Firstly, we’ll uncover the types of information that we need to turn a cold call into a hot one and then I’ll share some resources places you can go to pull this information out.
The information you need to uncover depends on what you sell and why someone should do business with you. You are looking for factual data as well as situational information. The FAQ should include statistics such as how many offices, users, locations, employees that the company has, their recent financial results and who your customers are. Whatever you do, don’t skip this step. If you can help your customer better serve their customers they are always going to be willing to talk with you.
59% of buyers find generic sales pitches irritating to listen to and 60% of them also get actively frustrated when cold-callers know little about the company they’re phoning up.
Most people cold calling pick up the phone and they barely know anything about the company they are ringing into. As a matter of fact, Sales Initiative claim not only that 59% of buyers find generic sales pitches irritating to listen to, but that 60% of them also get actively frustrated when cold-callers know little about the company they’re phoning up. It’s one thing to listen to someone with no personality or charisma behind their product, but another thing entirely when they try to win you over even they know sod-all about you. At worst these can be snake-oil salesman of the sleaziest kind, but even if these callers were pitching good products they’re getting off completely on the wrong foot with the very people who they expect to sell to.
Ironically, the organisation behind the Sales School is called Upgraded Media. I get occasionally cold called by ill-informed sales professionals that think that we do media production for TV or radio. Every quick Google search would show that we create content both educational and entertaining for sales professionals, the very people that are spamming me with calls. I mean there’s absolute dunces, and then there’s these guys.
The basic facts are a necessity, but the real game changing information comes from situational intelligence. This is anything specifically about that company, industry, or individual that makes them a good target for you right in this moment in time. For example –
A hospital is being sued because of a faulty medical device from one of your competitors.
A manager has just been promoted to a VP level role.
The company’s CEO just published a blog on the brand’s website explaining where they want to be in five years’ time. This aligns with the service that you offer.
New regulations require a change in administrative documentation and you sell HR software.
Don’t be surprised when you reach out with a hot call to a prospect and they haven’t heard the industry news which is going to have an impact on their organisation.
Don’t be surprised when you reach out with a hot call to a prospect and they haven’t heard the industry news which is going to have an impact on their organisation. This is where we start to frame ourselves as industry thought leaders and people that are well worth getting on the phone with, whether we close the deal or not.
Ideally, we want to be ahead of these trigger events and warn of potential customers that they are coming. Clearly this is not always the case. Trigger events are still very important even if we catch the prospect going through the middle of one. Here are three basic types of trigger event that we should keep our eyes out for –
Shitty experience – If your potential buyer has had a poor experience with an individual, a brand, or a service then you should follow up with them immediately. Even long-term buyer-seller relationships can be soured quickly so always be on the lookout for disgruntled prospects.
Business transition – If a buyer has a transition in people, priorities or their office locations.
Industry awareness – Most of the things that we think are commonplace within industries right now, once were not. For example, Salesforce changed the sales industry by being a cloud-based CRM system versus software that had to be expensively installed and maintained in-house. If you see a sub-segment of your industry starting to enquire about a new product you should be contacting the rest of the space to tell them that they’re missing out.
It is important to understand these circumstances before you reach out to your prospect. This is what separates a hot call from a cold one. This is what separates you from a lazy hack with no foresight and in turn makes you somebody that prospects will enjoy speaking to on the phone. These details can make or break how well you do as a salesperson, and if you’re lucky can help you climb to the top of the business food chain. Yummy.
Finally, in addition to gathering information on the organisation, we need to do the same about the individuals they were we speaking to. I say go deeper here than what you immediately think is necessary. If they have a public Facebook profile I’d be diving into that. If they are a member of the charity I’d be searching the blog mentions the names. Clearly when where on the phone with a prospect we’re not diving into the personal life, but it enables us to say, “hey you sound like an X fan”, or learn about why they might be interested in a certain subject. This immediately leads to a trust rapport, building conversation very quickly versus having to ask awkward questions on a cold call to try and decipher the hobbies and passions the individual that we’re speaking to.
Knowledge will give you power, but character respect
Bruce Lee once said that “knowledge will give you power, but character respect.” If the knowledge you gain about your prospects will help you navigate a conversation towards getting on their best side, then your own spark and personality (or character) will be what can hopefully get them to close the deal! Using information on their social media about their hobbies and interests can give you and the prospect some overlap that will allow you to have a good conversation that goes beyond boring business jargon and sales figures. You’ll be connecting with them as human beings.