“How are you today?” Ever heard that one before? It’s a sure fire way for a potential prospect to deduce in 2 seconds that this is a cold call. Much loved by offshore Call Centres, it isn’t sadly only the preserve of poor quality, high volume calls. It’s okay if you know someone but it’s a big no-no if you don’t. The prospect knows that you don’t care how they are. So don’t do it.
The start of a cold call is the gateway to the opportunity. If you blow it in your first sentence, it’s rare that the call will progress well and to its objective. You have to grab the prospects’ attention and keep it and the only way to do that is with a strong introduction.
It’s probably necessary to dwell a moment on the purpose for a cold calling intro. Ultimately, it is to progress the call towards your intended outcome whatever that be. Each phase of the call needs to keep the flow going and the conversation moving.
To make your call successful, whilst these are not exhaustive, I believe that there are four principal things that your opening introduction / sentence needs to convey. These are:
- A consultative non-sales approach
Starting a call with ‘I won’t take up much of your time’ or ‘Hi, I’m Jonathan and I’m calling from Acme Furniture and we’re manufacturers and suppliers of office fit out solutions’ doesn’t cut it. Just sit in the prospect’s chair for a moment. They are busy. They are up against deadlines. They have had budget cuts. They are struggling with staff absence. Their job is on the line. They may just be having a bad day. Then in comes your cold call and you trot out a low key, uninspiring, scripted set of words that are sure to bore the pants off the most patient prospect. It certainly isn’t going to win you that £10,000 or £100,000 appointment.
It is said that you have only 15 seconds to make a good impression. I believe that it is probably less than that. That means that your opening gambit must do its job. Let’s look at our four points for a successful telemarketing call introduction in a little more detail.
Do you like talking to boring people? No-one does. Therefore, your initial intro needs to be positive, upbeat and compelling. This starts with the tone you use to the language you employ. A sunny disposition is a precursor for telemarketing success. Equally, there is a world of difference between using the nondescript intro earlier and something that is sincere yet compelling
For example, simply stating that we manufacture and supply office furniture doesn’t stack up to saying:
“We’re doing a huge amount of work and getting amazing results helping similar companies to reduce / improve / lessen / increase …..”
The language you use (assuming it is legitimate) paints a vivid picture for the prospect. So, don’t miss the opportunity to make what you say sound compelling.
The energy in your voice makes the prospect feel that you believe in what you’re saying and they are more likely to engage and respond positively from the beginning. Make sure that motivation comes across from your very first words and make those words come alive. Otherwise, you may send the prospect to sleep and most likely the call will be short!
Particularly for higher value sales, if you come across too junior, the likelihood is that senior decision makers won’t engage with you. That’s also part of rapport below. If you have a young, squeaky high pitched voice, perhaps try to lower your tone and slow down. It’s important to
- believe what you have is worthy and
- believe that you are on the same level as the prospect and not subordinate.
If you’re on the same level, you are more likely to engage. It is very much about peer to peer dialogue especially with senior decision-makers. If they perceive you as low level, it’s likely your product may be perceived in the same way and your chances of cut through may be limited
Rapport is a complex subject, far too long for this short blog. There are many components of rapport and just a short selection is shown below. The key is to work hard from the early part of the call to build rapport. People do not do business with those they do not like and trust.
- Matching pace, volume and tone – People like people like themselves and the more you can sound like them (without sounding like a mimic or parrot) the more you will relate
- Matching language – What kind of words and metaphors are they using? Once again, ensure that you aren’t aping them, but do try to mirror language. If they say they are drowning in work, perhaps say ‘I know how you feel. I often have that drowning feeling’ or ‘I know what drowning in work feels like’
- Relevant industry and product knowledge – You don’t need to be a product geek and know everything. However, to be credible and build rapport, early indication that you know what you’re talking about certainly helps conversation flow and helps ensure that the call lasts beyond the first 15 seconds. What’s key here is knowing the challenges (pains) that the prospect (industry, sector, company) has. Relating to these at the call outset is likely to take you further (see below)
- Listening and responding – Listening is a crucial skill in telemarketing. Ask a good question early on after your intro then listen for the answer and respond with appropriate hmms, ums and ahs and summaries e.g. OK, Bob so If I understand what you said …
A consultative rather than pushy sales approach
Too often, the calls starts with a basic sales product or service pitch as shown above. That screams cold call. It is often much better to start with something more consultative and engaging such as
“Hi Bob, I’m calling from ACME furniture. I wonder if you can help me. I don’t know whether this is relevant for you but, we’re doing a huge amount of work with so and so who have got issues around…..”
The above is far from the whole picture. Through the call, you need to demonstrate the above and more. You need to unearth their problems and find solutions to them. Research before the call on the factors that may be causing the prospect to lose sleep will definitely help. However, when your opening gambit is weak, sadly you will never get the opportunity to demonstrate how wonderful you and your services are or how they can significantly help the prospect do his or her job.
If you’d like to know more or book a new business development strategy workshop and find out how GSA Business Development can help Generate Growth for your Business, by contacting us now on 0845 658 8192 or send us an email.