Are you smart enough to come in out of the rain?
Sure, this probably sounds like something your mom would have asked (sorry if that stirs up complex memories).
Oh, and by the way … I’m presuming your answer is “yes.”
There is a point here. You seek shelter from rain in a structure. It might be a house, or a garage, or an overhang, or even – if you’ve been caught in one of those occasional deluges at Summerfest – a beer tent.
Life can get pretty damp without a structure or two nearby. Reminds me of several sales reps I’ve worked with, who felt like a black cloud appeared every time they picked up the phone to do some cold calling.
First, it rains. Then it pours.
They can’t get callbacks. They can’t get past the gatekeeper. If they actually get a decisionmaker on the line, the conversation rarely lasts beyond “Hello, Mr./Ms. Smith. My name is …”
As we dig deeper into what they’re doing, a big part of the problem quickly emerges. Their cold-calling is all wet … because of its structure!
Metaphorically speaking, their approach is soaked … waterlogged … drowning in self-induced failure. Well, prepare to grab an incoming life ring.
Get Serious About Structure
The content of a cold call makes or breaks it. Knowing what to say comprises Structure, the second Pillar of The Three Pillars of Cold Call Success.
The first Pillar, as detailed in my last article, is Strategy. Successful cold-calling involves qualifying prospects to an absolute micro-degree. Defining your value-add, and what’s in it for the prospect, is critical.
“Structure” is the call itself. It’s the moment of truth, when communication begins and continues … or not.
Why the latter outcome? Perhaps you’re giving away early that it’s a sales call. Or opening with three words you should never use. You’re focusing on the wrong thing. Or, you’re just trying to do too much.
Building a Sound Structure
A cold call isn’t about selling. Its goal is to set an appointment. In other words, just get in the door.
You don’t need much time. In fact, a solid cold call script runs 20 to 25 seconds. That’s it. Nor should you say a lot – in fact, what you don’t say can be most important of all.
What’s in the script? A series of components, one leading into the next. Start with an assumptive greeting to create familiarity. Pique interest with a few value-adds. Buy time with a non-salesy question or two. Your goal isn’t to sell, but to leave the prospect wanting to learn more.
“Great,” you might say. “Except that I rarely get a decisionmaker. I’m usually dealing with a gatekeeper who wants to get rid of me, or I’m transferred to voicemail.”
True enough. This happens to every salesperson. Structure your call properly, and you’ll be ready to leave a voicemail that gets returned. The gatekeeper? Why not turn them into an advocate (yes, it’s possible)?
Put the Pieces in Place
Maybe you’ve figured something out: There’s no one-size-fits-all structure for successful cold calling. You need to be prepared for any of several outcomes. Know what to say, howto say it, and how long it takes – whatever you encounter.
Easier said than done, right? You can learn much more by attending – in person or via live stream – my Feb. 28 Three Pillars of Cold Call Success seminar. We’ll deconstruct the elements of successful cold calling. You’ll leave with rebuilt confidence and a whole new game plan.
The third of the Three Pillars is Psychology, which I’ll address in my next article. You don’t need trickery or sleight-of-hand in cold calling. Some understanding of human nature, and respect for others, goes far.
Will your next cold call go far? Even the best script can go awry seconds into a call. Being disciplined, and staying on message, will steady the ship. Fall overboard and you’re … well … all wet.
A sound cold call structure is your shelter. You’re smart enough to build one.
Mom would be proud.
Paul M. Neuberger is President of The Starr Group, as well as the Founder/CEO ofThe Cold Call Coach. Struggling with cold calling in your sales outreach? ConsiderCold Calling for Success or Cold Call University. Contact Paul at 414-313-8338 or via e-mail at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.