The other day I was down at the park with my four year old son playing with a rugby ball. “Pass it to me” I said and he threw it in a pretty ugly way. “Here, I’ll teach you how to pass” I said. Then I stopped dead and thought – how do you actually pass a ball? What are the steps here?
Breaking a skill down to core principles and the absolute basics is hard, particularly if you have been doing that skill for a long time and have ingrained the steps. But this is the only way to effectively learn something or improve on the skill – by having it broken down for you and learning and perfecting each step, one at a time. When I was running sales teams in the past, I have just told them to “understand your numbers, know how many calls to make – then go make them”. But I never defined how to do that for them – I never even thought about it. “Pass it to me” I said. So my goal here is to expand on the process for how to make a cold call. I have broken it down to six steps.
STEP 1: Prepare your attitude & mindset
The first step, I believe is the most important. Preparing yourself to start the sales process involves five different factors that unless addressed will stop you in your tracks. They are
Get enough sleep
Put the right fuel into your body
Get your mindset right – be positive and excited to introduce your potential new customer to the massive benefits of your product or service. You are going to make their life so much easier/faster/better!!
Set up habits that ensure you have enough willpower left to follow through with the process
Remember that you will not get a positive result from every call – no one gets 100% success rates – so prepare and know that every no gets you closer to a yes
STEP 2: Define your objective for the call
The objective of a cold call should be to see if there is a fit that makes sense taking it to the next phase. That is it. Don’t make it more complicated that this – don’t think you have to sell something on the spot. Just get an agreement to take it to the next phase.
STEP 3: Do your research
At any sales training you have been to in the past 15 years, you will have heard about the WIIFM thought process. While this is old and cliché – it still holds true. For a cold call even more so, your customer has no idea who you are, what you do, why they should keep talking to you. So make it your business before you call them to understand exactly why it will be of interest and value to them to a). keep talking to you and b). then move with you to the next phase of the sales cycle.
STEP 4: Write your script
While it is important to sound like you are not reading from a script, it is equally important that you have one. A script is a basic guideline about the benefits that you need to mention and the reasons why they would keep talking to you and then set up a meeting with you. Your script must introduce you and your business, it must ask for permission to talk to them, it must give value based and quantifiable reasons to continue the conversation and it must give the benefits to them of your product or service.
STEP 5: Make the call
Now you are ready to make the call. First stand up. You should make all cold calls standing up and preferably in front of a mirror. Next, put a smile on your face and get positive. Remember – every no is one step closer to a yes, so expect that rejection is going to be a part of the process and enjoy it.
STEP 6: Make sure you follow up
This sounds like it would be the most obvious step in any process, yet from my experience it is the step that is most often left out. You have done all the hard work – you have got your potential customer to agree to the next step, so make sure you follow up and follow through!
About the author: Andrew is the founder of Austep, a company that helps business get established in Australia and other markets. He is an entrepreneur, public speaker and facilitator.
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