Sales Call Planning for Cold Calling, Key to Productive Cold Calls
From my experience, most IT staffing sales reps approach cold calling with a process and language that is at best, out-dated and littered with old school cold calling tactics that lead to cold calling failure. To be successful at cold calling today, sales professionals must:
- Have a well prepared sales call plan
- Have well prepared message or script for their target audience
- Have completed an effective call plan
- Understand their buyer's persona
- Speak with confidence and conviction
- Have a repeatable process or methodology for cold calling
Just like Derek Jeter who takes hundreds if not thousands of swings and ground balls per day and actors rehearsing their lines over and over again, sales people need to follow suit. Sales people not only need to be held accountable for sales call planning for cold calling, but also rehearsing their lines until they have internalized their scripts.
Here is an example of today’s typical cold call.
Sales Rep: "Hi Jim, John Smith calling from Hi-Tech Solutions, how are you today?"
Prospect: “Good, how can I help you?"
Sales Rep: "My company provides <insert broadcast message> and I wanted to schedule a 30 minute meeting with you to discuss how we can partner together. How does your calendar look?"
Prospect: "I don't have time for a meeting now nor do I have a need for your services.
Sales Rep: "Mr. prospect, I promise to keep the meeting brief. I'd like to introduce you to my company and our service offerings and better understand your company and your future needs."
Prospect: "Really, I'm busy and I'm all set for now."
Sales Rep: "O.K. would it be O.K. if I stayed in touch with you in the future?"
Prospect: "Yeah, sure go ahead."
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What is wrong with this cold call? A few things jump out:It doesn't appear the sales rep knows much if anything about the prospect's business and that goes back to a lack of sales call planning.
It doesn't appear the sales rep knows much if anything about the prospect himself (Jim).
The sales rep is "pushing" himself and his service offerings on the prospect by asking for a meeting (where did the prospect indicate interest in meeting)? Where is the value-add for the prospect that answers the question, what's in it for me?
Consider The Following Sales Call Planning and Cold Calling Tips
First, there are a lot of things that are outside the control of the sales rep but sales planning and preparing your cold calling message and what you say is NOT ONE OF THEM. Step one is IT staffing sales reps must prepare a sales call plan.
A well designed call plan requires sales people to set clear objectives for the call, what they intend to do on the call, anticipate how the buyer might respond and identify alternative actions in the event the call deviates from the original plan. This simple and straight forward plan can have a dramatic impact on the quality and productivity of your cold calling , So, if you want more client meetings and ultimately more business, it really starts with sales call planning for cold calling which means creating a sales call plan before making your cold calls.
Second, corporate buyers and IT hiring managers are more likely to open up and talk with salespeople who share relevant data points (research, analytics, bench marking studies, analysts reports) that are relevant to their job function and business operation than hearing a "pitch." By incorporating this into your cold calling call plan and building out scripts that incorporate this strategy, your cold calling results will change dramatically. Just be sure that the data points you use are properly aligned with the buyer persona of the prospect you're calling. Most importantly, make sure these data points are aligned with your service offering. Again, all this research should get incorporated into your cold calling call plan.
Your script could sound something like this.
Sales Rep: "Hi Jim, John Smith with Hi-Tech Solutions."
Prospect: "Hi John, how can I help you?"
Sales Rep: "Jim, I have been researching you and your company and understand your building a data warehouse for improved enterprise decision making for your business leaders."
Prospect: "Yes, that is correct, but I don't think I have a need for your service."
Sales Rep: "I'm calling because we're working with other IT executives like yourself in the data warehousing space. The purpose of my call was to share with you some of the key trends and benchmarks taking place including best practices, challenges. Would you like to learn more and how this could impact your business?"
In this example, the sales professional is accomplishing a few things:
- They're quickly building credibility by demonstrating that they did their research on the prospect and his/her business. The credit goes to creating a call plan.
- They're positioning themselves as a thought leader and source of value by offering relevant data to the prospect
- They're making it a conversation, not a pitch
- They're closing for the call by sharing something of value for the prospect
How do you prepare for your cold calls? Do you create sales call plans?
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.