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Prospecting and Cold Calls – How Do You Feel?

Learn to execute Cold CallsTake a look at the picture, and what phrase comes to mind? Unfortunately, this is how a lot of sales people feel right before they pick up the phone to start making cold calls. I think we’ve all had this feeling, however this “insert your favorite phrase here” moment is quickly replaced by the thrill of victory when a discovery call goes well.

Say what you will, discovery calls are one of the most time-efficient ways to prospect for new opportunities. (Yes, I realize I now have sales managers who love me and sales people who hate me!) I’m not sure why we all get so worked up about the thought of making discovery calls into new opportunities, but it seems to be universal. You’ve heard the statistics: 99% of sales professionals hate cold calling and the other 1% are lying. That aside, some of my best opportunities and relationships have come through effective discovery calls.

When I talk with sales people and ask if their prospecting plan includes discovery calls, most sheepishly admit that they do them rarely, if at all.   When I ask why, there are only 4 answers:

A I don’t know how to do them well
B I feel like a creep and expect to be rejected
C They don’t work in my industry (which is usually an excuse that combines A and B)
D All of the above

The majority of the time, B is the answer that trumps all the others. No wonder the thoughts and feelings that register when looking at the picture of the convertible following too closely behind the Porta-Potty-hauling-truck can be the sales person’s reaction to the days blocked out for dials. The negative self talk goes something like, “Oh___! I’m on a collision course with disaster and when it’s over I’ll be stinky, slimy and disgusting.”  This mind-set alone will guarantee unsuccessful prospecting calls.

Let’s put things in perspective.  In case you haven’t noticed, I use the term discovery calls instead of cold calls, because that’s really what they are. A sales professional is simply calling into a company to discover whether or not there is a need for what they do. The goal of a discovery call is simple: To have an Authentic Business Conversation. An authentic business conversation will never diminish a professional’s integrity, although trying too hard  to close for business on an initial call could.  Not to mention it puts far too much pressure on the sales person and the prospect. Closing for an appointment with an unqualified prospect doesn’t make much sense either.

SELLect Sales Tip: Rethink the purpose.  The purpose of your discovery call is to qualify an opportunity and determine if there’s a reason to go further with the prospect.

SELLect Sales Tip: Learn to execute.  Effective discovery calls are conversational, not scripty.

SELLect Sales Tip: Change your beliefs.  As a sales professional, you have a wealth of professional expertise that is valuable to your prospects.  It’s your obligation to let them know you exist.

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