After years of recession most people are not in the mood to be ‘sold’. Whether it is ‘chuggers’ (charity muggers) posted at every tube station and high street or the endless cold calls that seem to have nothing relevant to offer we are sick of being chased after for the marginally fewer dollars that we do have to spend.
So what is a business or charity with a worthwhile message to do?
Networking seems to provide modest and diminishing returns and the promise of social media seems to be a mystery to most of us looking to sell our products or services. Intelligent cold calling has been the staple of business since the beginning of time – is cold calling really dead?
No, Cold Calling is not dead but in order for cold calling to work it must reflect our times. The reality is that business people have always reach out to each other to propose new ventures, partnerships and to promote opportunities.
Cold Calling is NOT dead and NOT sordid but essential!
The world used to appreciate a smooth, well-crafted pitch but people don’t want to hear that anymore.
Why? It is not authentic and today we want real!
Look at movies, television and novels – long gone are the Lucy Ball style comedies. We don’t want or appreciate the clever set-up and punch line of the classic comedian. Today we want real – this is why reality television shows are all the rage.
Selling is no different. We don’t want to be ‘sold’ we want to be captivated and then decide to buy on our own. Elevator pitches and cold calls scream insincerity and are a huge turn off. Businesses use them because they have always used them and most businesses seem to think that what worked twenty-five years ago will still work – but it does not!
Personally, when I hear someone at a networking group stand up and introduce himself or herself as the ‘lawyer who speaks your language’ or ‘the Marmite accountant’ I want to vomit. These lines are insulting at worst and silly at best and have no place in serious business. I want someone to be real with me! To be honest and tell me what value they actually can deliver to my business – don’t waste my time
People wonder why they hate cold calling and suck at it?
It is because they are insincere, full of crap and know they are actually wasting people’s time – nobody really wants to do that!
The answer is so simple that people just can’t seem to see it. People keep looking for the newest ‘line’ or ‘gimmick’ to push on people but the answer is simply – to be real.
Imagine that you have found yourself in a part of a busy city that you don’t know well. It is raining cats and dogs and you are planning to meet a friend at a restaurant in the area, unfortunately you forgot to write down the address and the battery on your smart phone has died. What would you do? Of course you would approach someone and ask for help. Now as it is pouring with rain not everyone wants to be bothered to stop and listen to your problem but with a smile and politeness you quickly find a friendly stranger who is willing to help.
That is the answer to cold calling and to getting past any gatekeeper.
- Be polite, friendly, honest and sincerely ask for help
- Explain who you are, why you are calling and why it is important to them
- Present your reasons in terms of their values NOT yours
- Explain what you want and then ask for what you want
- Be engaging not pushy
- Have an expectation of success
If you have done your basic homework you have called a business that could benefit from what you have to offer and presented it in terms that are meaningful (to them not you)
Sure, you’re going to get some people who are rude and will not even listen to you but if you are ‘real’ (real, real not fake real) you will make connections and people will give you thirty seconds. If you have prepared then 30 second on the telephone is all you need to schedule an in-person meeting or to get the person to commit to 5 to 10 minutes more on the telephone.
Try starting with ‘I Hope you might be able to help me’ and then explain honestly who you are and why you are calling. If you are sincere, focused and engaging then a significant proportion of the people you call will listen to you and if you are sincerely offering value then you will get results.
Start by putting yourself in the shoes of the gatekeeper, buyer or decision maker and ask yourself what would you would want to hear from someone who had a valuable offer. Be humble and ask for help, be sincere and real.
I do this 100 times a week and my close rate (moving the relationship to the next level) is over 50%.
It works – try it!