Cold Calling9 May, 2001 By: Terrill Klett imageSource
that you are sitting poolside on a sultry summer day. After a while, the heat
becomes unbearable, so you decide to plunge into the cool water. Initially your
body experiences a cool shock, but you soon adjust to the new temperature and
experience true enjoyment.
cold calling is about being uncomfortable (for most of us) and then taking the
“plunge” into your territory. Soon the idea of making these calls is not so
agonizing. It is after you master this that you can replace the “C” in cold
with a “G”—to make the gold!
calling, without a doubt, is one of the most difficult components of your sales
career, but it also must be mastered because it is so important. Your
presentation, preparation, and attitude still play an integral role but some
adjustments will have to be made when technology changes.
few years ago, the philosophy went something like, “Don’t fight gravity, and
start high.” It was common to try to reach the highest in command, and be
directed to the individual responsible for purchasing office equipment. Now, due
to the changes and advancement in technology, the highest in command probably
isn’t aware of the needs and applications warranted. There could be someone in
the communications (telephone) department in charge of Internet and facsimile
purchases. The Information Technology (IT) department may have certain employees
assigned to the management of network connections. The graphics department may
want to evaluate the color quality and scanning capability. Factor into these
the possibility that somewhere in the middle of all of these positions lies a
traditional office manager or purchaser that must be appealed to also.
view this reality in a more positive light, just consider your territory to have
grown! This allows you more chances to find a good prospect with every call.
Every business requires some level of office equipment, which is the beauty of
this industry. On average, the typical copier, fax, or printer is replaced every
four to five years. Even a small office today can have three to five pieces of
equipment which means each year there is a good possibility of at least one
piece being replaced or upgraded. This alone should generate enough motivation
to get your prospecting in high gear. Make the contacts before someone else
beats you to it! The good news is once you’ve sold the initial connected
machine, you’ll be contacted first for those needed in the future.
is definitely the key for cold calling, and this doesn’t mean loading yourself
up with brochures and flyers. Days and times need to be set aside for these
calls, which allows you to prepare yourself mentally. If you don’t schedule
time for this in advance, it will be too easy to find something more comfortable
to accomplish. Because of the rejection factor, it is difficult to schedule an
entire day for calling, so break your calls into time frames and selections.
Make a particular number of calls to new prospects, then some to referrals, and
finally finish with calls to previously contacted businesses.
use of cold calling has a major impact in the yearly financial rewards you are
striving to achieve. Once you set a dollar level, determine how many prospecting
calls will be needed to generate the revenue goal you’ve set. After the first
month on the job, your objective should be about 80 cold calls and 80 telephone
calls per week. Eventually, this will lead to 10-12 appointments that will turn
into 3-4 demonstrations per week. Ultimately, you should be closing 1 –1 ½
deals per week. As you gain more experience, the digital products you
demonstrate and close will be the higher-end products, leading to more
commissions. Once you establish yourself you may find that time for prospecting
calls is diminishing, but beware! Make sure you cold call consistently to keep
yourself “lean and mean.” Many sales reps that tend to shy away from them
after a while start to become “soft” and business drops off a few months
initiating a cold call, your first encounter will most likely be with the
receptionist. When I was first trained in copier sales in 1984, it was taught
that the receptionist (also referred to as the deceptionist) was the enemy and
therefore was trained in strategies to maneuver around them. A few years later,
when the electronic typewriter boom was in full swing, most sales persons
realized that the person residing in this position was actually your friend!
They were very involved in the purchasing decision with at least one of your
many products. Taking this into consideration, make certain that the first few
words are not only warm, but they should also give a benefit statement suitable
for the receptionist.
it simple. After introducing yourself, state “I’d like to be of some help to
your company. Could you help me by first letting me know who I would set up an
appointment with to introduce the benefits of digital technology?” Notice it
was short, polite, and you asked for their help. You were not demanding or
pressuring and you asked to set up an appointment. Each company will be
different and you must be able to read and adapt to their environment. If the
receptionist appears to be busy, be sure to acknowledge this by saying “it
looks like you are very busy, but may I ask of your help for about thirty
seconds?” A more witty comment would be “you are very busy and this is why I
stopped by!” Then, introduce yourself immediately and provide a benefit
statement that will make their office work easier and more efficient.
upon your arrival, you are being screened as to what your product line concerns,
you can keep it vague and state, “network issues, digital printing, computer
faxing and scanning.” After that inquire as to how many people are involved in
these issues, because more than one appointment may be needed. You’ve just
given the receptionist the alternative close and the answer may come out before
he or she forgets initially they were going to screen you. It’s vital to every
call that you listen to their responses or objections and handle them before you
major mistakes can be improved upon overnight. First, talk the language of the
receptionist. You may want to incorporate words similar to “easier, relaxing,
or fun” when giving a benefit statement. Receptionists are not impressed with
words like “more productive, saving money, or return on investment.” Save
language such as this for the “bottom-line” person. Secondly, a red flag is
raised when you introduce yourself only to immediately spout, “Who’s in
charge of purchasing office equipment?” Reaching this person is the ultimate
goal, but the perception of the receptionist is that you are a pushy salesperson
who has no respect for their position. Show interest and courtesy at all times,
and remember that listening is the highest form of courtesy, which is why
we’ve been given two ears and one mouth! If all goes well, don’t be
surprised if the receptionist can set up the appointment for you. Don’t be
afraid to ask if the person is available for a few minutes on the spot—why
save it for a telephone call if you can begin immediately. If you are able to
meet with the prospect at short notice, introduce yourself, show gratitude, and
give your benefit statement. Ask if you can sit down because in my experience,
I’ve found that if your appointment is standing up it will be short and
without a genuine interest.
The Most Of It
calling can wear and tear on you so try to partner up occasionally with an
experienced rep at your office. Just like when you exercise, it’s easier to
stay motivated when someone is with you. In addition, the most effective
prospecting involves your current customers, though this is often overlooked.
Ask satisfied customers if they know of anyone in the market for office
products, or if they have a need for more! Unbelievably, not all of your
customers are loyal and they may not bring their need to your attention unless
you ask. They may not that know you offer computer or Internet faxing because in
the past you had only discussed their copying and printing needs. Don’t forget
to prospect for accessories involving items you’ve sold them in the past.
Normally there isn’t any competition and the sale tends to be more profitable.
swimming pool I mentioned in the beginning—make enough cold calls and it’s
yours! Financial rewards will come if you just make the calls, prepare in
advance and have a true interest in every individual and business you meet up
with. The reality is that when cold calling you will experience individuals who
treat you poorly, but this may be indicative of their low self-esteem or meager
professionalism. Be better than this, because after all, your job is to look for
the “goldness”…not the coldness!