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CONTRARY TO POPULAR BELIEF COLD CALLING DOES WORK! 2The Art & Science of Appointment Making The Science - Volume Two of Two
By BARRY D. CAPONI
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2011 Barry D. Caponi
All right reserved.
Chapter OneGENERAL TOPICS
General topics include subjects that are important to understanding the challenge of appointment-setting in general, but not quite pure art or science.
For instance, we cover the importance of appointment-setting, whether it is really necessary, the top ten mistakes that sales professionals make when attempting to set appointments, why the skills, tools, and processes that work in pipeline selling don't work in appointment-setting, etc.
It is a good primer to understanding how we view the challenge of appointment-setting. It is also a great primer to help you understand why your teams struggle at this step in the selling process.
THE NEED FOR PERSONAL IMPROVEMENT.
Sharpening the saw. Are you a member of the 4-4-4 Club for this year yet?
In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey addresses renewal and self-improvement in the last chapter. He calls it sharpening the saw.
The term 4-4-4 Club is not Covey's, but it still hits the mark. Each of the three numbers relates to setting annual goals for sharpening the saw.
Read 4 books each year Listen to 4 CDs each year Attend 4 seminars each year
Lastly, we should be investing 3 percent of our annual income back into ourselves.
Congratulations on making the effort to read this book. Did you know that less than 10 percent of all sales professionals will do anything this year to improve themselves? How are you and your team stacking up on the remaining suggestions?
We hope that our websites—www.coldcalling101.com, www. caponipg.com, and www.contactscience.com—will help fulfill your requirements in the area of sales improvement! As I mentioned in the Introduction, sign up to follow me on Twitter/ColdCalling101 to be notified about each week's blog topic. It will help you quickly determine whether the topic is something that is of interest to you.
IS COLD CALLING REALLY NECESSARY?
Very few of us like to cold call, so how do we figure out whether we need to cold call at all?
It's really a pretty simple process as there are basically only three sources for an Initial Appointment with a target. They are:
1. Lead-generation marketing campaigns that get people to raise their hands and tell us they are interested 2. Networking and referrals 3. Cold calling
To figure out whether we need to cold call (and how much if we do), follow this formula:
1. How many Initial Appointments do I need in a year to hit my sales goal? (You can use our Sales Activity and ROI Calculator that you can find on our website www. caponipg.com or send me an e-mail at book@caponipg. com.) 2. From that number, subtract the following: a. The number of Initial Appointments we get from marketing programs b. The number of Initial Appointments we get from networking activities and referrals from customers 3. Whatever gap there is between the number we computed in Step 2, subtracted from the result in Step 1, is the number you'll need to fill with cold calling. There is no other alternative.
Two last caveats:
1. Cold calling works best when we do it on a consistent basis, so we must figure out how many we need on average and do some every day—or at least weekly. 2. Marketing, networking, and referrals can sometimes not generate what we expected—or an economic downturn can cause us to need more. Make sure you're looking at your results each week to see whether you need to open the cold calling spigot to make up the difference. Did I mention that there is no other alternative?
THE NECESSARY SKILLS IN THE PIPELINE PHASE OF SELLING ARE NOT THE SAME AS THOSE REQUIRED IN APPOINTMENT-SETTING.
There are four key differences.
Many sales managers that we talk to operate under the assumption that because their sales team—once in front of a target—can move that target through the pipeline effectively, they are also properly equipped and capable of getting a target into the pipeline. After all, selling is selling, isn't it? The sale—or objective—is just different in the case of trying to set an Initial Appointment, right?
Unfortunately, the answer is no. And this misunderstanding of the differences has created what we like to call the elephant in the sales bullpen. It is apparent to everyone that enough Initial Appointments are not being set, but the root cause is not pursued. Instead, sales managers ignore the elephant and utter the old mantra, "Make more dials!"
This four-part blog explores the four major differences: the Beginning Repartee, the Pace of the Exchange, the Types of Responses heard from the target, and Preparation to Succeed.
1. Beginning Repartee. If our target has agreed to an appointment with us, the opening moments of the call, although perhaps not yet openly friendly, are at least collegial or warm. That happens because our target has already determined to invest time with us so they are open to the conversation and to us. On a cold appointment-making call, the opposite is true. They have not yet agreed that there is value in even talking—let alone meeting with us (even on a referral call). The reasons for that are twofold. The first is that they don't think that they need what we're selling yet, so why would they need to have this conversation? The second reason is that we're interrupting them from doing something—so they don't even want to talk with us. The result is that they'll do anything, including lie to us, to get us off the phone. Hence, the term cold call as the target's behavior towards us is cold. What that means is that the call begins as being adversarial. On the Initial Appointment, the normal conversational skills that we all have developed throughout our life are at play. Not so on the cold call. The skills necessary to counter that initial negative response and get the targets to open their minds for a moment to a conversation about how our value proposition has helped others—and hence potentially them—are not needed or practiced in the pipeline half of the selling process. 2. Pace of the Exchange. When in front of a target in a sales call, the pace of the conversation is generally deliberate, calculated, and measured. When the target asks us a question, we can take a moment to think about the question before answering. It is totally acceptable to do so. As a matter of fact, it can be misconstrued as a sign of disrespect if we don't ever seem to take a moment to think about what is asked and always seem to be quick with what could be taken as a canned response. On an appointment-setting call, the pace is accelerated. Our targets generally answer very quickly by falling back on their favorite Conditioned Knee-Jerk Response (i.e., their typical way of getting sales professionals off the phone quickly). They don't need to think about it—it is a reflex. We must respond just as quickly—or we risk being hung up on or being put on the defensive. The whole conversation is conducted at the speed of a Nolan Ryan fastball. So if we're not practiced at handling the few standard negative responses that we hear consistently, we'll not have near the results that we'd like or need. 3. Types of Responses. Because a target has agreed to meet with us, he or she is willing to hear our story and share his or her own to help determine whether it makes sense to move forward with us. This means that the target's responses to our questions are more apt to be based on logic. On a cold call, the responses we generally hear are more of a knee-jerk response designed to get us off the phone. Many times, those responses are not even true, although they may contain a grain of truth. If you'll think about it, each of us has our own favorite we use when cold called. Applying logic to targets' lies does no good because there is no logic in their response. Therefore, when we call people, we must give them a vehicle to retreat from that opening knee-jerk response in such a way that they save face and open their mind to a short conversation regarding what we've done for others to address a challenge or supply a benefit. We must counter their negative response, using a transition that provides them the ability to save face (a lot of our customers felt the same way) and then ask a question that will open their mind to a short conversation by asking one of our Bridge Questions. (By the way, our counter technique works just as well when the target actually gives us a true response.) 4. Preparation to Succeed. When in front of a target during the pipeline phase of the selling process, our preparation for the meeting should definitely include some planning. However, we cannot plan for all contingencies. That means that much of our success is based on our ability to Contrary to Popular Belief Cold Calling Does Work! Vol. II 7 think on our feet since each situation is at least slightly different. On a cold call, there are only a few responses that we'll hear if we deliver the same message each time we approach someone. To accomplish that, we must internalize or memorize our opening approach to limit the responses we'll hear and also internalize or memorize the responses we'll use to counter those. We'll also need to practice them so that they roll off the tongue like normal conversation.
TOP TEN BIGGEST MISTAKES COLD CALLERS MAKE ON THE PHONE.
1. Believe the first negative response that we hear.
There are only two ground rules our targets play by when they receive a cold call and we ignore them at our peril.
When we place a cold call, we must understand that the person we're calling really doesn't think they need to talk to us. As a matter of fact, our surveys show that less than 5 percent of targets in any sales professional's universe of potential customers believe that they are in the market for what we're selling when we call them.
We must also understand that we are interrupting our target from doing something when we call, so they don't want to talk to us.
The result of those two rules is that they will do anything, including lie to us, to get us off the phone. Most cold calling methodologies teach us to counter their statement using a logical argument (or power benefit) to convince them that they should meet with us. But if they're lying to us, why would we think logic would work against a statement that is not true?
I don't know about you, but I don't have enough time to make calls until I find that 1–5 percent that is currently in the market. Since half of them seem to be too busy right then anyway, we must employ a different approach to get them past this knee-jerk reaction (we call them negative responses or conditioned responses) designed to get us off the phone before we can apply any kind of logic to their response.
The most powerful technique of The Formula is called the Bridge Question. This concept is what differentiates us from all other appointment-setting methods. It is used to accomplish any one or more of the following objectives:
1. Most typically, it provides us the ability to bridge from the target's conditioned knee-jerk response (negative response) into an open minded, albeit short, conversation to share what we've done for others (our value proposition); 2. Provides us the ability to expand on our value proposition, which will help reduce no-shows and cancellations; 3. Should they ask us a question (which we must answer), it bridges us back into control of the conversation; and 4. Qualify if desired.
Here then, are the rules (or tests) for the application of Bridge Questions. Each question has a specific purpose:
1. It should get us an answer to help qualify the target and1. get them into a short conversation to build value for the meeting; 2. It must call for a relatively short answer; 3. We must be able to predict and control the answer with, "That's exactly why we need to get together. How is Tuesday at 2:00?"; and 4. Generally, open-ended questions that qualify as how, what, or why questions work best.
Here's an example of one of the best I've seen:
"How many months of home care could your current financial portfolio absorb before it would begin to affect your retirement plans?" This Bridge Question is used by one of our long-time customers, Newman Long Term Care, out of Minneapolis, Minnesota (one of America's leading experts on long term care insurance, by the way). They use it to counter the "I don't need it," negative response that they hear more often than any other. The typical answer is, "I don't know," which is why it is so successful—the sales professional can then respond with passion and belief, the response shown in point number 3, above.
5. Tell the target all about what we can do for them. Remember that they don't think they need what we're selling, so why do we think this approach will work? Instead, we should tell them about the results someone else got from using what we sell. (All of us—okay, maybe just most of us—think that everyone else knows some little secret that we don't that's made them more successful than we are.) There are three steps to defining the message and then a very simple formula to apply it. Write out the best success stories of someone using· our solutions we can think of. Include these five components: a. What were the challenges facing our customer? b. How did we address those challenges? c. What were the results? d. What did the customer tell us were the benefits of those results? e. Can we use any of the names attached to these stories? Again, using those same success stories as a reference point, list: a. What were the features each of those current customers purchased; and b. What were the benefits those customers derived from those features? Combine our answers and rank them in the order that we believe customers buy from us. Apply it as follows: "The reason I was specifically calling you today was that our customers have had a lot of success (insert most powerful approach above) and I'd like to stop by your office and share with you how they were able to accomplish that."
If you'd like to read a more robust article about how to write powerful cold call value propositions, go to our website at www.caponipg.com, find the articles archive and look for the article entitled Three Simple Steps to Create a Powerful Cold Calling Value Proposition.
6. Assume that we can help them do what they are currently doing—better than they are currently doing it. "I can save you money over what you're paying today!" "I can make you more productive and save you time!" Ever had someone call you with a message like these? If it's not in the opening message, a lot of cold callers resort to this approach as we try to talk the person we're calling into meeting with us. When I hear that, I get even more upset at the interruption than I was when I realized that it was a cold call. (Continues...)
Excerpted from CONTRARY TO POPULAR BELIEF COLD CALLING DOES WORK! 2 by BARRY D. CAPONI Copyright © 2011 by Barry D. Caponi. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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