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Another Business Advice Thread: Cold Calling

Blackhood

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So I'm entering a new business with a friend and part of my responsibility is arranging meetings with clients. This is an area of sales that I've not really been a part of before (I've sold from call centres, fine art galleries and most recently suits) so there must be some SFers out there who approach clients out of the blue for a living.

Any tips on securing meetings with higher-ups?

Any methods or strategies to make those people take you seriously?

Any pitfalls or golden bullets for selling Business to Business rather than to consumers?

Naturally any diamonds of knowledge that can be mined from the mountain that is SF will be gratefully received!

PS: I did look at the other Cold Calling thread, but its mostly about B2C and working from call centres.
 

Raoul Duke

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I look forward to the responses in this thread. I'm at the point where I would like selling my own services as well, but I am still quite young. I'm worried that I will not be trusted/taken seriously.
 

appolyon

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One piece of advice I would give is to use a script and before making calls and to refine it as you go along. Also, don't be too rigid with it, you don't want to sound like your reading a script.

Look up 'elevator pitch' to get some ideas of how to put together your proposition.
 

Don Carlos

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Originally Posted by appolyon
One piece of advice I would give is to use a script and before making calls and to refine it as you go along. Also, don't be too rigid with it, you don't want to sound like your reading a script. Look up 'elevator pitch' to get some ideas of how to put together your proposition.
+1 Know what you're going to say before you say it. Know what to say when you encounter commonly anticipated responses and brush offs. You don't want to sound robotic, or as if you're literally reading from a script. But use one, even if all it is is an informal set of conversational guidelines. It may sound cheesy, but there is a good reason why telemarketing companies use scripts. They minimize the opportunity for error. Finally, don't neglect your homework. The most important part of a sales call is the pre-sale research on the company and person you're looking to reach. You can't expect to follow a generic script for all business customers the way you might be able to with consumers.
 

giraffe lookout

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What they said, plus don't get discouraged and try to focus on what does work. I recently left a sales b2b sales job in which I really had to try out several angles on our pitch before I figured out what was the best, brief, value proposition to offer.

I'm not sure what the percentages are like in this exact situation but most cold calls are a low percentage game. Understand that in order to get to hear one yes, you are going to have to here so many nos so even when you hear a no, you are making progress.
 

Piobaire

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As a large target for cold callers, and someone that did a fair bit of sales and marketing at one time, here's some things I'd suggest:

1) Don't try to get/get around my secretary acting like you know me. If you get by her I'm not talking to you just because.

2) Don't act like you know me.

3) Realize my time is valuable.

4) Do your homework. Know my need before you call me, do not ask me to identify a need for you.

5) Don't try to hide the fact you want to sell me something. Be direct about it.

6) Never stiff me. If you say you're going to call me at a certain date/time, come by, even just send me some literature...I don't care if you just had both legs amputated, deliver on what you said you would.

Good luck! Sales is tough but IMO it's the life blood of industry. Few products sell themselves.
 

HRoi

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Cold calling should be your last resort. Better to try and leverage your business or social networks, or referrals from your current, satisfied clients first
 

acidboy

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I've done my share of cold calling, and one thing I always remind myself is be humble. I always try to make an appointment with the person I want to meet and I make sure we do meet on his terms. I also make it a point to be short in my presentation, and bring out the small talk card only when I'm sure its gonna be okay with my prospect.
 

CouttsClient

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Originally Posted by Piobaire
As a large target for cold callers, and someone that did a fair bit of sales and marketing at one time, here's some things I'd suggest:

1) Don't try to get/get around my secretary acting like you know me. If you get by her I'm not talking to you just because.

2) Don't act like you know me.

3) Realize my time is valuable.

4) Do your homework. Know my need before you call me, do not ask me to identify a need for you.

5) Don't try to hide the fact you want to sell me something. Be direct about it.

6) Never stiff me. If you say you're going to call me at a certain date/time, come by, even just send me some literature...I don't care if you just had both legs amputated, deliver on what you said you would.

Good luck! Sales is tough but IMO it's the life blood of industry. Few products sell themselves.


+1

I'll add that if you hold up your end of the bargain and call me when you said you would and I don't answer...leave a voicemail and let me know what day and time you'll be calling again. Repeat until you accomplish your goal. It goes a long way.
 

Blackhood

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Thanks for the advice guys. I really appreciate it.

Unfortunately the business is a start up, so there is very little leverage in either social or business contacts at the moment. Ultimately though we will develop customers on a purely reference based system.

In particular we are selling to Education so the price is going to be the most significant issue. Any insights into those arenas?

Also I'm assuming a success rate of about 1/10 to 1/15. Is this reasonable or should I lower my expectations a bit?
 

globetrotter

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what pio said.

on top of that, get your self on amazon and look for some books on elevator pitch, cold call, selling to C suite. I could talk to you for a week about it and not cover everything.

if you are selling to civil servants, remember, their lives are shit. a donut is a big thing to them, treat them nice, and they will remember you. drop by with a box of cookies every time, buy people lunches, they will remember you.

if you are going to an organization, try to get everyone to know you - hang out there, talk to people (not just the people you are selling to) you never know who will influence the buyers, and you can get good information from people in the organizaton

god, I am glad I don't do that anymore.
 

appolyon

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Originally Posted by Blackhood
Also I'm assuming a success rate of about 1/10 to 1/15. Is this reasonable or should I lower my expectations a bit?

You should try and get yourself and team up to a minimum 20% success rate (that's locking down in 5 phone calls to a meeting).

If your selling B2B your prospects are considerably more limited than B2C and you have to do your utmost not to just burn through them all.
 

Joffrey

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Originally Posted by globetrotter
. if you are selling to civil servants, remember, their lives are shit. a donut is a big thing to them, treat them nice, and they will remember you. drop by with a box of cookies every time, buy people lunches, they will remember you.
Nice to meet you too, ass.
OP, there's a ton of money in Sales if you are good at it. Though I consider it to be a potentially soul destroying field, I have a ton of respect for people who are able to succeed there. I imagine, 80% [hardest part] of the job is learning how to pitch and building a client list, while the rest is showing up. I remember my first job out of college wasn't really sales but I had to convince disinterested corporate execs to give me very sensitive corporate information over the phone - rarely dealing with their attorneys to boot. I actually got very good at it after a year (thanks to an awesome boss and eventually learning how to explain what I needed and why). But I am so glad I'm done with that.
 

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