Cold calling doesn’t always work these days. An Accenture report claims that more than 90% of decision-makers never respond to cold calls. True, the “greet and meet,” “let’s catch-up,” or “stop by to introduce myself” does not get prospects excited. However, like the evolution of selling, the first connection with a prospect is also changing. We need to tidy up our scripts, shape up our message and start connecting with the buyer’s perspective. Cold calling may be dead, but connect calling is very much alive and kicking.
Why do cold calls turn prospects off? Sadly, their experience as a receiver has not been that great. Just look at yourself as a potential buyer. Have you recently received ‘not-so-good-prospecting’ phone calls? Maybe from an internet provider company, insurance, travel agency, etc. What did you find the most annoying about these calls? Exactly…the salesperson. Unfortunately, many salespeople fall into the typical opening story traps:
- We do this; we are located here and here
- We are great; we are the best
- We have great solutions
- We are eco-friendly, followed by: “Why don’t we catch up next week Tuesday or Wednesday; what suits you better?”
Spot the common word: WE! These introductions and statements do not pass the “So what?” test. Everything said so far comes across to a prospect as self-focused and has no real meaning to them. No wonder prospects react with: “No, thank you, we are busy” or “Call back in six months.”
Now look at this from the buyer’s perspective; if you have interrupted a prospect with your phone call, what goes through their mind?
- If this is a short call I take it
- I don’t want to speak to someone who is wasting my time
- If they say something insightful, relevant to my challenges, I will listen.
With that in mind, how should you behave?
- It needs to be a short call, you are not selling anything
- Your aim is to arrange a follow-up meeting
- Your message needs to be insightful for your prospect.
- You should not waste their time
Structure; You need a script, but you cannot sound like you are reading a script. Hence you need to practice with words you feel comfortable with. It needs to be natural. It needs to be you. Still, a structure helps. It’s your guide for those first 30 seconds. Note “the connect” immediately after your introduction:
- Who you are, what you do, and… connect (Referral – social media – You are not alone)
- Pitch a most likely challenge
- Your promise that you can help
- Your promise to not waste their time
Why does connecting work? This has to do with trust. Out of the blue calls start at zero connection, referrals on the other hand get the highest connection score. Customers are 4x more likely to buy when referred by a friend or colleague. [Neilsen]. Instead of fast-tracking yourself to the decision-maker, build up connections with stakeholders in the buying group. How would that sound?
Any type of recognition and connection helps. Social media connections help. Being connected with your prospect on Linkedin increases your connection score. You are 70% more likely to get an appointment if you join LinkedIn Groups. [Vorsight]. 73% of salespeople using social selling as part of their sales process, outperform their sales peers and exceeded quota 23% more often [Aberdeen].
But feeling connected also means for a prospective buyer an assurance that they are not alone in their challenges. 95% of buyers chose a solution provider that “provided them with ample content to help
navigate through each stage of the buying process” [DemandGen Report]. They don’t know, what they don’t know. They are hungry for insights.
Pitch a most-likely challenge. Start re-writing your scripts today. Ensure you are pitching the fact that you have the deepest understanding of the challenge or issue your prospect is facing.
- … capturing growth from xyz trend
- … dealing with risks like abc
- … facing pressure from def
- … seeking a competitive advantage from trend pqr
- … adapting to new regulations from ghi
Your mention that you have helped similar companies with these challenges gives you leverage. And the promise that you will share insights and won’t waste their time is ticking all the boxes of a meeting to look forward to. Through connect calling, I am sure your prospects want to connect with you! Good luck!
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hi Mark, thanks for your comments. yes, breakthrough insights help. But these are not always at hand. The point was through connecting first you increase the chances vs a cold call.
The emphasize is that you have a deep understanding of challenges ahead and that you can help.
Hi Ton, you should consider using the concept of introducing a “breakthrough approach to….” something that says we are different, listen to me. Interestingly when talking to lots of BDR’s it would appear the first 7-12 seconds makes or breaks a call. You need an attention grabber to make the recipient think “Can I afford to miss out on hearing what this person has to say”.
At the risk of being controversial I would say you are selling on this call, you are selling the next step a meeting, focus on the value they will gain by giving more of their time.