‘Cold calling’, essential to boost sales | Sunday Observer

‘Cold calling’, essential to boost sales

Cold calling, one of the most important early-stage elements in the sales process is positioned as a pivotal criterion that places a salesman as an interpreter, advisor, and a problem solver to a prospective customer.

Selling is one of the oldest recorded professions that has witnessed numerous developments throughout human history. Since the introduction of ‘Science of Selling’ in the 1920s by Ford Motor Company, modern selling techniques have been developed and currently recognised as an art as well. Many people engaged in selling professionally, have attempted to create techniques for cold calling or cold canvassing in the sales process.?

Cold calling typically refers to the first unannounced contact made by a salesperson to a prospective customer. In the modern era, cold calling is face to face without an appointment, traditional door-knocking (door-to-door selling), or telephone canvassing.

If viewed as negative or passive, cold calling can be a daunting task; this is a numbers game where you keep canvassing prospects without knowing whether a need exists or that the prospect is financially capable of buying your product or service. This is no different from a junk mail leaflet where you have no idea whether someone might respond.

However, if and when a salesman views positively, cold calling has immense potential, probably more than many other lead generation techniques. By engaging in cold canvassing the salesman supersedes existing suppliers and preempts the competition. Cold selling can also identify and create numerous new business opportunities. This can establish many relationships as the salesman personally is present at the location with the prospect.

Several important techniques are deployed when a salesperson engages in cold calling or canvassing. The salesperson cannot arbitrarily walk into premises and meet a prospect. Before the canvassing starts, the salesman must be prepared and ready to meet any type of customer as the visit is sudden, unplanned, and without an appointment.Self-preparation for the event with knowledge about the product that is on sale, the company you represent and the environment likely to be faced, should be understood.?

Riskiest part

Like in any sales situation, you must be thorough with the introduction that is suitable for your sudden appearance at the prospect’s doorstep. The ‘approach stage’ of the selling process in a pre-arranged sales meeting is different from a cold call. In such situations, the salesperson can be ready with research on the prospect of an appointment that was made before the visit. ? Hence the salesman must be ready with effective key phrases and be ready with his purpose and positioning.? Approaching the prospect is probably the most important, yet the riskiest part of the process. In many instances, when I engaged in cold canvassing in the early days of my selling career, I was rejected by prospects many times. Therefore, the salesman must be prepared mentally to tolerate and gracefully take on the rejection. However, chances of rejection will be minimal if the salesman has confidence, and if you know that you are well prepared for the situation.??

The salesperson must be very clear and brief about the organisation he represents and the exact purpose of the unannounced call. Simultaneously, the salesman must have a powerful strategic basis to request a dialogue. This must be very brief as you do not know whether the prospect has time for a discussion.? Many salespeople fail at this stage when they antagonise the prospect by trying to be hasty.

The best is to ask if he has adequate time for a chat. If the salesman is powerful in his approach, there is a likelihood that the prospect will accept your request. If and when the prospect offers you the privilege of a conversation, you can offer specific details.??

In a cold canvassing situation, the salesman visits a prospective customer who is not aware of your presence until you greet him. Therefore, after the initial approach, the salesman should act as an advisor or a helper. Not as a pitcher who tries to grab whatever opportunity available to him.? He must centre the conversation on the prospect and not on the product or service. As you cannot guess the end, it is good to focus on the beginning and keep your mindset and behaviour checked during the whole conversation. If you try to push forward too strong, the prospect will see the salesman as a common roadside vendor.? A prospect will respect and accept a pressure-free atmosphere and a sensible tone with reciprocal respect.? If you try to bulldoze, you will become a typical salesman and not a problem solver or an advisor.

You must always remember, even today, many customers look at salespeople with a little distrust. Therefore, the salesperson’s dignified behaviour is important.?It is good to genuinely connect with the customer rather than working on a set agenda. This behaviour can build trust in the prospect. You have to discuss the prospects issues and not yours or your employers. Creating initial trust must be a salesman’s primary goal and not making a sale at any cost. Genuine understanding and trust is the essence of building a relationship. An important fact to remember is that relationships can turn into sales.Getting past the gatekeepers is one of the biggest problems in cold calling. The role of the gatekeeper in business is to keep unwanted traffic away from the boss. Invariably, you will find someone at the entry point who most of the time tries to dismiss cold callers. This may be in person or a telephone call.

A skilled salesman uses his charisma and creates a friendly and polite environment.

If the salesperson does not sound like a typical salesman and implies that he is trying to be of service that will be beneficial to the prospect, the chances of getting past are more.????

Defensive response

Cold calling is usually done with small or medium level business establishments. Sales calls for larger organisations are done generally with prior appointments. Hence, when you confront an entrepreneur in a medium or small business organisation, staying positive and displaying confidence is a vital factor.

Cold calls also often receive a defensive response from the prospect as they are caught off-guard. Therefore, establishing interest with a pre-arranged approach speech is important. Making them understand that your visit is mainly informative and that you are actually ‘not’ trying to sell today is a good method.?

In cold calling, being sincere and authentic is a must. The salesman must make sure that his sudden visit to a prospect is not intrusion. The salesman must also embrace rejection with grace which undoubtedly will please the prospect.

However, a smart salesperson uses this brief opportunity to make a follow-up call at the prospect’s convenience.

If the salesperson has handled the prospect in a friendly manner, he will offer another appointment. Another fact is that reaching out to the prospect after business hours or soon after lunch hour is better than calling during busy business hours.???

The bottom line is that cold calling can be hard, yet often a necessity in any type of business, if they need to increase the pipeline that in turn boosts growth.

Although the method seems tough to a new salesman, more experienced and skilled ones realise that cold calling and canvassing is a highly effective way of increasing sales volume. When the salesman gets used to practising this compulsory method constantly, the act becomes easy and enjoyable.?