“I believe luck is preparation meeting opportunity. If you hadn’t been prepared when the opportunity came along, you wouldn’t have been lucky.” ― Oprah Winfrey
I love this quote by Oprah because it puts it so succinctly that even for someone as successful as her there is an element of hard work and preparation rather than “winging it”. Even the small things we take for granted, such as making a call.
Did you know that 92% of all customer interactions happen over the phone? While the data may be from 2015 it still is an astounding figure and even with social media, making a call has never been so accessible and at our fingertips, so don’t expect this number to have disappeared.
But as with all elements of business planning and implementation there’s still an element of frustration. Why does it work for some and not others? Below I’ve outlined some of the key frustrations I hear regarding cold calling that I believe all come down to not preparing with a pre-call plan.
“I always miss important questions!”
How many of us forget what we had for dinner last night? It’s easily done when you consider the human brain receives 105,000 words every day or for the techies amongst you that’s 34Gb of information. That makes remembering questions we want to ask a Herculean task. When anxiety or nerves are factored in it is likely we will forget most of the questions we want to ask. Pre-call planning is a really simple way to overcome this by writing your questions on paper before picking up the phone. Lifehack says remember to ask follow-up questions to answers to get a better insight.
“I don’t have a route to ask for a sale.”
You know you want to get a sale or a follow-up meeting to get closer to the buying stage but you’re not sure how you will get there. Doing pre-call planning puts you in control of the conversation and helps you to achieve your objective. When you work through your pre-call planning template remember to include your objective(s). Narrow it down to the smallest level. Do you want to arrange another call? Would you like to set up a meeting with them? Or perhaps you know they are ready to buy, and you would like to get an order placed? Whatever your objective is think it through before you pick up the phone and write it down somewhere to remind you throughout the call to help you stay on track.
“I get asked questions I wasn’t anticipating.”
How many times have you been asked a question by a young child or infant that you don’t know the answer to e.g. “How does the tooth fairy know where I live?” only to answer with a “I don’t know” or having to quickly make something up, and then suddenly feel out of control in the conversation. Pre-call planning can pre-empt this by giving you the guide to navigate the conversation towards the objectives you have and away from difficult questions. So in preparing write down questions you might be asked and think of all the possible answers. e.g. them “My pain point is (your name), how do I know your product can solve this?” you can lead into “Well, the great thing about my product is that…”
I hope the above helps. If you are already doing everything I mentioned but something still isn’t working the way it should be, check out these tips on how to listen better, including why engagement is like a ping-pong match. Also, check out this great video with a live example of cold calling by Benjamin D. The UK’s Most Hated Sales Trainer® who is a big motivation on this blog. In the video we’ll see his strategy at collecting the information he needs to take the call to the next step while never making the call about him. Simply amazing to watch.
If after reading this you feel ready to take direct action, head over to my website and book onto my upcoming Sales Growth Club Live event happening in Sheffield. With several courses happening throughout 2020 I’m confident there will be one just for you. If you’re not quite ready please take 2 steps today, first head over my free Facebook group and join for more great information from myself and others on the same journey as yourself. Secondly, grab a copy of my latest book “Funnel Vision, Selling Made Easy” and benefit from my vast experience in sales from working at Shell to setting up and running “The Sales Mindset Coach”.