure they’re okay with that. But I think again, the majority of salespeople out there have a pretty strong reluctance to cold calling because the success rate isn’t perhaps as high as they’d like it to be.

And I think one of the things that you can share with people that reps can share with one another is how many calls it took maybe your best rep or a top rep or whatever, how many calls did it take them to get their appointment book full, you know, to keep their funnel packed with viable prospects.

And I think especially newer sales folks would perhaps be encouraged that, you know what? That person had to make a lot of calls as well. It’s not just me. Again, not to deemphasize too much the numbers part of cold calling because it does take, you know, substantial amount of dialing to get to the right number of people and so on and so forth. But obviously we’ve said before, quality is key as well.

And then I think again, as a sales manager, there are all kinds of ways. You know, you know your team better than anyone. But if you can create any kind of a contest or even if it’s just providing recognition or, you know, providing some kind of rewards for certain levels that are met, whatever it is, most salespeople are pretty competitive. So if you could find a way to make a bit of a competition out of things, I think you’ll find your folks will generally respond pretty well for that.

So again, I think some of the things that are key here – let’s back up one. I think what we recognized here at the Rapid Learning Center is that training is a process, it’s not an event. And what we need to do as managers is, you know, through these quizzing and engaging our folks to talk about their efforts and so on and so forth, by revisiting the behavior we’re thing to develop, we’re going to be a lot more I think successful in helping people work through some of their challenges through the process.

So don’t expect, you know, if they watch the Quick Take on cold calling or you send them to some kind of a training event or you sit down or conduct your own workshop with them that that’s going to fix it completely.

You’re probably are just going to get the ball started. So there needs to be some follow-up and some recurring treatment of the topic. And that’s what we mean by training is a process. So we’ll talk more about that in a second here as well.

All right. So again, just to kind of summarize some of the things that we’ve talked about today and hopefully how to use some of these things, I’ve started with making sure everybody’s clear on their expectations. And, you know, set up opportunities, again, whether it’s live, watching them do it or as I mentioned having them call in to your voicemail and do things like that.

But find ways that you can observe it and give them feedback and make sure that they’re on track with doing it well. I think if you don’t have a current process in terms of, you know, where you go to do the homework or how far in advance do we set up our cold calling where we try to set appointments or what do the different scripts look like for different decision makers?

I initially started with a company that was hugely driven by policies and procedures when I started my professional career. And I think anything, any repeatable activity that we have do can be pretty nicely defined and fine tuned with having a process.

So if you don’t have a current process for how to do prospecting, how to do cold calling, you know, I would find a volunteer or delegate that out to one of your folks to create that for your organization.

Again, I think I would solicit your reps for their best and worst scripts. You know, kind of put them both out there if you’re again, like most organizations, you’ve got some number of new folks who are coming online. So even to see what the worst ones look like, you know, help them from reinventing a bad wheel I guess. So have them share what were some of the things you guys have found that don’t work for you necessarily but then obviously what are hopefully some of the ones that do.

And again, I can’t stress enough I think the value of some getting some input from current customers as to what would be a message that would resonate with them from a perspective supplier in your industry.

And then finally, I think, you know, again, the biggest thing here is follow-up. I’ve scheduled some time for everyone within a group setting to kind of practice what they do with one another, share the things that they do, kick it around, discuss what might work better, all of those kinds of things.

And then ultimately, if you’re not currently which you probably aren’t without in today’s webinar but if you’re not currently a Rapid Learning customer, you’re going to get a nice opportunity to experiment and play the our system here to this free trial that we’re going to offer to you today.

So when you signed up for today’s webinar, you automatically entered into the RLI system and given a free trial to the selling essentials Rapid Learning Center which you’ll see right here.

So for the next 30 days, you’ll have full access to the program that we talked about today, the cold calling program plus dozens of other training programs that are available through our site.

So let me walk you through how to get in. So you see the login screen here. If you already have access to the site, you already have your login credentials and so on and so forth. But if you don’t, during the program here, we’ve sent you an email that will have a username and a password. If you didn’t get that email during the session here, just give us a call and we’ll definitely get you set up very easily.

So as you see here, enter your username and your password. And then click Login. That will get you into kind of the menu screen for the Rapid Learning Center. You’ll notice a number of different topics that are listed throughout the page here. But in the top right hand corner, you’ll see a gray bar that says Topic Search.

So if you want to find the cold calling Quick Take that we watched today, you simply type – or I’m sorry, click the dropdown and find cold calling subject there. And once you click on that, it will take you to all of the different resources that are in the system. You just look down to find the one on Cold Calling: Nail the First 20 Seconds.

So if you click on that, it will launch another page that will show you all of the different resources. So the very first one involves or is involved with actually launching the same Quick Take that we watched today.

But as you can see here, there are a number of other links that are basically resources. There’s a discussion guide. There’s a quiz. There are all kinds of other tool that you can use to help your folks make sure that they get the most out of the different topics and Quick Takes that we have on the site here, okay.

The other thing you can do is you can add users to the program. We invite you to do that. You can – anybody within your organization can also have access to the program here for 30 days, okay.

Finally, we’re happy to give you a free tour of the whole Rapid Learning Center. If you’d like somebody to walk you through some of these different things and show you how they work, we’re certainly happy to do that as well. So that’s kind of the Rapid Learning Center. You see here how to add users as well.

You know, what we found works best in training scenarios is something we called chunked learning which are these small bites on different topics, six to ten-minute treatments and the opportunity to have different resources that take you through all of the necessary follow-up steps to make sure that this stuff gets printed in your people’s heads and more importantly that they start using it and benefitting from it.

So that’s our session for today. Thanks so much for joining us. Hope you enjoy your trial. And happy selling, everyone. Have a great afternoon.

Operator: Thank you for attending today’s conference. The Rapid Learning Institute is committed to delivering the most valuable information-rich programs that you would feel confident recommending to your colleagues. Thank you all very much.

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