Let’s face it, no one likes making cold calls. And your targets have grown to hate getting them as much as you dislike making them. But, unless you already have every customer in the world, or you have all the customers you ever want to have, your business will never grow without them.
There are a lot of “tricks of the trade” that can make the experience easier for you and more pleasant for everyone involved – and it all boils down to good preparation.
Based on my experience, the techniques below are those that have proven most successful.
Research the target company– There’s no secret here, go on their website; learn everything there is to learn about them including:
- What products or services do they offer? – Make sure you understand what these products and services are. The more sophisticated the firm, the more likely they are going to be using terms you never heard of. Use your favorite search engine to educate yourself about what they do.
- Who is their target market? – Again, if the prospect’s website is comprehensive and well-organized, it will be clearly stated. If not, go back to your search engine and re-look at the specifics of the product or service. Very often it will tell you who uses them – this is their target.
- What has been going on at the company over the last year or two? – Many websites have a section called NEWS or IN THE NEWS. Normally these are files of recent Press Releases. Read several of them. And, for that matter, keyword search some of the topics to see what others in their industry have been doing.
- Who is the correct contact to pitch your product or service? – There are a number of database providers (like ZoomInfo) that will tell you who’s who in each of the company’s various departments. Take a look at things like job titles, responsibilities, etc. to figure out who the right person is there to accept your pitch. And just as backup, go on LinkedIn and see if the person still works there (and for good measure, look at their work history). Sometimes the ZoomInfo’s of the world aren’t up-to-date.
Customize your sales pitch, based on what you learned — Armed with the information gleaned in each of the bullet points above, figure out the best way to approach them. I can tell you with absolute surety, the better you research your key contact and their company the better you’re going to do. Following the same format, here’s how:
- Knowing what products or services they offer and what they do may give you extra ammunition when you email or call them. For example, if the company makes things similar to a former customer of yours, you have an immediate knowledge basis that the prospect will respect. Same thing with knowing what industries they serve. If you and/or your company has a history in one of those industries, you’ve just upped your ante.
- Being knowledgeable about the company’s current events is a huge asset for you. You can customize your sales pitch to address right out of the gate that you have the answers for them, given their current environment
- Finding the correct contact there will, of course, shorten your sales process considerably. And, if you take the time to learn their own employment history you may find other areas of intersection or common interests. I found out once that an executive at a targeted company previously worked at a former client of mine. He said that, while he almost never responds to cold-call emails, he was impressed that I took the time to research his background. We got the account.
It’s time to make contact – Okay, now you’ve learned everything you need to know about the prospect and have customized your sales pitch to maximize the value of that education. Still, it isn’t easy to send out that first email, subsequent emails and the most difficult of all, the follow-up phone call. Here are a few handy tips:
- First email – As soon as a prospect gets an email that’s a solicitation, their first instinct is to trash it. That’s why the subject line needs to grab their attention immediately and motivate them to read on. This shouldn’t be that hard, after all, you already know everything about them and their company, right? Use the example I cited from own experience: the prospect worked at a former client of mine. How about something like: “We both worked with XYZ Corporation at the same time!” Or if it’s something else, then hit them with something from your research that they want to hear. Example: “I can get you back the 20% you lost in sales this year.” That should open a few eyes! Then, in the body of the email, look at your notes, when you customized your sales pitch, and make sure it’s all in there. And, last but certainly not least, give them an irrefutable reason why your company is best qualified to help them where they need it the most.
- Follow-up emails – You very well might not hook them the first time around, but, in your follow-up emails, try to make each one new and different, emphasizing different hot buttons. Stay on top of the company’s news and make your messages as timely as possible.
- The dreaded phone call – If all email attempts have failed to get a response, there’s nothing more to be done but pick up the phone. You’ll have a better-than-even chance of getting voicemail, so write a script for yourself in advance. Make your voice message short and sweet and put some personality into it. Don’t be afraid to get right to the heart of it: “If you want to find out how to increase your sales geometrically, call me.” Or make it funny, personal or whatever it takes for the prospect to like you, respect you and want to call you back. And, of course, if a live body actually answers the phone, you’ve not only got your script, but all that knowledge you gained from research will maximize your potential for maintaining a conversation that is informative and useful. Lastly, talk to the person like a respected associate and a friend. Prove to him or her that you’re professional and sincere. Having a pleasant conversation is as simple as being likeable.
If you have reasonable people skills and take the advice I’ve given you here, you’ll do fine. If not, please disregard this blog and carry on.