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7 Cold Calling Secrets Even The Sales Gurus Don't Know

Cold calling the old way is a painful struggle. But you can make it a productive and positive experience by changing your mindset and cold calling the new way. To show you what I mean, here are 7 cold calling ideas that even the sales gurus don't know.

1. Change Your Mental Objective Before You Make the Call If youíre like most people who make cold calls, youíre hoping to make a sale -- or at least an appointment -- before you even pick up the phone. The problem is, the people you call somehow always pick up on your mindset immediately. They sense that youíre focused on your goals and interests, rather than on finding out what they might need or want. This short-circuits the whole process of communication and trust-building. Hereís the benefit of changing your mental objective before you make the call: it takes away the frenzy of working yourself up mentally to pick up the phone. All the feelings of rejection and fear come from us getting wrapped up in our expectations and hoping for an outcome when itís premature to even be thinking about an outcome. So try this. Practice shifting your mental focus to thinking, "When I make this call, Iím going to build a conversation so that a level of trust can emerge allowing us to exchange information back and forth so we can both determine if thereís a fit or not."

2. Understand the Mindset of the Person Youíre Calling Letís say youíre at your office and youíre working away. Your phone rings and someone says, "Hello, my nameís Mark. Iím with Financial Solutions International. We offer a broad array of financial solutions. Do you have a few minutes?" What would go through your mind? Probably something like this: "Uh-oh, another salesperson. Iím about to be sold something. How fast can I get this person off the phone?" In other words, itís basically over at "Hello," and you end up rejected. The moment you use the old cold calling approach -- the traditional pitch about who you are and what you have to offer, which all the sales gurus have been teaching for years -- you trigger the negative "salesperson" stereotype in the mind of the person youíve called, and that means immediate rejection. I call it "The Wall." The problem is with how youíre selling, not what youíre selling. This is an area thatís been ignored in the world of selling. Weíve all been trained to try to push prospects into a "yes" response on the first call. But that creates sales pressure. But, if you learn to really understand and put yourself in the mindset of the person you call, youíll find it easier to avoid triggering The Wall. Itís that fear of rejection that makes cold calling so frightening. Instead, start thinking about language that will engage people and not language that will trigger rejection.

3. Identify a Core Problem That You Can Solve Weíve all learned that when we begin a conversation with a prospect, we should talk about ourselves, our product, and our solution. Then we sort of hope that the person connects with what weíve just told them. Right? But when you offer your pitch or your solution without first involving your prospect by talking about a core problem that they might be having, youíre talking about yourself, not them. And thatís a problem. Prospects connect when they feel that you understand their issues before you start to talk about your solutions. When people feel understood, they donít put up The Wall. They remain open to talking with you. Hereís an example based on my own experience. I offer Unlock The Gameô as a new approach in selling. When I call a vice president of sales, I would never start out with, "Hi, my name is Ari, I'm with Unlock The Game, and I offer the newest technique in selling, and I wonder if you have a few minutes to talk now." Instead, I wouldnít even pick up the phone without first identifying one or more problems that I know VPs often have with their sales teams. Problems that Unlock The Gameô can solve. For example, one common problem is when sales teams and salespeople spend time chasing prospects who have no intention of buying. So I would start by asking, "Are you grappling with issues around your sales team chasing prospects who lead them on without any intention of buying?" So, come up with two or three specific core problems that your product or service solves. (Avoid generic problem phrases like "cut costs" or "increase revenue." Theyíre too vague.)

4. Start With a Dialogue, Not a Presentation Letís return to the goal of a cold call, which is to create a two-way dialogue engaging prospects in a conversation. Weíre not trying to set the person up for a yes or no. Thatís the old way of cold calling. This new cold calling approach is designed to engage people in a natural conversation. The kind you might have with a friend. This lets you both of you decide whether itís worth your time to pursue the conversation further. The key here is never to assume beforehand that your prospect should buy what you have to offer, even if theyíre a 100 percent fit with the profile of the "perfect customer." If you go into the call with that assumption, prospects will pick up on it and The Wall will go up, no matter how sincere you are. Avoid assuming anything about making a sale before you make a call. For one thing, you have no idea whether prospects can buy what you have because you know nothing about their priorities, their decisionmaking process, their budget, etc. If you assume that youíre going to sell them something on that first call, youíre setting yourself up for failure. Thatís the core problem with traditional old-style cold calling. Stay focused on opening a dialogue and determining if it makes sense to continue the conversation.

5. Start With Your Core Problem Question Once you know what problems you solve, you also know exactly what to say when you make a call. Itís simple. You begin with, "Hi, my name is Ari. Maybe you can help me out for a moment." How would you respond if someone said that to you? Probably, "Sure, how can I help you?" or "Sure, what do you need?" Thatís how most people would respond to a relaxed opening phrase like that. Itís a natural reaction. The thing is, when you ask for help, youíre also telling the truth because you donít have any idea whether you can help them or not. Thatís why this new approach is based on honesty and truthfulness. Thatís why youíre in a very good place to begin with. When they reply, "Sure, how can I help you?," you donít respond by launching into a pitch about what you have to offer. Instead, you go right into talking about the core problem to find out whether itís a problem for the prospect. So you say, "Iím just giving you a call to see if you folks are grappling (and the key word here is Ďgrapplingí) with any issues around your sales team chasing prospects who turn out to never have any intention of buying?" No pitch, no introduction, nothing about me. I just step directly into their world. The purpose of my question is to open the conversation and develop enough trust so theyíll feel comfortable having a conversation. The old way of cold calling advises asking lots of questions to learn about the prospectís business and to "connect." The problem is that people see right through that. They know that you have an ulterior motive, and then youíre right back up against The Wall. These ideas may be hard for you to apply to your own situation at first because trying to leverage calls based on what we know about our solution is so engrained in our thinking. If you stay with it, though, you can learn to step out of your own solution and convert it into a problem that you can articulate using your prospectsí language. And thatís the secret of building trust on calls. Itís the missing link in the whole process of cold calling.

6. Recognize and Diffuse Hidden Pressures Hidden sales pressures that makes The Wall go up can take a lot of forms. For example, "enthusiasm" can send the message that youíre assuming that what you have is the right fit for the prospect. That can send pressure over the phone to your prospect. You must be able to engage people in a natural conversation. Think of it as calling a friend. Let your voice be natural, calm, relaxedÖeasy-going. If you show enthusiasm on your initial call, youíll probably trigger the hidden sales pressure that triggers your prospect to reject you. Another element of hidden pressure is trying to control the call and move it to a "next step". The moment you begin trying to direct your prospect into your "sales process", there is a very high likelihood that you can "turn off" your prospect's willingness to share with you the details of their situation. It's important to allow the conversation to evolve naturally and to have milestones or checkpoints throughout your call so you can assess if there is a fit between you and the person you are speaking with.

7. Determine a Fit Now, suppose that youíre on a call and itís going well, with good dialogue going back and forth. Youíre reaching a natural conclusionÖand what happens? In the old way of cold calling, we panic. We feel weíre going to lose the opportunity, so we try to close the sale or at least to book an appointment. But this puts pressure on the prospect, and you run the risk of The Wall going up again. Hereís a step that most people miss when they cold call. As soon as they realize that prospects have a need for their solution, they start thinking, "Great, that means theyíre interested." What they donít ask is, "Is this need a top priority for you or your organization to solve, or is it something thatís on the back burner for a while?" In other words, even if you both determine that there ia a problem you can solve, you have to ask whether solving it is a priority. Sometimes thereís no budget, or it isnít the right time. Itís important that you find this out, because months later you'll regret not knowing this earlier. Putting the Pieces Together Have you ever wondered where the "numbers game" concept came from? It came from someone making a call, getting rejected, and the boss saying, "Call someone else." But with the new way of cold calling, itís not about how many people you call. Itís about what you say and how you come across. Do you remember the definition of insanityócontinuing to do the same thing but expecting different results? If you go on using the same old cold calling methods, youíll go on experiencing the ever-increasing pain of selling. But if you adopt a new approach and learn how to remove pressure from your initial cold calls, youíll experience so much success and satisfaction that itíll really change the way you do business, bring you sales success beyond your imaginationóand eliminate "rejection" from your vocabulary for good.


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