Cold-calling is an old-school sales tactic that some advisers may be aware of but are reluctant to use.
This is understandable given how some life insurance firms have used it in the past, but Jim Prigg from KnowledgeMaster writes that advisers can reclaim this tactic for their use.
The best way to do so is by emphasising the help you can provide and forming a strategy to promote that help to people who would benefit from it.
Part Of A Strategy
The answer to the question posed in the headline is yes… provided you and your people have been effectively and sensibly trained with practical material. This means mastering jurisdictions such as:
- Pre-call disciplines
- Creating and practising effective contact scripts
- Employing simple phone etiquette
- Knowing how to handle objections pre-emptively
- Understanding what advice services you are providing
- Knowing the required outcomes before you even start phoning.
I have watched as those involved in providing advice or services turned their attention to “soft” online requests for information, or alternately tried to “flog” an outcome while hoping their website will generate leads. If your practice is relying heavily on inbound responses then you may be missing out on a lucrative source of potential income by not using cold calling as an adjunct to the leads you receive.
Cold calling has received some negative press in recent weeks, and rightly so, because those practices went beyond the pale of good customer service, but it can still remain a part of an effective business generation sales strategy.
Notice I said part of a strategy. There are still certain sections of the community who are amenable to a well-constructed offer that involves asking the right questions to elicit a positive response delivered by phone.
Cold calling can be a frightening experience for people who have been asked to simply pick up a phone and start calling a cold, often dormant or neglected list of previous clients or website enquiries. Who wouldn’t be afraid of such a stupid demand!
Yet that is often what is expected of the newest kid on the team. No wonder people are afraid of rejection. No wonder people hate cold calling thrust on them by poorly prepared business owners.
If you are going to cold call to any source of prospects then you will need effective contact systems, psychological conditioning, managerial direction, sensible rewards and positive analysis of results. Often there is more time put into planning the annual Christmas party than there is to effectively training those who are at the forefront of business acquisition using cold calling.
Starting at the very basic premise that you will need to contact people you don’t know to talk about advice and services they may not be interested in, the very notion of cold calling carries some seriously heavy psychological baggage.
Why not look at the task of cold calling in a positive manner by giving it better contact impact names such as: referrals contact reconnaissance, warm calling (after adequate research), market fact-finding, telephone interaction, customer research or prospect definition. Because cold calling can cover all of those jurisdictions.
What You May Be Missing
If you are having to rely largely on in-bound demand systems then that can place you or your organisation at a distinct disadvantage for these reasons:
- By ignoring traditional contact mechanisms you are ignoring traditional response types. This can be those who are older, set in their ways but effective managers or operators used to a human being calling them!
- You have to hope you have built a really effective leads generation program which target the prospects you want to respond to your other lead generation methods.
- Are these so called prospects from the leads generation program merely disinterested browsers or information seekers? It is often hard to differentiate the curious time-waster from the genuine prospect. Cold calling can clearly and quickly determine that with well constructed questions.
- If you are waiting on potential clients to discover you then that will only happen when they think they have a need. This overlooks the fact that many people are not even aware of a problem until it is pointed out to them, and this often takes place on a cold call which can lead to an appointment or dialogue for further discussion.
Do Your Homework
“Time spent on reconnaissance is seldom wasted”, is an old military saying. This is true when cold calling. With the amazing amount of information online through social media, LinkedIn and other resources you can learn a lot about potential users of your services.
One of the biggest problems with cold calling is when people have not done their research on the prospects they call. This leads to rejection and a negative impact (if sustained) on the callers.
You need to clearly define your target market or ideal client(s) to call. This will reduce wasted time calling the wrong people or prospects.
Another reason cold calling has significant collateral damage to a data base is because the prospects are called at the wrong times. Trying to contact a busy executive at 9.00 am or a marketing manager at lunch time can be suicidal.
When cold calling is properly planned it can have the following impact on your business and potential clients:
- It is the beginning of a real relationship with real humans that can lead to a real interview or dialogue about what your advice can do to help clients.
- It is an excellent way to do a real fact find about the ability of your solutions to solve a potential client’s problems.
- Cold calling can provide you with an opportunity to educate people about what is going on within their demographic and how your clients, who are in a similar situation to them, are having their problems solved by your advice and services.
What Should You Do Now?
Have a real hard think about how your electronic prospecting capabilities can be enhanced by a sensible cold calling training program. Here is a range of content that should be included in any Interactive Cold Calling program.
Which would you be able to use to increase your cold calling effectiveness?
- Personal preparation before phoning
- Attitudinal mindset when phoning
- Phone etiquette
- The way we say things
- Defining the ideal client(s)
- Determining the warmth of the contact list
- The value of reconnaissance: Learning about prospects
- Pre-emptive contact tips
- What outcomes are you looking for?
- Understanding why you are calling
- Draft contact scripts for cold calling
- The power of an interactive opening
- The subtle art of using questions instead of making statements
- Handling objections on the phone
- How to give your prospect a reason to listen
- Killing call reluctance
- The fall back position so as not to burn prospects
- Keeping records, analysis and planning
- Select the components of your cold calling telephone program from the above checklist.
- Build the program yourself or get a professional to build a custom made program for requirements.
- Refine it ready for use.
- Train all you people how to use it.
- Analyse the results every week/month
This article is reprinted with permission from Jim Prigg CEO and founder of Knowledgemaster Pty Ltd. Knowledgemaster is an online resources company that delivers practical communications, interaction, sales and soft skills tips, tactics, techniques. Learn more about winning business programs and courses by contacting Jim.
Contact Jim Prigg to learn more about winning business programs and courses.