Cool apps be damned—most sales are closed the old-fashioned way: via cold calling. And yet, chances are, you’re making the same cold-calling mistakes again—and again. It’s not the customer’s fault. It’s not the product. It’s you.
In fact, there’s a good chance you’ve been successful in spite of your current practices, not because of them. Sales coach and trainer DJ “Coach” Carroll, author of Phenomenal Phone Calls: The Gritty Guide to Closing Big Money Deals Over the Phone, says that you can catapult your sales when you quit your cold-calling mistakes. You can even change your whole business.
7 terrible cold-calling mistakes
- Trying to “warm up” cold calls with more research. The 10 minutes you take to “research” your prospect is 10 minutes you should be spending on a call, says Carroll. You could be connecting with one if not several prospects in that time. You’re stalling. You already know what you know. Ditch the cold-calling mistakes. Pick up the phone.
- A weak-ass intro. “Hi this is Bob from ABC Supply, How are you today? Is the business owner available?” No, he’s not. And he never, ever will be. Click. The cold-calling mistake here is that you’re worried about being too nice, says Carroll. Instead, start the call in control. Tell, don’t ask. Tell them to patch you through to Rick, don’t ask them if Mr. Smith is available. Tell them your name is Jim, not Jim Johnson from the sales department at ABC Supply. Be in command!
- You sound small. You can’t afford to be timid. And that doesn’t mean just how you feel, but how you sound. Your voice is all you’ve got over the phone, so it’s got to sound powerful, strong, confident, commanding respect while it encourages conversation. It takes practice, says Carroll, to get over this cold-calling mistake.
- Lack of engagement. Never go more than 30 seconds without engaging the client or prospect. This cold-calling mistake is what Carroll calls a “shot clock violation,” like in basketball. When he watches clients make phone calls in person, he props his phone up and use a stopwatch app to time them. After 30 seconds, he make the sales person ask a probing question (sound good?, fair enough?, any questions?). These work well to get the prospect talking and engaged.
- You’re not listening. You may think you are, but most people don’t, says Carroll. A prospect will ask a question, like “does it come with xyz feature?” and the salesperson will barrell right through it, onto the point he thinks is important. Talking over a prospect is about the worst of all cold-calling mistakes! He or she wants to be heard, above all, and when you disregard or minimize their concern by talking over them, you should go straight to sales jail.
- You’re pitching instead of discussing. OK, you’ve got a prospect on the phone and he’s interested. What next? “Rookies slip right into pitch mode—and it’s a big cold-calling mistake,” Carroll says. “What this sounds like is that you’re only interested in your product and what you have to say—when it’s the opposite.” Be more interested in the customer and his needs, and you’ll be in a better position to suggest the solution.
- You hit the brakes after a bad cold call—or a good one. Celebrations are for the end of the month when you take the big deposit to the bank. Any earlier? That’s a cold-calling mistake. The saying is, “Laughing all the way to the bank, not all the way to the water cooler.”
What are you waiting for? Pick up the phone. The worst thing you can hear? No. And no one’s died of a “no” yet.
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