Sales are the lifeblood of every business. Major companies rely on cold calling to generate a large portion, if not the majority of their revenue. I spent a year and a half cold calling for a fortune 500 company and progressed from straight out of college, no experience and “rough around the edges” to making $24,000 in one month.
I was trained with a library of tested and proven sales strategies. Anyone can do the same if they know the process and pair it with hard work.
1. Have a rock-solid script.
There’s a saying that: “Success is due in part to process and preparation.” Meaning how you do what you do, and how prepared you are. You prepare yourself by crafting a compelling script. That starts with meticulously writing out everything, from your intro to the types of questions your prospect will ask and how you’ll answer it. You want an arsenal of tested lines and examples to use during your pitch. Afterward, practice the script out loud until you have it memorized and it no longer sounds scripted.
2. Keep an organized pipeline.
A pipeline is your list of prospects. It’s how you keep track of who you’ve reached out to, need to reach out to, and pitched.You need to look at sales from a bottom-up perspective, meaning that if your process is bad it doesn’t matter how many calls you make or how good you are, you won’t be successful. The simplest way to organize your pipeline is to start with these categories:
- Reached out to
- Need to reach out to
You can organize your pipeline using Google spreadsheets, Excel, salesforce, etc. Here’s a free template I put together.
3. Work hard.
The dials won’t make themselves. Sales is a numbers game. The more prospects you talk to the more opportunities you have to make money. When I made $24,000 in a month I was making 60 to 100 calls per day. Most salespeople give up after one or two calls if they don’t get in touch with whomever they’re trying to reach. A study shows that it takes an average of eight attempts to get in touch with the decision maker. Although it's important to put in the work, don’t dial arbitrarily and burn through your leads.If you’re dialing mindlessly then you won’t make much headway. Be strategic and revisit leads that you weren’t able to get in touch with the first time. Lastly, be enthusiastic on your calls. No one wants to listen to someone that sounds unexcited about their own product.
4. Pitch qualified leads.
The biggest waste of time is pitching someone that’s not a good fit for your product or service. Time is precious. Even if you find someone that’s interested in hearing your offer you should still qualify (question) them to see if they're a good fit. A good prospect is someone that you are likely to close.
Say you’re selling advertising, a few good questions to ask are:
- Are you currently in an advertising contract with someone else? If so, you’d want to dig in and ask if they are willing to pay for additional advertising right now.
- Can you handle more business? If they can’t handle more business, no matter how sweet your offer is and how much they like it, they won’t buy. There goes an hour you spent with them that could have been used on another prospect. It’s your job to ask the right questions to make sure they’re the right fit.
Related: 7 Ways to Close More Sales
It’s also important that you only pitch the decision maker(s), i.e. whoever makes the buying decisions (typically the owner). Don’t waste time pitching a non-decision maker because usually you won’t get a yes right away. They’ll have to run it by the owner, and they probably won’t adequately relay the value of your product to them. You need the owner on the phone so you can show value, answer, and clarify any questions/objections.
5. Set the right expectations.
Don’t beat around the bush with your prospect. A lot of salespeople tend to dance around the reason for this call. They say, "...Tell you your free options."
Most people can sniff out if you’re holding something back, you never want to come off as shady, just be upfront. Salespeople do that because they don’t want to scare off a prospect. They dance around what the conversation is really about (usually spending money) until the very end. You never want to surprise the person you're pitching. If your goal is to get them to spend money at the end of your conversation, say that up front so they’re expecting it. It’ll be difficult to close a deal if they weren’t prepared to spend money in the first place.
Here’s how setting the right expectation might sound: "Hey so and so, thanks for taking the time to talk with me. On this call I’ll learn a bit about your business, show you our product and how it can help grow your business, and if at the end you like it we’ll get you signed up for a package, cool?"
Related: How to Nail a Sales Presentation
Do not proceed until your get their buy in. Meaning after you say “cool” wait for their response. If they say “ok,” proceed. If they don’t, ask again. If they have a problem with that, then you have the opportunity to handle their concerns upfront, so there are no surprises for you at the end or confusion as to why they don’t want to sign up.
That also gives you ammo when you go for the close. If at the end of the conversation, if they say: "Well, it seems like a great product, but I don’t have the budget right now."
You have the right to call them out and say: "Well you knew this was about spending money, why did you take the conversation?"
6. Follow the objection handling triangle.
A strategy for you to internalize is the objection handling triangle. This will come in handy when you get to the close. Objections are inevitable even if you give the best pitch in the world, your prospect may still try to poke holes in it and give reasons as to why they don’t want to buy. It’s OK because they’re scared and spending money can be scary sometimes. The best way to ease their concern is to follow the objection handling triangle:
- Objection: This is when you’re client gives you a reason they don’t want to buy. Typically this happens because they’re not sold on your product. What do you do next?
- Value: You give them more value. Reinforce how your product or service is going to help them. How will this change or revolutionize their business?
- Ask: Ask for the sale, meeting, or whatever you’re hoping to get out of the conversation. Surprisingly people tend to give their spiel and expect their customer to say something along the lines of, "sign me up now."