We are continuing our interviews with cold calling and inside sales experts. Today we are talking to Ron LaVine of ColdCallingTraining.com who's been teaching others how to sell over the phone for over 17 years
1. What is the biggest mistake or mistakes people do when they try cold calls?
They make a call to someone without doing any pre-call research and planning about the person, their company and industry.
2. Skype, Viber and others are replacing traditional phones quite rapidly. Are there any important differences to keep in mind when making cold calls via messengers vs regular phones? First, in my opinion most prospects have not adopted Skype or Viber as means of contacting them so a call of this type might be intrusive as well as unexpected. Next, I suggest a call into the prospect's company headquarters as a place to start to doing some intelligence gathering before using Skype or Viber. Finally, if you're using the video capabilities, be sure you're dressed professionally and your background is clear of clutter.
3. A good chunk of cold calls end up in the voicemail. Can you give a few pointers about leaving messages that result in returned phone calls?
Most important is to keep in mind the prospect cares about only two things. What's in it for me and my company. You must address this question up front by relaying specific results (mention of numeric increases or decreases in terms of time, money or resources work best) your specific clients have been able to produce and the corresponding benefits (the specific ability to do something faster/slower, easier/harder, less expensively or better) they received as a result of your solution.
Also, getting a referral from a superior or a superior's office helps get voice mails returned. Mention who you were referred by at the very beginning and the prospect will most likely listen to your message rather than take the chance of upsetting a superior by not doing so. Be sure to tell the truth. If it was the superior, then use their name. If it was the superior's office, then state that instead.
State your phone number at the beginning of the message after your name and company name because that is when people are expecting to write it down. When you leave your phone number, leave it twice in a row and speak slowly. Nobody wants to replay a message over and over again just to catch the phone number.
4. People hate telemarketers. How do you write a script that gets you the results you want without being too pushy and salesy?
First we need to separate business to consumer callers from business to business callers. Due to the number of anti-telemarketing "Do Not Call" consumer laws I do not train B2C telemarketers. Next I believe in training people who use the phone to be very polite and respectful of others.
The first part of the secret to a script that gets results is to concentrate on being very polite and good mannered while speaking. The second part is to concentrate on information gathering by asking questions about how the prospect does business in the area of your solutions, rather than selling or telling someone all about your solutions, what they have done and can do. In essence, a successful script causes the caller to be interested, not interesting.
When it comes to placing the call, I prefer to be referred to someone before calling them. Once I have a referral from their superior, superior's office, a peer or a peer's office, I mention this fact and then confirm they are in fact the decision maker. Right after that, I always ask for permission to speak. A simple nicety that is most often skipped by many telemarketers.
From a business perspective, there may be nothing more valuable than our time. Let people know that you respect their time by asking, "Do you have a moment or two?" before using your researched opening value statement.
Not only is this a more professional strategy, you will find people will offer their full attention since they have given you their permission to speak. Professional salespeople understand and respect the importance of another person's time. There are three possible answers when you ask for permission to speak. Yes, No or Maybe.
1. They may say Yes, then, you can deliver your researched opening value statement followed by the reason for your call.
2. They may say No, then, you can either get off the phone, set an appointment to call them back or confirm they are the right person to speak with.
3. They may say Maybe what is this about, then you can deliver your researched opening value statement along with the reason for your call.
The next time you receive a call from a phone prospector, notice if the person asks for your permission to speak with you. My experience has been that the majority of callers launch right into what they have to say without giving any thought to what I might be doing. It angers me the caller has not considered I might be doing something more important and I respond with "Take me off your list."
You can be seen as an interruption or a blessing depending on how you handle yourself. I called a senior buyer of a well known PC microchip manufacturer who granted permission for me to speak. I asked how they went about buying a certain type of solutions. He took ninety minutes explaining their buying process to me. That information was extremely valuable to the strategy of the sale.
In summary, be polite and respectful and stay out of sales mode and stay in information gathering mode.
5. Can you share your/your client’s biggest cold call success story?
After over 17 years of delivering live cold call training for over 122 technology and non-technology clients, in front of audiences all over the world, there are so many success stories, they would fill books. These are a few examples of the successes or results my clients have produced as a result of my live cold call B2B training:
- Client experienced 20-30% increase in meetings due to this methodology. - A Client's rep set an appointment with the CFO of a Fortune 100 during a training exercise (in front of both peers and management). - A client's rep closed the largest deal of their career. $2.8 million in new license revenue at a major insurance company. - Client added 74 new customers in one quarter. - Client added over $1 million in Canadian Pipeline within one quarter. - Client boosted sales by 19.3% quarterly and increased profit before taxes by 24% for the past fiscal year. - A client's rep closed a $208,000 deal that paid for the entire prospecting program. - Client experienced in increase in appointment volume by over 25% one week after training delivery. - Client increased sales by $64 million in one year.
I have over 55 testimonial letters on letterhead and over 182 LinkedIn recommendations (you can find them here: http://www.LinkedIn.com/in/RonLaVine), many of which, point to different stories or ways clients have used my techniques, ideas and processes to improve their sales results over the phone.