This is the transcript of episode 15
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Hey, this is Mark, your host on the Hired Trainer.com podcast.
Today we’re going to talk about cold calling.
Cold calling has a place to play in your training business.
It’s defined as calling people whom you do not yet know.
Now, if you’re like most people, the phrase ‘cold calling’ typically elicits a negative response.
What do you feel when you hear the words ‘cold calling?’
Yeah, it sounds kind of uncomfortable, but it need not be that way and we’re going to look at ways today that you can make this work for you.
Social media is not the only channel.
If everyone, as seems to be the case these days, is going the social route, perhaps you need to stand out more by lifting the phone and creating some kind of cold calling strategy.
It does not mean that we forego or we give up on social media – quite the opposite, but the secret to success in sales is to try something and see what works for you.
Cold calling just might be right for you and your business.
This is Episode 15 of the Hired Trainer.com podcast. It’s just you and I today. Let’s go solo.
Hey, thanks once again for you time.
This is the podcast dedicated to you.
That’s right. If you’re a trainer looking to get hired, to learn more and to earn more, this is the show for you.
Today’s different. It’s just you and I. No guests on the show.
If you’re familiar with the last 14 episodes of the Hired Trainer.com podcast so far, you’ll know that I’ve had guests on the topics of marketing, live streaming, training needs analysis and return on investment and so on.
So today it’s just you and I, and we’re going to talk about something which is very close to my heart and that’s the subject of cold calling.
Thanks to things like Instagram, LinkedIn, Periscope, Facebook and Twitter, of course, there tends to be an over-reliance on social media these days as a way of generating business.
It’s great for generating brand awareness, but I’m not sure it’s the only channel for generating business.
We see lots of people – my peers and your peers included – putting up live streams, sometimes without a clear strategy.
It’s fun to create live streams and it’s fun to create Instagram posts, but are they actually working?
Unless you have a source of analytics and you understand how to analyse that data, you really can’t tell if it’s productive, can you?
I attended an entrepreneur conference in London this weekend past and I met an independent marketer and she confirmed exactly what I’m going to tell you.
A large part of her lead generation of her business generation comes from lifting the phone and talking to people for the first time.
Now, that sounds nerve-wracking, but one of the goals of today’s podcast episode is to perhaps help you to find a way to do it that makes sense for you and is less fearful.
My background for this is very simple. I used to work for a lead generation company in Philadelphia in the US and over there we had to make 150 calls daily.
What I learned on the job was that when it comes to cold calling there is a system and a structure which needs to be put in place and without that you will, and many people will, FEAR cold calling.
Fear by the way stands for False Expectations Appearing Real.
What that tells us is that therefore apart from systemisation and structure – which we’ll talk about – the one thing that you need to work on is your mindset because FEAR will prevent you from doing things.
FEAR stands for, as I said, False Expectations Appearing Real. Therefore one of the antidotes or solutions for FEAR of cold calling is to focus on your mindset and addressing your mindset is something we’ll do in Part 2 in another episode or a future episode of this podcast.
Okay, so let’s get down to business.
We’ll talk about five things today which are going to help you to make cold calling part of your strategy to build your training business.
The five things are:
- Your opening 15 seconds of your phone call
- How you qualify someone on the phone
- How you know and track your call numbers
- How you can leave voicemail in a way that works for you
Now, there are five other topics which we’ll talk about in a future episode, but let’s focus on these five things today.
Are you ready? You might want to grab a pen and a notebook for this.
The first thing is research.
The number one rule to make cold calling work for you is to never cold call.
Okay, maybe you’re confused. Never cold call. It doesn’t mean never call. It means that you should find a way to warm up the call.
If we’re just calling without any research, without any effort put in to finding out whom we need to speak to and what we need to speak about, and what they do, and whom they serve and what they sell, it’s really a waste of time.
You wouldn’t take a call from someone if they’ve no clue about your name or what you did and they were asking questions which gave you the impression they had done no research.
So put yourself in the shoes of the person you wish to speak to, and I really mean that. Put yourself in their shoes, look at their world from their eyes.
What one thing, or a couple of things, would tell them that you know what it’s like to be in their shoes?
Look at Twitter. Look at their Twitter feed. This is where social media really is useful.
Look at their Twitter feed. Look at their LinkedIn profile, the things they comment on, the things they post.
What are they doing right now? What is their competition doing? Think about the things why someone would want to take your call.
Now, if you do this as an exercise, you can get Post-it notes and write a couple of words on those Post-it notes. Put them on your notice board or your wall. Stand back, take a good look and ask yourself a couple of things.
Does the language on those Post-it notes describe what it’s like to be in the shoes of the person you’re planning to speak to?
Does it sound like the language that they would use to describe their world?
Remember, people take calls and conduct conversations for their reasons, not yours.
So you want to sound like you care about those reasons, you understand those reasons.
You may not be a 100 per cent certain about those reasons, but what you’re doing is you’re looking for a hook.
So look for a hook. Look for their challenges. Look for clues about their strategy. Think about their pain points.
Think about the things they want to go away; the problems they want to solve, because if you don’t know how on earth your training is going to solve those pain points, those challenges, enable that strategy, how are you going to sell your training program? Does that make sense?
Great. Okay. Let’s look at number two.
Number two is your opening.
We call this your first 15 seconds.
Your first 15 seconds research tends to show the amount of time within which you really have to clarify a couple of things.
It’s crucial that you get this right, but what many people do in sales and I think you know this is true, is they script it because it sounds easy when all I have to do is read off a page, rattle something off and I read the same thing for everyone.
But if I read the same thing for everyone, what it tends to do is to create the impression that I’m talking to anyone – and not someone.
So take away the script. Think about the first part. Do you research. Think of the things that are going on in that person’s world and then get ready to talk to them.
So the first 15 seconds are never the same for everyone.
Here’s an example of what that might sound like:
“Hi Susan. My name is Mark from Hired Trainer.com.
I work with contact centres such as ‘X’ to help their new sales teams to engage prospects quickly and efficiently over the telephone.
I saw the announcement online this morning that you’ve just invested in a new contact centre in Porto Rico, so the purpose of my call is to see if a face to face meeting makes sense, to explore how we can put in place a program to achieve similar results.
Where do you see a telephone sales training program having the most benefit for your new team? I’m just curious?”
…And then I might go onto another question.
So think of it this way. When you speak to someone, there are three questions going through their head. Just three questions?
- Who are you?
- Why are you calling me?
- Why should I care?
Who are you? Why are you calling me? Why should I care?
The thing to remember is that the answer is different for everyone.
So in the same way I’m talking to Susan, I’m thinking about a reason to call her, a purpose. if you will.
I’m thinking about why I’m calling her – a hook.
And I’m thinking about the answer to the question, why should she care?
And the answers are different for everyone.
So think about your first 15 seconds.
Practice the structure, but don’t script it, and make sure that you’re answering those questions when you call. Why are you calling me? Who are you? Why should I care?
And you can answer those in any particular sequence that makes sense to you.
The third one is qualify.
What qualify means is that we need to ask questions to make sure that it’s worth continuing the conversation and there is a potential for business, or at least a next step in the sales process.
Now, I want you to close your eyes for a moment.
Really, do it. Just close your eyes. Okay.
Imagine a table. Now in your mind, see that table. It’s got four legs.
Each of those legs stands for a letter.
Those letters are B, A, N, T
Those four legs hold up the table.
Imagine on the top of that table is a sales opportunity.
So each of those legs hold up that opportunity.
Imagine if I pull one of those legs away right now. What happens?
Yeah, the opportunity slides off the table, the table collapses.
So, think of it this way.
Your opportunity is held up or supported by four things and those are the letters, B,A,N,T.
Now, what do those letters stand for?
B-A-N-T stands for Budget, Authority, Need and Timing.
Let’s talk about the first one – Budget.
B for Budget. This means that we need to ask questions to qualify our prospect and understand if they have money or the intention of spending money on a sales program?
If people don’t have money, they’re not really going to spend money, and if they don’t have money to spend, there’s no real sales opportunity, and if there’s no sales opportunity, is there any point in continuing the conversation at that moment in time?
You’re a business person. The object is to stay in business and to generate business.
So questions around this, the topic of Budget, could be something like:
“Is sales training something you’ll invest in in 2019? Is this something you’ve allocated funds to specifically right now?”
So you’re asking questions to find out whether someone has the intention to spend money and is therefore serious about investing in a program from you.
A stands for Authority.
What this means is that we’re looking to connect with someone who actually has the power to make a buying decision.
We could ask a question like:
“Who makes decisions about training strategy in your organization? Is this something in the remit of HR, or is this something at the C-suite level? Is this something that you would decide alone, Bob? Or is this something that you consult your colleagues about?”
Does that make sense?
So you’re trying to find out is this the person that you need to talk to about buying decisions for training programs?
Unless we’re talking to the right person, we’re wasting time.
We may need to be referred and if that’s the case, you can ask for a referral or clarify who that person is and get their contact details so you can continue the conversation with them.
The next thing is need.
N for Need.
I began, if you recall, when I was talking about the first 15 seconds, with the question to Susan. That’s the person I was making up my question to.
I said to her, if you recall, “Where do you see your telephone sales training program having the most benefit?”
Now that’s what’s called a need question.
So when you ask a need question, you’re trying to find out if there’s actually a problem that needs to be solved.
And that’s often the reason why companies invest in training, isn’t it, because there’s a future need or there’s a current need.
The thing to remember here is that you can’t come off the phone with your prospect and answer to yourself conclusively in the mirror, “Yes, there’s a need,” then there is no lead.
I know that’s harsh, but if there’s no need, there is no lead and therefore there’s no need to progress that call any further or that conversation any further.
Now, things may change. Needs evolve, but at that moment in time, if you’re going to spend time progressing that phone call and there’s no lead, you’re wasting their time and your time.
So the kinds of questions you could ask here would be:
“What specifically would sales training fix? You mentioned ’X’.”
Or you could say something like:
“The kinds of companies I work with sometimes find that ‘X’ is an issue. Is that true for you?
How would getting your teams to do ‘X’ better help?”
Those kind of questions then generate a conversation which help you to clarify whether there’s a need or not.
The final letter in our acronym B-A-N-T sometimes pronounced BANT is Timing.
So timing means that we want to find out when someone is actually going to make a decision and perhaps buy something from us.
So questions we could ask here would be:
“When are you looking to address this?”
“If we could help you to tighten up on ‘X’ or to improve ‘X,’ do you see yourself doing this before 2019?”
You’re looking for clues here which tell the person that they have a need, they are the right person to speak to, there is some kind of wherewithal or financial ability to pay for a program, and of course, it’s something within a timeframe where you can be of help.
Now, if it’s something two years’ out, okay, call back in two years’ time, but unless it’s something within a timeframe which is relevant to your sales cycle, it may not be a lead.
So again, four legs of a table. All legs are present or the table collapses.
I find this is very useful to check whether I have all the clues that tell me this is a sales opportunity worth pursuing.
Number four – know your call numbers
This is really, really important.
If you think of any sports person, any tennis player, any golf player, any sports person in any sport, I bet they know their numbers.
They know their numbers or the people who manage them, know their numbers.
You think of any baseball game, any golf tournament, any tennis tournament, soccer tournament, cricket tournament, the people commentating on those events always refer to statistics and numbers because any person in the professional sphere knows their numbers or they die – it’s that simple.
Anyone who knows their numbers knows what’s working and knows what’s not working, and it’s the basis of any business model.
What am I talking about here?
Let’s assume that I’m able to track my sales activity every day and I see that as a cold caller I might make 400 calls a week, or less, or more – but it doesn’t matter.
What matters is whether it works or not.
And so what I’m looking for here is a formula.
Let’s say I can say looking back on my statistics, having tracked my sales activity, that I made 247 calls. Two hundred and forty-seven calls. And those 247 calls led to 29 phone conversations. Twenty-nine phone conversations.
And those 29 phone conversations led to five face to face meetings and those five face to face meetings led to one sale.
So 247, 29, 5, 1 – that’s my formula.
Now, this might be the statistics for one month, but over time you’ll find that you will get a rough formula which tells you the amount of activity you have to put in, in terms of dials, to get the amount of calls, to get the amount of face to face conversations that you need to make one sale.
Now, you cannot know these numbers unless you track your numbers because there’s no magic recipe – there’s no way that I could say, although I’m a sales trainer of many, many years, I could not tell you what that number is for you.
It’s specific to you – which days you find this works, when you get the most results, which time of day, how many dials become conversations, which become meetings, which become sales.
This is the concept of pipeline and it’s specific to you, your business, your industry.
The best sales people can predict their sales on average because they know their pipeline and therefore they know where their effort will be most effective and how much effort will be effective.
And they know then where they’re getting results or not getting results.
If they’re not getting results, they’ve now got the information and power to do something different, so it’s absolutely essential that when you’re cold calling, you’re tracking what you’re doing and you’re finding that formula over time, which tells you how much effort you’ve got to put in to get dials, to get conversations, to get face to face meetings, to get a sale. Absolutely important!
And finally, number five.
This is about leaving voicemail.
Voicemail is actually something very worthwhile talking about and there are different opinions on this.
When people lift the phone and dial, they often are very clear about what they want to say.
In fact, they’re overly clear about what they want to say and sometimes formulate that by creating a script and that does not work. You sound false, you sound phoney, it sounds scripted, it doesn’t sound natural.
What people often don’t have any thought of or views on or preparation for, is what happens if they don’t get through?
Most people script their opening or first 15 seconds and they tend to sound like they’re speaking to robots or speaking to anyone.
And when they don’t get through, that’s when they’re unprepared and they say “Err, umm, err. Hey, Bob. Bob, this is Mark. I was calling to see umm, to ask you about your plans. Umm, err, can you… Can you call me back on…? My number is 732 414 5… Oh, sorry, I forgot to mention, this is Mark from Hired Trainer. Call me back. Thanks. Bye.”
Yeah, I know it sounds awful, but that’s a voicemail that I would left in the past.
Ironically, people are doing this the wrong way round.
Your opening 15 seconds should be unscripted. It should be structured.
It should clearly answer those questions:
Who are you? Why are you calling me? Why should I care?
But it’s your voicemail that should be scripted. Imagine that.
Why? Here’s why.
If you’re scripting your voicemail, you’re doing two things.
First of all, you’re communicating the clear message, “I’m busy.”
If you’re not doing that, you’re leaving long voicemails, you’re communicating to me as a prospect that you’re not busy.
Now, if you’re not busy, you’re unimportant, therefore why should I call you back?
You’re probably not doing well and I don’t want to do business with you.
So, when you’re leaving clipped, clear, short, brief, to the point voice mails, you’re telling my you’re busy, but you’re also (if you’re doing it properly) creating curiosity.
If you’re leaving a voicemail and you’re doing it in a way that provides too much information, you’re actually defeating the purpose.
You’re actually giving people reasons not to call you back because all they have to do is listen to the voicemail and establish “No, don’t need that. No, don’t want that,” and they won’t call you back.
So, here’s what you do:
Write down something like this:
“Hey Bob, this is Mark from Hired Trainer.com. I was told you’re the only person who can help me on this. Give me a call back on 549 322 452. That’s 549 322 452. Thanks.” Click. End of call.
So what does that do?
Well, first of all, it communicates that you’re busy.
It also makes it clear that you’re articulating exactly what you want, and that is to get the call back.
And thirdly, it’s creating curiosity in my mind because I’m thinking, “Oh, my goodness. What is that about? Ooh, that’s interesting. I’m the only person who can call him. I need to call them back and find out what that information is, how I can help them?”
So it sounds perhaps corny, but if you’re leaving voicemails effectively in a scripted manner, you’re also saving time.
Over the course of a week of cold calling, maybe an hour a day, you could be saving at least an hour, which saves you from leaving work and unnecessary voicemails on someone else’s phone.
So there we’re go:
- Do your research
- Your first 15 seconds
- Qualifying your prospects
- Knowing your call numbers
- Leaving effective voicemail
They’re the five tips to cold call.
When I need clients for my training business – and I do every year because I keep calling . Even when I’ve got great clients, I’m all the time looking for clients. Some clients fall out of the pipeline, yours will too – you need to generate business, you need to do it systemically.
Unless you’ve got pipeline, you’re unprepared for when a client doesn’t need you anymore and this happens. It happens in every industry.
By generating pipeline, you’ll be confident in your cold calling strategy and you’ll have an approach that works for you, because a call is infinitely quicker than a video or creating a blog post.
I’d rather get through, find out that someone’s not looking to buy right now, and get permission to engage at the right time in the future and then move on to the next call and know when to re-engage.
And also, over the phone I may also get the kinds of information I would never get by putting up a social media post because a telephone call is a dialogue where social media very often is a monologue. It’s you to many.
A phone call is one to one. It’s you to them.
So at the very most I might get to begin some kind of relationship and whilst it might not be the case that they need something today, please remember this always for the rest of your sales or business career:
“No, does not mean never. It just means not right now.”
So if you get used to calling confidently and having a conversation with someone, you may well find out what they need, so that the next time you call back it isn’t a cold call. It’s a warm call.
So that’s it for today, guys.
Love talking to you about these things.
Give me some feedback.
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