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In my opinion, the secret to making good cold calls is to ASK PERMISSION TO SPEAK. So many telemarketers call us at work or at home and launch into their spiel without thinking we might be in the middle of something important.
Here’s a message for telemarketers. Your prospects are not listening! If your call is taking them away from something they’re involved in, whether it’s important or not, they will not give you their attention, even if they stay on the line. Worst case scenario, they’ll silently fume at the interruption and lack of courtesy. Asking permission to speak engages your prospects. They’re required to respond. If they give permission, then they’ve opted in. The result is an attentive and much more receptive listener.
When you’re telemarketing, ask if the respondent is busy. If so, offer to call back another time and then make a phone appointment. Explain you would prefer to call them back when it is convenient for them to talk.
Be prepared to quickly give the purpose of your call. Let’s say you want two questions answered so you can better understand how your prospects do business. For example:
Here’s an example of something you may say… “The reason I am calling is two fold. One is to find out who is responsible for acquiring ABC products or services. Secondly, to find out if we can be of service to you.”
One of the most basic tenets of the powerful sales system I designed is revealed in my upcoming book “The Secrets to Cold Calling Success” is to ask permission to speak right up front. Don’t be afraid you will lose the opportunity.
Plenty of people will speak with you if you are polite and ask permission to speak first and then explain who you are, who you represent and that the purpose of your call is to get answers to the two questions above. Notice that you are NOT selling. You are simply seeking information to UNDERSTAND how a prospect’s company does business and to see if you can help them conduct their business more effectively. There is no need to speak with people who do not want to speak to you. Why?
There are hundreds and hundreds of leads to call. Find the ones who will give you permission to speak.
2. And if you catch your prospect at a bad time and he agrees to reschedule the call, you then have permission to call back at a mutually convenient time. You’ve just warmed up your cold call!
Here are a couple of examples of openers that I use:
“Hi my name is [insert your first and last name] and I’m calling on behalf of [insert your company name]. ” “Do you have a minute to speak with me?” Alternatively, “Am I catching you at a good time?” The answer will immediately let you know if you can proceed or not. If she says yes, prepare to give the reasons for your call. If she says no, then make a phone appointment to speak at a more convenient time.
Typically, before agreeing to a phone appointment, your prospect will ask why you’re calling. The person being called is trying to determine “What’s In It For Me?” also known as WHIIFM. Before setting an appointment, most people need to determine whether it is a good use of their time to speak with you. And that’s fair!
People who call others unexpectedly are often perceived as an interruption. It is important to remember that if someone is busy and you try to speak with him or her, they will not listen to what you have to say. You will be heard as “just another annoying telemarketer or telesalesperson.”
In contrast, if you ask permission to speak, you will gain a much better result, since you are showing respect for the time and circumstances of the person you are calling. This is especially important if you are calling upon a high level executive.
Keep in mind, high level executives are people. There is nothing to fear when speaking with them. The truth is you will find many high level executives will speak with you for at least a minute to find out the reason for your call. By asking permission to speak before relaying the reason of your call, you will find more people are receptive to what you have to say.
Prepare in advance to succinctly relay the purpose of your call. Do not deviate from your calling objective which is to locate ‘WHO” is responsible for acquiring your products and services and secondly, to find out how you can be of service to the prospect’s company.
Prepare to ask these questions many times and you will find out all the different sources of information from various people throughout a prospect’s company. This is known as being Polite, Yet Respectfully Persistent (PYRP). To employ PYRP, plan to call in multiple directions (top, bottom, side, and angle) into a prospect’s company. Ask for different departments, business units or locations.
Ask each person the same questions (WHO is responsible? and How can I be of service?). If they do not know the answer ask, “What do you do?” or what are you responsible for? Childlike curiosity goes a long way over the phone, however you need to get in the habit of asking questions and waiting for answers.
Certain people, when time permits, like to speak about themselves and their jobs. In fact, their job is to educate you about their company. The first and most logical place you can call is the purchasing department. Why? People who work in purchasing must buy products and services to justify their jobs.
Other excellent departments to call include sales, marketing, investor relations and the computer room (if you are offering hardware or software).
These are 15 steps to cold calling success.
1. Have a call objective before you pick up the phone,
2. Know the purpose of your call,
3. Call in a direction (Purchasing, Sales, CEO’s assistant, etc.)
4. Ask permission to speak,
5. Wait patiently for permission,
6. Relay the purpose of your call – WHO is responsible for acquiring [insert your product or service]?
7. After finding out who the decision maker is, ask the person who provided the information “Would be so kind as to switch you to the [insert the decision maker’s name].”
8. Again knowing your call objective and purpose,
9. Ask permission to speak,
10. Wait patiently for permission,
11. Ask if you can assist in the improvement of their ability to conduct business using your product or service.
12. Ask questions by use “The Planning Process” to understand:
* Where is the prospect now?
* Where do they want to be?
* How do they plan to get there?
* What action(s) need to be taken?
13. Ask about business, operational and financial issues. If both the prospect and you agree there is a real or potential problem, need or challenge, then inquire about the evaluation and decision making processes.
14. Set up a “Sales Map” (similar to a road map that provides directions, a sales map provides a list of action steps for a sale to take place including directions).
15. Agree on what steps will be taken by each person to entertain a possible answer or solution.
Here are some great questions to ask:
* Is there a current evaluation taking place?
* What are the evaluation criteria?
* What other types of answers or solutions are being considered and by whom?
* Are competitors being considered?
* When do you need to have a solution in place?
* Is there a budget set aside if your product or service does provide the answer to their challenge (not pain, pain is physical, businesses experience needs, problems and challenges).
After you employ your questioning and listening skills, assemble and analyze the information. Your goal is to understand how a prospect does business and whether you can help them do business better, faster or cheaper.
Finally you can remove your information hat and don your sales hat. It is time for the presentation. Assuming you and your prospect both agree that you have the best answer or solution at a reasonable price, the final Agreement and the beginning of a new relationship will take place.
Ron LaVine, MBA is president and founder of Intellworks, Inc., a sales training firm located in Oak Park, CA. You can get a special report “41 sales Tips You Can Use Right Now” plus Section One of The Cold Calling for Sales Success Workbook AND the free bimonthly Sales Tips for Selling Success eZine all by signing up at www.intellworks.com/free_tips_signup.htm. If you would like information on Cold Calling Sales System for Success Live Sales Call Training please call Ron at 818-991-6487 PST. Copyright 2004 by Intellworks, Inc.