The #1 most common rookie salesperson mistake is trying to sell their product and close the prospect in a single cold call. When you pick up the phone and start cold calling, or walk into a neighborhood and start knocking on doors, the goal should almost always be to get an appointment with the decision maker. Once you're at the actual appointment, you can start pitching the product... but in your first contact the only thing you should be pitching is an appointment.
Time Required: 5-15 minutes
- Do Your Research: The more information you have about the person you're calling, the more likely you are to close them on an appointment. Sometimes all you have to go on is a name and phone number. In that case, remember that Google is your friend. Social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn can also be great resources.
- Craft an Opener: Once your prospect answers the phone, you've got about 10-20 seconds to catch their interest. Most people go into automatic rejection mode as soon as they realize you're trying to sell them something. If you can create an opener that surprises or intrigues them enough, you can break through that rejection filter and really get their attention.
- Pick a Benefit: This is where your research really pays off. The more information you have about the prospect, the better you can match your pitch to their needs. Pick whatever benefit you think will most interest your prospect and give a one or two sentence explanation of how your product provides that benefit. For example, if you have a list of leads who've suffered from identity theft, you might say, “Our bill management system gives you peace of mind. It protects you by securely managing your financial information and keeps you safe from identity theft.”
- Assume the Appointment: Here's where you close them on the appointment. There are varying schools of thought on how to close a cold call. Some experts say to give a choice of times: “Do you prefer to meet on Tuesday at 10 or Wednesday at 2?” Others say to pick one specific time: “I can meet with you Monday at 11:30. Does that work for you?” Experiment and see which works best for you.
- Don't Give Up: Many prospects will refuse to meet with you. Don't take this attitude to heart, as it could have nothing to do with you (for all you know, that person may just be having a really bad day or may be in a hurry to get to an important meeting). Move the prospect's name to another list and try them again in a few days or weeks, using a different approach. Most sales experts say that you should keep trying until the prospect says “no” three times.