Stop Begging for Meetings on Your Cold Calls
Cold calling. Love it or hate we have to do it. It’s just part of sales. It’s certainly not the only prospecting tool in our toolbox but it sure is an important one. At the end of the day you really can’t build relationships without actually talking with your prospects. I spend a lot of time working with sales reps on cold calling including their approach, technique and call planning. The one trend that I have noticed is that everyone’s goal on a cold call is to get a meeting with the prospect. I think that is a pretty lofty expectation and usually a recipe for disappointment and frustration.Would You Take a Meeting off a Cold Call?Think about it for a second. If you received a cold call from a sales person who sells carpet, home mortgages, windows, landscaping services or home alarm systems, how likely are you to grant them a face to face meeting off of that cold call? Not very likely. You don’t know them and you don’t trust them, even if you had a need for their offering. Here is where most sales people go wrong. Sales professionals continue to push and beg for face to face meetings on their cold calls. Doing this makes them look desperate and needy.
First, I’m NOT suggesting you shouldn’t be asking for meetings when cold calling. Of course we want to convert our cold calls into face to face meetings with our prospects. We just need to be smart about when and how we go about asking for sales meetings. Salespeople shouldn’t be asking for a meeting before the prospect has given us some sort of verbal indication that they're interested in our service or, before the prospect has told the salesperson that he or she thinks there could be a fit between your two organizations. When salespeople beg for meetings with their prospects before they've discussed these items with the prospect they come across desperate and needy and sound like they're begging for a meeting.
Sales Rep: “Hi Mr. Customer, Jim Smith calling from XYZ Solutions. How are you today?”
Prospect: “Good, how can I help you?”
Sales Rep: “I’m calling today because we’re an IT services firm that helps customers.....I'm going to be in your neighborhood next week and would like to schedule a meeting with you to talk about how we can help you with your staffing needs. How does your schedule look?”
Prospect: The prospect responds by saying "I'm not interested and I don't have time." In response, the sales person goes into objection handling mode and makes a second request, typically perceived as begging ("I just need 15 minutes of your time") for a meeting by the prospect. The prospect again objects to the meeting and the sales person runs out of reasons for why the prospect should take their meeting. Does This Sound Familiar?
The Followup Call to the Original Cold Call is Now More Difficult
Now imagine calling the prospect back 30 days later. The follow up call actually becomes more challenging than the original cold call because in the mind of the prospect, the sales person is the stereotypical pushy sales rep who only cares about their self-serving agenda and fails to add value. They also fail to disarm the prospect and as a result the prospect is on full guard when receiving the salesperson's follow up call because they remember the prior experience
So when salespeople push and beg for meetings without first disarming and adding value they unintentionally create a wall between them and the prospect. They freeze up, and the salesperson as a big bad bear with big teeth! You know this when prospects offer nothing but very short, cryptic responses to your questions are difficult to engage. Every interaction with the prospect from that point forward becomes more difficult because they the prospect is becoming even more reluctant to open up and talk.
So instead of “tearing down the wall” that stands between you and your prospect on that initial cold call, we’re actually building it up. In the example above, we’re actually reinforcing that wall with thick steel!
Stop Begging for Meetings on Your Cold Calls and Focus on This
When you cold call a prospect for the first time, I suggest you keep it really simple. Your goal should simply be to make the prospect feel comfortable in speaking with you. I was given advice years ago to think of it as just trying to make a new friend. There are lots of ways to do this. Use humor, be humble and make them feel in control of the call. Remember, building trust is the heart of soul of sales. You’ll never earn someone’s trust if they’re not even comfortable speaking with you. If you make your prospects feel comfortable in speaking with you than I guarantee you will have an easy time landing face to face meetings. Landing those meetings will most likely come off of the 2nd, 3rd or even 4th phone call. But were in this for the long haul to build relationships, not be a transactional sales rep, right?
About Dan Fisher
Dan Fisher is founder and owner of Menemsha Group, a provider of sales enablement solutions dedicated to helping IT staffing firms improve win rates, shorten their sales cycle, and increase revenue per sales rep. Since launching Menemsha Group in 2008, Dan has consulted with over 200 IT staffing firms and has invested over 5000 hours coaching IT staffing sales reps. He’s authored is his own proprietary sales methodology and has previously spoken at Staffing World, TechServe Alliance and Bullhorn Live 2012. Prior to launching Menemsha Group, Dan spent 16 years in the IT industry running local, regional and national sales teams. Dan worked for Kelly Services, Oracle Corporation and Alliance Consulting. Dan currently resides in Boston, Ma.