I was running a sales training course last week where the attendees were making live cold/warm calls to prospective clients. One of the things that struck me is the influence that working in a team environment has because nearly every person had fallen into the same bad habit.
Cold Calling Habits
The habit was opening the call with a weak and meaningless statement that robbed them of their impact. This is not unusual within a company and I generally find that teams very often adopt one or more of the following weak terms:
- “Hi John, you don’t know me” — There is nothing worse than this for flagging up that this is a sales call and that you have not prepared. You might equally say something like “Hi John, Its raining outside”
- “I’m calling to introduce myself” — I once coached an IT sales person around using the telephone to set appointments. When we examined his last 10 calls it was clear he was upset about the apparent lack of success. After all 10 calls in and no appointments. I pointed out, however, that he was 100% successful. He had made 10 calls with the aim to introduce himself. He did and the other person thanked him and then left the call as quick as possible.
- How are you? — Generally despised by everyone in every sales training I have ever given yet the most common offender. Unless you have an existing relationship with the person then do not use this line. You might be asking with complete sincerity but the other person is likely to think – “Here we go, another useless sales call” and then switch off.
What weak opening lines have you and your companies fallen into. Id love to hear from you.
To make the best possible approach when cold calling (or warm calling) use the 3 step formula ‘OVQ’
Cold Calling 3-Step Formula ‘OVQ’
O – Opening
Don’t be too clever here. Just aim for the quickest and most human connection possible while still developing a conversation. Try one or more of the following:
- Hi, John Jones? – Clear and straight to the point.
- Hi there, I was wondering if you could help me? — Everyone likes to be asked to help, it’s part of the human psyche. The answer you get will also give you an idea about the type of person you are talking with. “Shoot, you’ve got 20 seconds” will tell you a lot about the day orthe direct personality style of this recipient!
- I’m not sure if this is relevant for you — This works really well for two main reasons. Firstly, from a psychological point of view most people will be engaged and will either listen to see if it is relevant or they will think “I’ll decide if it’s relevant, not you!”. Secondly, it is far removed from the typical cold calling approach where the person rings up and dives straight in with “Have I got a deal for you!”
V = Value Statement
This where you really earn your right to continue in the conversation. It is your polished, practiced and relevant statement of the value you think might be relevant to the person you are calling. You can reference:
- Money saving
- Profit increases
- Production Increases
- Time saving although technically this will result in increased profit and/or money saving
- A competitor
- A legislation change
- An industry problem or challenge
And many more…
A good value statement can make or break your calling effectiveness. In the following example, a company had Marks and Spencer as a client and wanted to introduce themselves to John Lewis. The value statement could go like this:
“We have just completed a project for Marks and Spencer which reduced staff churn down from 29% to 18% which has saved them £500,000 in 6 months and is on track to do that every six months from now on in”
Q = Question
Modern day calling is about natural conversation and nothing makes this work better than good questions. This will finish of your brief introduction with a way to pass the communication batten to the other person. It might be something as simple as:
“How relevant is <insert key value statement item here> to your organisation?”
So our example might go something like this:
“Hi Mr Jones, I wonder if you can help me?”
“I will try”
“We have just completed a project with Marks and Spencers which reduced their staff churn down from 29% to 18% which has saved them £500,000 in six months and is on track to do that every six months from now on in.”
“How relevant is staff churn in your business at the moment?”
This is short, to the point and demonstrates value, value, value. It also comes across very naturally and allows the person being called to engage in the conversation or not at an early stage.
Next time you make a call follow the OVQ process and see how easy cold calling is.