This is a great article by Todd Stone at deBanked. In it, he describes trying his hand at his very first cold call.
Todd is very good at what he does, journalism, which has many overlaps with sales. He demonstrates great effort on this first call, and makes it very clear in the article that this was an amateur attempt. There is no doubt that with more practice he can become a Funding Pro.
We’re going to hone in on a few points of the call and highlight and optimize them for the benefit of everyone.
Point 1: “And from my understanding, a sales call should sound urgent, without being too aggressive either. I knew I had to strike the right balance”
Highlight: Todd is dead on here. A cold call must be urgent but not too aggressive, but what does this really mean?
A healthy cold call urgency is efficient with wording and time, and directs the conversation from the outset. There is a high rejection rate with cold calls, so focusing your time on contacts on that list that are truly Prospects (and can be converted into deals funded) is paramount.
Your Primary Outcome here is to immediately determine that this merchant is worth your time; they have to be answering your questions and you have to be on the offense, skillfully uncovering what you need to know to decide whether they are qualified now, qualified later or just not qualified.
Your Secondary Outcome is to maximize time by avoiding getting thrown on your heels, answering too many of the lead’s questions and playing defense on the call without getting your questions answered. This will waste time, the most precious currency in sales.
Merchants are pressed for time every day for the most part. “Get to the point.” says the voice in every merchant’s head, especially when receiving unsolicited calls. They will appreciate you being direct and concise. If they are qualified and you can add value to them, you’re in.
Point 2: “And I also thought that using my first name might be more familiar and less intimidating than my full name. So I decided to use my first name. Note that when introducing myself on the phone at deBanked, I always use my full name…”
Optimization: This notion is totally understandable and has a noble intention. Todd wants to seem more familiar on the phone, so as to build rapport more effectively with merchants. After all, intimidating anyone isn’t the greatest way to get anyone to be your customer.
There are many that in the spirit of familiarity also use the first name exclusively.
There is another approach.
Just like when Todd calls on behalf deBanked, using his first and last name with a merchant in a firm but respectful tone will produce superior results.
Remember working with your realtor?
There is a swagger there. An ownership of what they bring to the table to get a deal done and get all parties to win.
How did they present themselves to you?
Now, if you are in line at a McDonald’s and you look over at the cashier, you’ll see only his first name printed on his nametag.
Call your local cable TV/internet provider for customer service, and your rep will only give you their first name.
The truth is that without providing your last name, you subconciosly become an interchangeable commodity with a weak value proposition to the person on the other end of the line.
But that’s not true, you are a Funding Pro. You are their Trusted Advisor who can consult them through their business objectives and the funding that will help them meet them.
Use your first and last name firmly.
Point 3: “I picked up the phone and started to dial. “Hello, this is Kathy” a voice beamed from the other end of the phone.”
Optimization: Todd ends up finding that Kathy is not the decision maker on this call after some back and forth. It’s his first call, it happens.
Goal here is to get to the Decision Maker as efficiently as possible.
If the lead on your list has a name, ask for this person from the outset, no matter who picks up. That’s the easy one.
If the lead on your list only has the number but no name, the traditional approach has been:
“Hi, may I please speak to the owner of the business?”
This can get some results when you’re deploying high volumes of dials.
To increase your hit rate you can use a gambit I call the Shot In The Dark Technique.
The Shot In The Dark is you calling and asking for a random name and listening for what comes out the other end, with the intention of obtaining the true name of the Decision Maker.
“No, this is Rachel. Who is calling?”
“Oh, sorry, Rachel. This is first name last name, is Cindy in?”
“There is no Cindy here, you must have the wrong number.”
“Wait, this is ABC Company, isn’t it?”
“Yes, but there is no Cindy here.”
“Sorry I must’ve been mistaken, I’m calling for ABC’s owner.”
“I am the owner.”
No dishonesty here, just using a little creativity to collect intelligence.
The more accurate information you have, the more effective you can be at building rapport, qualifying and taking through the Sales Process.
Todd, I’ve got your back. Hopefully these are some tools that will help with your next 200.
And hopefully this was helpful to everyone else too. What are your thoughts?