Hook them from the start
Before making a cold call, find a good reason to speak to the company’s decision maker. This may will involve researching the business to look for alignment or commonality between your company and the prospect’s business. Review their website, annual reports, newspaper clippings, and blog to find your “hook”.
Your research should help you develop a key value proposition that you can take to the prospect. Now develop a concise and compelling opening message that highlights this proposition and will grab the prospect’s attention from the get-go.
Avoid gimmicky, old fashioned questions like:
- “How are you?”
- “Are you the final Decision Maker?”
- “What are your priority needs?”
Instead build on what ‘hooks’ your research has given you:
- “I noticed on your website you are developing a new market ……….
- “And the reason why I am calling is we have assisted clients in similar endeavours …….”
- “We have clients who experienced these issues …………. What are your challenges/issues/problems?”
Use the right bait
Another tactic to catch your big fish may be to focus on a key differentiator later on in the conversation. This is the prospect’s perception of what makes you better than your competition. Here you would talk about the benefits you offer, such as superior service, improved quality, speedy delivery times and any other attributes which make your company different or better than your competitors. Remember, the “differentiator” is what your customers and prospects find valuable, not what you believe to be valuable.
Have you spent time identifying why your offering is better than the alternatives on offer? Why would your customers want and need what you offer rather than your competitor’s product or service? Can you back up your claims with case studies, testimonials, facts and figures? Be as clear as possible about what sets you apart from your competition and keep your answer short and simple.
6 Steps to getting that first appointment
Write your differentiators down and keep them close to hand. If your aim is to get an appointment with the right person, the person who, after thorough research, proves to be the one who is qualified to make a decision, here’s a script to follow:
- Introduce yourself and your company, and launch into the reason for your call. Example: “…and the reason why I’m phoning is that I see you are opening a branch in Timbuktu and I’m wondering what liability insurance you have in place for the personal safety of your new staff…”
- Pause and invite them to comment. Show a sincere interest in what their company is doing. Business partnering is all about putting their company first, not yours.
- Put forward a reason to meet: “We specialise in X insurance designed specifically for expatriate staff in that new region…”
- Now use third-party proof (name dropping): “Companies like X and Y have used us extensively in this regard.”
- Close on an appointment time: “So when would suit you, early next Tuesday or later in the week, perhaps Friday morning?”
- Remember to restate the reason for your meeting: “Great, I look forward to learning more about your expansion plans (be specific), and discussing how we can ensure the safety of your team while they are away from home.”
You now have your own unique aim – are you ready to cast your line in the water?
Reeling them in
As you methodically sift through your list or database of prospects, finding a responsive recipient is like finding a gold nugget. Most suspects will automatically say “no thank you,” when they realise you are trying to sell them something. Breaking through this defence mechanism is the challenge and is done by first arousing the prospect’s curiosity and then following up with an open question.
You are likely to only get one chance at this, so you need to be well prepared. Before you pick up that phone, you know that the terrain will be tough but you have the map, tools and determination to do this.
The three things that your prospect wants to hear in the first 20 seconds are:
- Who are you?
- Why are you calling?
- What’s in it for me?
The two types of openings
1. Product-based opening
“Hello, John? This is ‘My Name’ from ‘My Company’. John, ‘My Company’, which leads the field in (name your product/service) and (state your specific benefit), e.g. reduces your cost of sales by a minimum of 20%. I see that you are not currently using our ‘Our Product’. [PAUSE] The reason I wanted to speak to you personally is to explain how this works and to give you an idea of how other people in your industry are using it.”
As you can see, this is a straight product call. With this type of opening, you are looking for people who are in the market for a particular product or who are in obvious need of it (though they may not know it).
2. Benefit-based opening
The second type of opening statement offers a benefit. It doesn’t mention the product or service, just the benefits. Here’s an example: “Hello, John? This is ‘My Name’ from ‘My Company’. The reason I wanted to speak to you personally is I have noticed that [insert what you’ve found out about their company]. I want to discuss how ‘My Company’ can save you Rx every month in service fees by [state benefit]. How does that sound?”
As you can see, this is giving people a different perspective of your product or service. Both types of statements have their merits.
It may take you a while to come up with the right opening. It starts with knowing the aim of the call. Can you explain your call objective in one sentence? Are you trying to close the sale in one call? Do you want permission to send info? Do you want to set up an appointment? Once you know exactly why you’re calling, you can mentally prepare your telescript. Remember, not every person you talk to will want to speak to you, no matter how fantastic your opening is. Just move on, they’re obviously not suitable prospects.