12 May Cold Calling and Oliver
Want to find out how to make effective cold calls to reach decision makers and turn your prospects into customers?
The Oliver team has unearthed for you the best tips to :
- Avoid losing the call in the first 15 to 20 seconds,
- Get past the secretaries and reach the decision makers,
- Start a call in such a way that your caller sticks to your words!
- How to avoid losing the call in the first 15 to 20 seconds!
- How to work with and around screeners so you can reach decision makers without fighting!
The goal of this exercise is to learn how to get around call screeners by working on a creative opening script that your prospects and their receptionists or assistants have never heard in their lives in order to not get you off the line within the first 10 seconds.
To keep track of the quality of your calls, record them, and then critique them. Your goal should be to be different than other callers. And if you want to be in the top 5%, you have to be more interesting, more creative, more credible, more trustworthy and more entertaining than the other 95%.
To achieve this goal, you will have to use words that you don’t know or don’t usually use and this might be a big challenge for some people, because we all have our comfort zones and some people are usually reluctant to try something new. So I urge you to keep an open mind and please don’t be quick to discriminate this or that exercise without being willing to practice it and repeat it 16 to 21 times before using it.
How to work with and around controllers in a way that reaches the decision makers without fighting!
The case where you can’t get the name of the decision maker you need to talk to.
If this is the case, the best shortcut when a screener answers your call would be to ask for a department rather than asking to speak to the person who makes the decision on such products or services. For example, you can ask to speak to the sales or accounting department. Simply say “Accounting please”. The shorter your request, the more likely you are to be transferred without having to explain yourself to the receptionist.
Now that you’re in communication with someone in that department, just ask for the name of the decision maker and possibly, investigate a little to see if your product or service would interest the decision maker and why if so. This works especially well with the sales department because salespeople are people who like to talk.
So let’s say you found out that the decision maker’s name is John Customer by talking to Peter The Salesman, thank Peter and finish by asking him to transfer you to the receptionist, or hang up and call again.
Now you can ask the receptionist to talk to John Customer. Ex: John Customer please and when she asks you who is calling, simply answer that it is Mr. Peter The Salesman sales department who asked me to contact Mr. John Customer.
The right way to start a call so that the person on the other end of the line sticks to your every word!
As I said before, the shorter your speech, the more likely it is to succeed. Here is another example of a speech to give to a receptionist when you know the name of the decision maker:
“Hello, Erik Villeneuve for Jean Client please. Thank you! “
This 10-word request IS the most effective one I know of. In fact, just adding thank you at the end, converts your request into an order. And because you named yourself up front, the receptionist won’t ask, “Who’s calling please? “Which will necessarily lead to the question, “And what is this about? “. Moreover, this formula is tinged with authority and the receptionist will imagine that you know John Doe well and that he is expecting your call.
Example of a cold call:
Receptionist:” ABC Company hello…”
Me:” Who am I talking to please? “
Receptionist:” I am Marie Marie, receptionist at ABC “.
Me:” My name is Erik Villeneuve from PWM company and I need a favor… “
Receptionist:” Okay. How can I help you? “
Me:” We’re upgrading our records and I need the correct spelling of the VP of Marketing (rather than asking for the name of the decision maker). “
If you manage to get his or her name, hang up and call back an hour later using the formula mentioned above.
The unavailable decision maker
If there is only one thing you will remember from this article, it is this: NEVER leave a message if the decision maker is not available!
Why not? Because it’s a waste of time and they probably won’t call you back since they don’t even know who you are or the purpose of your call. Unless, of course, he is a salesperson himself, in which case he will be so disappointed when he realizes that your call was not a sales opportunity, but a solicitation call, that you will be in a negative situation.
Solutions and tips
So, instead of leaving a message when the operator tells you the decision maker is not available, always try to find the best possible time to reach them. You could respond with something like, John tried to return my call, but since I am still on the phone, we are playing tag. It would be much more convenient for us if I knew the best possible time to call him back later today.
Now, if the operator can’t or won’t give you a callback time, you should be prepared with a series of questions that you could ask the following:
- Would you suggest early morning or late afternoon?
- What is her last appointment today?
- Or when is his first appointment tomorrow?
- Do you know if he has a break between appointments today?
In short, you should have 10, 15, and 20 of these questions prepared ahead of time so you can keep layering them on until she gets it
Again, remember that these receptionists are very busy and if they see that you are not about to give up easily many of them will give you the information you are looking for just to get rid of you.
The negative question
When the above layered questions have failed, you can use an exceptionally beautiful trick I call: The Negative Question. So instead of asking your prospect’s assistant the best time to call back, ask her what time NOT to call back or the worst time to call back.
Here’s an example: “I understand, but then tell me. Are there times when you should NOT try to call him? “
If she answers something like, “Absolutely! In fact, you shouldn’t call him between 9:00 and 9:30 in the morning because he’s still in a sales meeting. ” In short, you just learned what time you should call him, i.e. 9:40 a.m.
Indeed, because although she thought she was telling you when you couldn’t call, in reality she told you that you could probably reach him around 8:45 or 9:40 in the morning because they are either; just getting ready or finishing up their daily sales meeting. Now as a side note, if the receptionist, assistant or filter (as I call them in this article) is really difficult and uncooperative by several times, I simply ask, “What time are you leaving for dinner? “ Why do I ask this question? Because I’ll call back when he (the filterer) leaves for dinner, I’ll call back to address his replacement who is probably not as well trained as this head filterer and you’ll have much more success when they’re gone to dinner. If that fails, don’t be afraid to talk to someone else in the department.
Note that the filter person might be located on the second floor. This excuses the fact that he or she may not be aware of the decision maker’s schedule. If this is the case, ask to be transferred to someone who knows the decision maker’s schedule.
Why you should avoid leaving voicemails at all costs!
As mentioned above, as much as possible, never leave voicemails. Why not? Simply because they are a huge waste of time, a waste of energy and a source of frustration for you, because when you do, you put the ball in your prospect’s hands and clearly, you are no longer in control of the situation.
But if there’s no other option but to leave a voicemail, I urge you to be creative if you want to maintain any control.
Here’s an example of a creative voicemail: “Hello, this is Erik Villeneuve. My number is 514-900-3700. Please call me at your first availability. I have critical information about…” At this point in your voicemail message, hang up. Literally, hang up at that exact moment. Right in the middle of the sentence. As crazy as it sounds, you will get a high percentage of callbacks. In short, people will call you back to find out what the rest of the message was about. Again, don’t doubt the power of this trick until you’ve practiced it repeatedly and mastered it to perfection. Once you’ve tried it, you’ll see that it really works.
Precise reminder time
The other thing you could do is give them a specific time to call you.
Example: “Hi, this is Erik Villeneuve, it seems that you and I don’t have a lot of time to discuss critical information about your competitors. If you could please call me today between 2:45 and 2:50 or tomorrow between 10:10 and 10:15 only it would be greatly appreciated. My number is 514 900-3700. I can share this critical information with you in less than 90 seconds.
The key words here are:
- That this is news to them and that you are using sensitive words such as time and that it is critical.
- That it is something about their competitors that they may not be aware of.
- That you have also dictated specific times to remind yourself, which creates a perception that you are extremely busy and important.
- That you also mentioned that the callback will only require 90 seconds so they don’t have to be afraid of a prolonged call.
- That being said, you still need to have a critical news to announce and you will have to be, again, creative in this regard.
In our case at Astuel, I might announce a news item such as, “Hello Mr. Prospect. So this is the new review I was referring to. A close competitor of yours, whose name I naturally cannot disclose, is about to launch a telemarketing campaign to contact their competitors’ star salespeople, to entice them to come work for them. ” End of 90 seconds.
Rest assured that it is now Mr. Prospect who wants to extend the conversation, and I will take this opportunity to tell him that he could do the same through our services and to set up an appointment. Which, after all, was the purpose of my call.
Again, remember that your goal should always be different from others.
A good structure for a cold call is:
- Introduce yourself and your company;
- Tell them why you are calling.
The busy executive
Executives are very busy people. If they interrupt you and say they are not interested or they are too busy to talk or they are happy with what they have now or you should tell them something that will make them smile. But before I give you an example, know that people are programmed to say no, but curiosity will always win out over programming.
Remember, no one gets up in the morning and says, “Oh I hope a salesman calls me today to sell me a widget. “
Here’s an example:
Me: “Good morning Mr. Prospect, This is Erik Villeneuve from Astuel Virtual Assistant Agency. I’m calling today to sell you on the benefits of hiring virtual assistants versus traditional assistants. “
Mr. Prospect: “Mr. Villeneuve, thank you for your call, but we are perfectly happy with the way we are operating right now and besides, I really don’t have time for you this morning. “
Me: “Mr. Prospect, if you’re like most busy executives, I know you may be busy dealing with situations as big as if there were alligators in the company yard and someone forgot to drain the swamp, right? “
Please note that when I say this stuff, I have a smile on my face and in my voice because I want it to be entertaining and not boring. The way you deliver this message is very important. That’s why you need to practice it often.
Now that you’ve made people smile, and so you’ve just gotten a yes to your opening question, take the opportunity to keep the momentum going.
Me: “Mr. Prospect, I know how valuable your time is, so I promise to be super quick.
Mr. Prospect: “You have two minutes, Mr. Villeneuve. “
Me: “Mr. Prospect, the advantages of hiring virtual assistants versus traditional assistants are numerous. But to name only two; saving money and increasing productivity. If I may, I would like to add that when you hire one of our virtual assistants, you are not hiring an assistant, but a team of experienced assistants. You don’t have to hire them (and you know how heavy hiring can be on your management resources) and train them, so there is no loss of productivity. And so on. In short Mr. Prospect, would you be available this Wednesday at 2:00 pm or Friday at 10:00 am for a meeting at your offices? “
Mr. Prospect: “Okay for Friday at 10:00 a.m., Mr. Villeneuve. Villeneuve. Send me the calendar invitation. “
Me: “Thank you Mr. Prospect. My virtual assistant will take care of the calendar invitation and see you on Friday at 10:00.
End of conversation. I say conversation, because my first goal on a cold call is to turn a cold call into a conversation.