No business in the history of mankind has been able to survive without being able to sell. Nowadays, there are many different types of salespeople taking many different approaches to selling their products. The majority of these product-selling businesses put in place a basic sales funnel or process that they find to be successful with their particular business and industry. These processes are built and perfected over long periods of time with a whole lot of trial and error.
Understanding how to interact with customers is one of the most important things that a salesperson can learn. What better way to learn how to effectively communicate with customers than to cold call? Cold calling has always been a pillar in the sales world, and even with technological advances in emailing systems, customer relationship management (CRM) software, etc., cold calling is still alive! As a matter of fact, according to Brian Williams, a partner and sales trainer at the Brevet Group, 92 percent of customer interactions happen over the phone.
“One of the best salespeople we ever knew was glued to his phone, yet never made a single cold call,” Williams said. “He would spend two to three hours every day making ‘check-up calls’ – calling old professional friends to: 1) maintain relationships; and 2) learn about developments in their companies, which opened up potential new opportunities where he could help. Next time you see a friend change their job title on LinkedIn or hear about an old client in the news, pick up the phone and make that check-up call.”
Most of us know that cold calling is not a simple task. You have to know how to elegantly start a conversation without coming off as a high-pressure salesperson and losing the customer and potential sale immediately. However, just because you enter into a conversation in a pleasant fashion that doesn’t come across as pushy, doesn’t mean that you will make the sale on that first call. You may not even be speaking to the right person or decision maker. In fact, the Brevet Group says that it takes an average of eight cold-call attempts to even reach the prospect. So, persistency is key, as long as it is done the right way.
On the flip side of trying to reach prospects, sometimes they reach out to you. When this happens, always be the first to respond before your competitors. Those customers have come to you as a source for the product they are looking for. If you purposely duck those customers’ calls or don’t return them in a timely fashion, odds are you’ll lose the sale. A study by the Brevet Group shows that 30-50 percent of sales goes to the vendor that responds first. Always remember that you work for the customer, and the customer doesn’t work off of your time. Be attentive and ready to speak about your product at any given time. There is nothing more discouraging than a missed opportunity.
Also in reference to being the “first vendor to respond,” note that there are many other companies that sell the same things that you do. They want the customer just as badly as you may, so don’t just give the customer away. According to another Brevet Group study, 13 percent of all jobs in the United States are full-time sales positions. That means there is stiff competition in the sales world. Granted, a lot of these positions are in various industries; however, most of the time customers will have a choice as to whom they can buy a product from.
As we enter the OPE season, think about what your sales process is like. Are you doing everything you possibly can do to meet the needs of your customers? Are you going above and beyond, doing what your competitors will not do?
Good luck this season!