For the average sales team, cold calling is often the first and the most critical step to creating sales opportunities. Cold calls differ significantly from those leads that drop in your lap, and we’ll get to that. The ultimate goal is making that first contact with someone that fits your ideal customer profile. In that call, you briefly introduce your product or solution, while you determine the level of interest to move forward.
1- Understand the different kinds of leads
Leads come from many different directions, and as sales professionals, it helps to adjust our approach by each type of lead we address.
These are calls “out of the blue.” The recipients have shown no known interest yet, but they meet a specified demographic, either by location, business type, or common interest that qualifies them as a “possible” lead.
These leads are a little more inviting to the sales professional because this person has shown an actual interest already in the product or service. You can make this determination because they were referred and vetted already before their contact information came your way. Other indicators might be that they signed up for a newsletter or are following you on social media.
These types of prospects have shown some degree of interest in learning more and hold a higher value than cold leads, which are often as random as they get (or were purchased).
Qualified leads are just what we are looking for and vetting. These are the people who are the closest to buying when you look at the sales funnel or cycle. Perhaps this prospect looked up your company by searching for specific products or resources that your company provides. Those are easy because you only need to focus on why your company surpasses all of the competition. Qualifying a prospect in a cold call is all about gathering knowledge quickly about the prospects’ desire or situation. A gifted talker is what it takes to accomplish this. Here are some techniques to get those tight-lipped prospects talking.
2-Preparation is the key to success
The common misconception is that a deal is won or lost when the prospect is on the phone. There is much that can happen before the phone call to start the qualification process and have a meaningful first conversation.
Prospect before you prospect
Of course, this depends on what kinds of goods and services you represent, but when it comes to the big fish, some reconnaissance work can prove to be very valuable to get a look into your prospect’s life and interests before your conversation. With these steps, you will be 99% MORE PREPARED than the competition and also disqualify some before you even pick up your phone.
3- Peer into profiles
Check out your prospect and their company on LinkedIn as a way to passively introduce them to yourself without making a connection. Spend a few minutes collecting some relevant notes to use as discussion points during that call. Don’t connect with them prior to any conversations, though. That is possibly perceived as creepy or invasive. The alternative to that suggestion is if you have another contact that shares a connection and is willing to make an introduction or referral. Besides, leveraging your network is why you have it in the first place!
Do the same by following them on Twitter, Facebook, or any other social media. If they post or share something interesting, it’s okay to respond by liking, sharing, or commenting. These little details help to generate a light level of conversation before you even get to the phone.
Another way to keep up with your prospect company is to set up a Google Alert to keep you up with a daily digest of news relevant to that company. Your extensive knowledge of their company and industry will not go unnoticed.
4 -Use a script
Don’t fool yourself. As a sales professional, never underestimate the value of a good script. Good scripting in sales doesn’t just happen on the phone prospecting. The top sales professionals closing deals are doing so with a memorized script to help them remember all of the essential details. Scripting is present throughout the entire sales process.
You can get started with something as simple as a basic fill-in-the-blank script. This helps with those sudden mental blocks that the ill-prepared callers find themselves in where they feel overwhelmed with details or don’t know what to say. A great script thinks of all the most common directions that the call can take and how to master through each scenario.
So stop with the excuses. Find your script or start writing one out right now before your next call. It’s perfectly acceptable to tweak your script over time as you learn about what resonates with your prospects or not.
The best cold calling scripts include:
- How your service solves a problem (their problem) within their business or the industry
- All of the benefits of your product
- How your company excels against the competition
- Common rebuttals and how to counter them
The goal behind your script is to have prepared speaking points. It should never be a list of text that you will read verbatim (and sound horrible doing it). Sounding too pre-recorded is no way to convert a prospect – ever. Your script ensures that you don’t forget a valuable detail and leave it out of your conversation. It also prevents you from rambling needlessly.
5-How to qualify a prospect – popular qualifying methods
Turning a cold called prospect into a qualified prospect is validating that you have the right person at the right time with the right solution for them. Here are a couple of common techniques in practice when it comes to validating your prospects as qualified:
BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, Timeline)
This is an old IBM sales acronym from long ago and probably the oldest method of qualifying on a cold call. This doesn’t take into account any lead nurturing that a marketing team may be doing ahead of the sales team, but it’s points are still spot-on.
The argument that occurs around BANT is that of the order of validation. With BANT, you first determine if the person or company can afford your product (budget), and then whether or not the contact you have is the one who makes the decision (authority). Once you have those two down you inquire about the company’s needs and finally what a sales timeline will look like. If you are scratching your head about this order, you’re not the only one. IBM did have great success, but more methods came, too.
CHAMP (Challenges, Authority, Money, Prioritization)
Here is the perfect example of a BANT remix. Champ is actually NABT, following the same principles of IBM, but in a different order of prioritization.
The first qualification in CHAMP is to learn of your prospects pain points first. Think about it. If your product is superior and solves a real problem, a company can negotiate within their budget for something they need. In addition to that, if the contact is not the one to make the decision, the sales team doesn’t drop them as a prospect. A groomed relationship can foster introductions to the right person and conversations may continue.
These are only two of many different approaches to qualifying a prospect. Take the most important prospecting points and write the qualifying questions into your script.
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