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How to Fail at Cold Calling

by Gerry Gadoury on Nov 24, 2014 6:00:00 AM

Ok, I’m not saying that this is a comprehensive list, not by any means, but it is 3 of the things that we as salespeople can do to virtually guarantee that our cold call campaign will be BOTH miserable to execute (feel the rejection!) and fail to capture new clients (yay, no commission!).

Let’s start at the top...and have some fun (you'll see my sarcasm)

By all means, whenever you get the chance and ideally from the beginning, shove it in the face of the prospect who you are.  I mean really let them know who you are and how your recruiting team is unique.  Be sure to inform your prospect of all of the awards your company has won.  All of it.   I mean, they don’t know you, how else are they going to know how your organization is unique?  Tell me if this sounds familiar, “Hello Mr. Prospect, my name is John Doe and I’m from 123 Technical staffing.  We’re an IT staffing firm based in Anytown USA and we specialize in contract, contract to hire, and permanent placement of the very best technical talent available in this market.  Do you have any needs right now?”  Hammer this message over and over. Prospects love it...and it's such a different and unique message:)

Push for the meeting on the introductory call. Take no prisoners. Don’t let her off the phone without getting a commitment for a face to face meeting, You take meetings in your living from complete strangers off of a cold call right?  On second thought, pushing for the meeting is a sign of weakness,  PUSH HARD for that job req on the first call, the very first time you’ve spoken with this person!  Heck, why wouldn't they give you the job order? 
Still with me, Great!  If the first 2 tips haven’t tanked your campaign this 3rd one will burn some bridges!  Whatever you do, do NOT do ANY pre-call planning.  Who has time for that?  Just pound out call after call so you can have the highest call volume in the office (because that’s the most important thing right?).  Prospects LOVE it when you call, know nothing about them, tell them all about yourself, push them for a meeting and a req, and then ask them a bunch of questions that you could easily learn with 2-3 minutes of research on their company website and LinkedIn.

Special Bonus

You still have some life left in your campaign?  Let’s take care of that now!  Here’s the big secret.  This is KEY:  Don’t do any 2 calls the same way.  By all means do NOT follow a script.  You don’t want to sound like a robot, do you?  Make every call UNIQUE.  That will keep it interesting, won’t it?  The last thing you want is to know what you did to make the call a success. So be sure to mix it up!

There you have it!  You follow those 3 tips (and the BONUS!) and I can promise you that you will have the most futile, miserable cold call campaign that you can imagine!

Okay, I admit it.  I may have been (Slightly!) sarcastic when I wrote this blog.  These are pretty extreme, even silly, examples but who hasn’t seen this?  The article, while written tongue in cheek, is true.  If you lead your call with who you are, push the prospect for a meeting or a req too soon, waste manager’s time asking questions you should already know the answers to, and (BONUS!) make every call different by “winging” them instead of following a script you will fail.  There is no maybe here.  It is as close to a guarantee as I can give you in this business.

Now, if you’re ready to learn how to do it right you may want check out our blog post Cold Calling Tips Best Practices or download our Cold Calling Best Practices White Paper.


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Topics: cold calling

Sales Call Preparation for IT Staffing Sales

by Dan Fisher on Nov 20, 2014 11:19:47 AM

A few weeks ago I was coaching a sales rep where I was jacked into a headset and could hear the entire phone call including the prospect on the other end of the line.  Unfortunately the call went horribly wrong.  The prospect answered and the sales rep instantly froze and fumbled his way through his introduction.  The prospect then asked a few questions where the sales rep stuttered a very unconfident response in which the prospect responded with “I’m all set, thanks for the call.” Click.  

Afterwards, I asked the rep what he thought had happened and why he thought the call deteriorated so quickly. The reps response, "I didn't expect the prospect to answer my call.  I was caught off guard."  Say what?  Come again?  What do you mean you didn’t expect the prospect to answer the phone?   Mind you, this was a hot prospect the sales rep had been pursuing for months.  

This may sound crazy, but unfortunately I see this behavior with IT staffing sales people a lot more often than you think I would.  Sales people consciously neglecting to prepare for sales calls.

Accessing decision makers over the phone has never been more difficult (just imagine, phone lines will be gone in a few years. What will we do then?!).  In fact, accessing decision makers is by far the biggest frustration I hear from sales people and sales managers.   But you know who else is frustrated with these sales calls?  Your prospects, that’s who.  Why?  According to a study by the CEB, only 36% of sales professionals are prepared for sales calls.   Those numbers are absolutely staggering!!

Have you ever received an unsolicited sales call?  Better yet, have you ever received an unsolicited sales call from an unprepared sales person who knows nothing about you and your business? I have and I have to say, they’re pretty annoying and absolute waste of time. This is another blog topic in and of itself!  The long and short of it is, I'm actually embarrassed for these people.  

Knowing how incredibly difficult it is to reach IT decision makers (I find it takes roughly 30 raw dials to reach a decision maker), doesn't that place an even higher premium on sales call preparation and the ability to execute your sales calls?    I certainly think it does.  Heck, you have one shot to really knock their socks off! Who knows how long it will be before you get that IT hiring manager on the phone again.

Why then are only 36% of sales professionals prepared for their sales calls?  Here are a few theories.

  1. Sales managers rely too heavily (and in many cases exclusively) on activity as their primary means for measuring sales success (call volume) and fail to measure outcomes. These sales managers continue to apply pressure on their sales people to “close” face to face meetings from sales calls. This actually drives aggressive and transactional sales behavior where sales people make their personal agenda (landing the meeting) the priority of the call. Thus, they don’t prepare properly because their goal is a meeting and they need to secure “X” number of meetings to keep their manager off their back.  Prospects however see this from a mile away, detest this behavior, clam up and end the call. Everyone looses in this scenario.

  2. Sales people are not clear on how to prepare for sales calls. Sales people have not been taught how or shown how to properly prepare for a sales call.

  3. Some sales people are just flat out lazy. Yes, I said it.  Be honest, it is far more easier to stick with the status quo and simply “wing” your calls then it is to put in the proper time and effort in preparing for your sales calls.

If you are a sales leader or business owner you have to ask yourself, how much is this costing me and my organization?  More importantly, what are you doing to ensure your sales team is prepared for their sales calls?  Below are four tips on how to prepare for your sales calls.

Pre-Call Planning Research

The real key to getting good management level meetings and having meaningful conversations with IT hiring managers including executives is to have good situational and functional knowledge of their business. This knowledge can be developed through personal experience, training, reading, research and planning and speaking with other people in the account. You should also be checking their Linkedin, Twitter , Facebook and other social media pages for additional information.

Prior to making a sales call sales people should try to uncover their buyer’s persona.  A buyer’s persona is data including critical issues that will be relevant to your  conversation.  Ideally, you want to try to uncover any of the following about your prospects before making the cold call:

Role & Responsibility including level of seniority
Career path
The problems they face day to day given their role
Main information sources (what do they read, where do they do their research online)
Industry drivers/macro trends
Their blog
Shared connections

This research should only take you a few minutes, not hours.  

Impress Your Prospect, Demonstrate Credibility

The quickest way to turn your prospect off and create objections is to talk about yourself, your company and your service offerings.  Do NOT talk about your company accolades and why you think you are so unique. The real key to building credibility with your buyers and compelling them to open up and speak with you is by sharing with them what you know about them.  You will impress your prospects and clients by demonstrating what you know about them personally and their company and/or department.  Tell them how much time you spent researching their company, what you learned and why it is so important to you to build a relationship with them and their firm.

What’s in it For Me?

When you make a sales call, especially a cold call, your prospect is thinking:

“Is this sales person worth my time?  What will I get out of this call if I take 5 minutes to speak with this sales person?”

You better have a good answer to this question.  To do so, you need to come ready and prepared to share ideas and insight with your prospect that would be of value to him or her.  If you understand your prospects persona, you will know what type of information they will be interested in.  In general, corporate buyers are really interested in learning about market trends and how their business or department stacks up against the competitors and other peer organizations.  They’re also interested in understanding how you approach problems with your customers and how you impact your customer’s business. You need to come prepared with these stories and ready to share lessons learned.

The Art of Questioning

In addition to being prepared and understanding exactly what it is you will say to open your call, you also need to come prepared with your top 10 open ended probing questions. Think about what it is that you really want to get out of the conversation. The answer to that question will tell you what questions you need to be asking.  Just make sure you ask them in an open-ended manner.  The quality of prospects response will vary greatly if you asked close-ended questions vs. open ended questions.

So don’t be part of the 64% of sales people who are not prepared for sales calls.  You only get one chance, so take full advantage of it!

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Topics: cold calling

Sales Metrics to Hold Sales Managers Accountable

by Gerry Gadoury on Oct 28, 2014 10:14:20 AM

As owners and senior management it is our responsibility to track the behaviors and sales metrics of our sales managers, just as we expect them to track their sales team and hold team members accountable.  This is a critical step in the development of a strong and successful sales culture that, as owners and senior managers, we model the behavior we expect of our direct reports (Managers) and, by extension, the individual contributors in the organization.  In most organizations the sales managers are also responsible for carrying their own book of business.  That is the assumption for the purpose of this discussion.  So, what do we track?

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5 Tips For Turning New Hires into Sales Superstars

by Dan Fisher on Oct 28, 2014 9:51:01 AM

We are paid professionals for identifying, interviewing, screening and delivering superstar candidates for our clients. We get paid handsome fees for our work. So why is it so darn difficult to turn our own internal hires into superstars?  After all, we're the experts, are we not? 

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Seven Signs Your New Job Order is Not Legit

by Gerry Gadoury on Oct 15, 2014 8:39:00 AM

Finally! You hang up the phone and look at your notes. You’ve been working for (what feels like) forever to get into this account, to get this manager to work with you and now you’ve got an order. All that’s left to do is to get it in the system and get it in front of the recruiters.

But wait, after all this work are you certain that this order is ready to put in front of your delivery team? Will it best represent your client’s need (and your reputation!)? Nothing will derail a salesperson’s efforts faster than losing the faith of the recruiting team. Are you even certain that this is a real order? Is this supporting your new Account Development goals? Here is a quick guide to make sure that the order has the commitments from your client to ensure a positive outcome and win the minds of your delivery team.

The 7 Commitments are important in gauging how “real” a job order is. You need to verify the commitments in every conversation, using various and differing approaches. If you don’t have all the commitments, it does not mean you should not work the job order, it means you should figure out how to get the client committed.

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Topics: closing job orders, IT Knowledge

How to Write a Prospecting Email

by Dan Fisher on Oct 2, 2014 8:00:00 AM

Dear Jim,

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Topics: Email

Four Simple Ways to Improve your IT Industry Knowledge

by Gerry Gadoury on Sep 25, 2014 7:41:00 AM

Success in the IT Staffing Industry demands a commitment to ongoing education.  Being a sales person in this industry requires us to be able to “talk the talk” with hiring managers and consultants.  This means possessing IT industry knowledge. Whether that means understanding the differences between software development methodologies when speaking to a VP of software development, or understanding the unique needs of a business leader in the Retail space when they are looking for a Business Analyst, one thing remains the same: the better YOU understand what THEY are saying and what THEY need the more confident you will feel and the more confident that manager will be working with you and that your candidates will be on target.  And, perhaps most importantly, if that manager is confident that you are going to deliver for them, how likely are they to take calls from your competitors?

Now, it is important to remember that we do not need to become subject matter experts in our chosen niches (whether they be technical, job specific, or industry).  What is critical is that we have a strong “High-Level” IT industry knowledge including the  jargon, work flow, and specific needs of both our clients and our consultants.  This knowledge takes time to accumulate, but the steps toward that knowledge are easy to take.

  1. When you hear a manager (or consultant) mention a technology or a business process that is new to you write it down.  During the time you devote to research each day (and I KNOW you devote time to research each day!) Google or Wikipedia that phrase.  No more time than that, just a quick search to get a very basic understanding of what that is.  If you find that technology or process being mentioned more than a few times THEN do a more concerted search on the topic and take a little more time to gain more depth of knowledge in the area but, like everything else, jealously guard your research time and only dedicate time for a deeper dive to topics that you hear often enough to warrant your investment of that time.

    2-    Talk to your Hiring Managers and Consultants.  You will never have a better learning source than the folks who work in that space day in and day out.  Additionally, if you show genuine interest and a desire to learn about the things they are passionate about it creates an exceptional opportunity to build rapport.  Generally speaking, technical folks love to talk about technology with people who want to hear about it.  The same goes for business leaders who are given the opportunity to expound on business processes that people in their personal lives rarely have any interest in.  The key here is to be genuine and strategic in your questioning.  When talking to a manager (whether it be when you are taking an order, getting interview feedback, or just following up) ask the manager about what you are trying to learn when it comes up. 
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Topics: IT Knowledge

The Truth About Your Sales Data

by Dan Fisher on Aug 26, 2014 10:25:00 AM

How do you recognize the difference between your superstar sales reps and your average performers?  
When I ask this question of my customers they typically tell me, “that is easy, I just look at their performance. Either they’re making placements or they’re not.”  They go on to say that they look at the data, specifically the activity and performance numbers. Sounds easy enough, but what do you do when your data tells you that your superstars and your average reps are performing the same activities and producing the same level of activity?  To take it step further and I have certainly seen this one throughout my career, what do you do when you see that your C player is actually doing more activity than your superstar?  How can that be?

The Problem With Your Data

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How to Implement a Unified Sales Process (Part 3 of 3)

by Dan Fisher on Jul 26, 2014 6:42:00 PM

This is part three of a three part series.  On June 19, 2014 I presented at Bullhorn Live on how to implement a unified sales process.  Below is part three of the series.  You can read part one here.  You can read part two here.

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Topics: IT staffing, Sales Training, sales process, process mapping

How to Implement a Unified Sales Process (Part Two)

by Dan Fisher on Jul 15, 2014 2:49:00 PM

This is part two of a three part series.  On June 19, 2014 I presented at Bullhorn Live on how to implement a unified sales process.  Below is part two of the series.  You can read part one here.

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Topics: change management, user adoption, IT staffing, sales process

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