Magnify the cold call

My degree is in engineering…metallurgy. Metallurgy is fun. You get to use high-powered microscopes to look at metals at very high magnification, frequently for the purposes of failure analysis.

Let’s do some failure analysis on the cold call by putting it under the microscope. It’s probably long overdue. With a failure rate of 95 percent some analysis is probably called for, don’t you think?

But we’ll do our analysis by – to continue our metals metaphor – putting the good sample under the microscope and analyzing why it doesn’t fail.

Sales 101: Nobody likes or trusts salespeople

It’s not that your customers don’t trust you. It’s just that our profession has inherited the worst reputation of, well, virtually all professions.
Salespeople will help themselves a lot by acknowledging this. Because anything they say that might remotely sound like language a salesperson would use will stimulate that instinctive fight or flight response by normal human beings.

This is why “How are you?” is the very worst thing to say when opening a cold phone call. It’s not because you don’t have a right to ask that question of someone you don’t know. Checkout clerks at grocery stores ask you this question almost every time you go. You don’t want to fight or flight from them, right?

You have them or you don’t…from “Hello”

Salespeople always strategize cold call techniques assuming the connection is established between salesperson and prospect. In fact, they give this initial connection no thought at all and just start into what their strategy should be…after the connection is made. That’s like learning how to fly a jet only after it’s at 30,000 feet and ignoring the takeoff and landing.

A successful cold phone call sample with explanations

Let’s magnify and evaluate a successful cold phone call being conducted by Mark Williams, salesperson for an industrial adhesives company based in the San Francisco area. Mark is calling a prospect named Al.

Segment 1

“Hi Al, this is Mark Williams calling from PDQ Adhesives…sort of calling you out of the blue here…could I take a quick second to tell you why I’m calling? (pause for response) Alright, perfect.” Explanation: First, do not change a single word in this part of the script. It has a 90 percent hit rate with keeping prospects on the phone. (by the way, the most common change is “second” to “minute,” big mistake). Second, take a close look at what you have permission to do: explain why you are calling. That’s it.

Segment 2

“Well, by way of very very quick introduction, PDQ is an industrial adhesives company based here in the Bay Area. I’ve spent a little time on your web site and it looks like you folks do a fair amount of litho laminating in a couple of your lines there. First, is that a reasonable conclusion to draw from spending 5 minutes or so on your web site? It is? Ok, perfect.” Explanation: Al needs to know what general category of company is calling him. Biggest mistake here is to add pitchy words like “leading producer of…” and whatnot.

Segment 3

“Litho laminating is sort of a sweet spot for PDQ. So the reason I’m calling is to suggest we get together and explore the fit that I think might exist between our two companies in that particular area.” Explanation: Pay very close attention to the understated, non-salesy words Mark uses: “explore,” “fit,” “think,” “might.” Also, Al must hear the words: “The reason I’m calling…”

Segment 4

“And what I’d like to do is, well, I’m not going to come in and give you the long dog and pony show and tell you about us, I mean I’m happy to give you a quick snapshot of who we are or have any amount of discussion that you like about what we do. But I think what might make the most sense for both of us is to get together for a half hour, 45 minutes and I’d like to kind of better understand you guys a little bit as a business but then also zero in on how you’re currently approaching the various adhesive issues in your litho lines and see how things are currently working for you. And I think from there we can probably together figure out if there might be some semblance of a fit here. So, that’s the reason I am calling, does that make enough sense? Ok, perfect. Do you have your calendar handy?” Explanation: Note that all of the language in this segment is consistent with the non-salesy, non-transactional tone Mark tried to establish earlier in the call. This is vital to keep Al from going fight or flight at any point in the call.

Pay very, very close attention to every single word you use in your cold calls. It is by far the most unforgiving of all sales interactions. Once the prospect sniffs “salesperson” it’s over, and customers have amazing noses!

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