Cold calling can seem daunting. You have a list of numbers to call each day, and you may find that your calls go to voicemail more often than to an actual person. You can’t seem to get someone on a call, much less set up an actual appointment. You try to call more people, but get the same results.
When I first started cold calling, I struggled to get prospects on the phone. I diligently worked through my list of numbers, often with little success. Then I changed my approach, and for six straight months I booked at least 15 appointments each day. After learning these three cold calling rules, you can use them to help you meet your goals:
1. Get a “yes, yes”
This concept originates from the book How to Win Friends and Influence People, which teaches readers how to connect with people by being more likeable.
Getting a “yes, yes” is about attaining agreement. This strategy is not the same as tricking the prospect into saying yes by asking open-ended questions that are not related to what you are calling about. You want to obtain agreement on key principles that are relevant to the topic at hand. Start with small things that are principle-based and then build on those. You want to create a shared viewpoint by agreeing on things you have in common.
Most prospects you call are going to say that they’re happy with the services or products they currently have, so begin with that. If you are selling insurance, for instance, begin by saying, “I’m sure you have an insurance plan that you’re happy with.” The prospect will most likely agree that they do, but because you understand their position, they will instantly feel more comfortable with you.
Then move the conversation along using questions about things you will continue to agree on: Can we agree that time is money and that anything is possible? Is it possible that there is a better insurance offer out there?
Once you have the prospect agreeing with you, you begin to transition to the process of setting up an appointment with them. It’s important that you never disagree with the prospect because this can be seen as arguing. You can acknowledge their objections and agree with their viewpoint, but not their conclusion.
2. Cold calling is not a numbers game.
There is a long-held belief that the more people you call, the more appointments you’ll be able to set up. This method doesn’t account for the reality of the world we live in today.
Think about your own workday. You might be in meetings in the morning, running errands over your lunch break and taking your kids to a doctor’s appointment in the afternoon. It could be that you are only at your desk for a couple hours on a given day. If I only call once before moving to the next number, it’s highly unlikely that I will connect with the prospects on that call. But if I missed you in the morning, I may be able to reach you in the afternoon.
The key is to call fewer prospects each day, and instead call those prospects more often. I recommend calling each lead three to four times a day for up to three to four days. As an example, I was making 40 contacts each day to get 15 scheduled appointments. But don’t leave a voicemail since this will put the ball in the other person’s court. Only leave a voicemail after you’ve exhausted trying to get ahold of them as a last resort.
3. You can sell more to prospects who don’t have a need.
Most people fail at cold calling because of this one mistake. The mantra that we have all heard is that you must first identify a need when prospecting on the phone. This old way of thinking has you only focusing on prospects who have a demonstrated need. By doing this you have limited your potential prospects to a small percentage of any B2B market.
This is because 95% of all prospects will tell you that they are happy with what they have. They don’t have a need. They’re happy with what has worked in the past. If you’re only focusing on those who have a need, it can make your cold calling efforts frustrating and akin to trying to find a needle in a haystack.
The company Febreze was almost pulled from the shelves for this exact reason. According to The Power of Habit, Febreze advertised exclusively to people they felt had a need: people with pets or who smoked. But, these people were desensitized to the smell of their home and didn’t know it smelled bad. The market audience was actually with people who preferred their home to smell fresh and clean. Had Febreze only targeted people they felt had a need, they wouldn’t have survived as a company.
People are used to what they have until they are shown something different, so don’t eliminate this population as potential prospects. They are your best target market.