cold-callingI’ve always hated cold-calling…

Some of my earliest sales jobs were in telemarketing centers.   I would have utterly failed if they didn’t have computers dialing the phones for us.  Because I hated talking to yet another person who statistics said hated me and didn’t want to talk to me, much less buy what I was selling.

If it weren’t for auto-dial, the vast majority of telemarketers would be abject failures.  You can hear it in their voice when they talk to you.  They don’t want to be on the phone any more than you do.  But they’re on a shift, and they’re not allowed to take their headset off until break, or until that shift is over.  And the computer keeps dialing, as fast as they hang up from the last call.

Eventually, I got okay at it.  Mostly, because I treated the person on the other end of the line as a human.  I tried to be empathetic.  I told them about what I had, but I didn’t shove it down their throats.  It didn’t make me a sales superstar, but it worked to make a lot of sales.

Then, I got a job selling a high-end, valuable product that enriched the client’s life.  I actually liked selling it.  Picking up the phone to call prospects (which we had to do manually) wasn’t so bad.

I still didn’t like cold-calling.

Then, I discovered marketing.

I discovered that you can actually make prospects come to you!

And I realized that it’s so, so much better than having to make call after call to people who don’t want to speak with you.

Compare these two options:

— Every time you pick up the phone, it’s to speak with someone who doesn’t know you.  They have no context for your call.  It’s an unwelcome interruption to what they were already doing in the day.  At best, they’re going to hear you out for a few seconds, looking for an excuse to hang up.

— Every time you pick up the phone, it’s for a scheduled call with a prospect who wants to talk to you.  They’ve planned the call, and may even look forward to it.  They understand what you’re selling, and have been pre-educated and pre-qualified to discuss it with you.  They are only on the phone with you because they want to be, and want to make sure they stay on the call long enough to get the most out of it.

Which would you rather experience?  The second option, for sure!

Here’s the secret to ending cold-calling for good…

If you want to know how to end cold-calling, you have to look at its function.  The role of cold-calling is to reach out into the market of everyone you might suspect would become a customer, and figure out who is interested in starting a conversation.

Even if you are good at selecting a target market of only potential buyers, most people are not in the middle of making a buying decision right now.  Even if they are going to buy in the next 12 months, it doesn’t mean they’re ready to have a conversation today.

Cold-calling is a sifting and sorting process.  Its goal is to find interested, qualified prospects who are ready to have the conversation.

So the question becomes…

Is there another way to accomplish the same goal of finding interested, qualified prospects?

The answer: absolutely!

Put yourself in the customer’s shoes.  When they’re starting to do the research that will lead to a purchase decision, what are they thinking about?  What questions are they trying to have answered?  What information do they want to know?

What if instead of cold-calling to find the few in your market who have a question, you instead offered up answers to the pressing questions via informational guides?

By making these legitimately interesting, valuable information that answers the question of an early-stage buyer in your market, you’re going to capture a large number of people as they move from an inactive member of your target market to an active member of your target market.

In other words, you’re going to be catching prospects as they show their first signs they’re going to become buyers.

If you can do this successfully, your biggest challenge going forward is to simply NOT screw it up!

Do this right, and you’re going to capture a large number of prospects or leads who will become buyers of a product or service like yours in the coming weeks or months (generalizing to most markets).

You have two things to do from here:

— Give them an easy offer to move forward.

— Stay in touch until they’re ready to take action.

Like I said, most people who are in a market aren’t buyers today.  And in fact, if you’re catching people early in the buying cycle, only a few will really rise to the top to take immediate action.

What you have to do for everyone is to make it clear what the easiest, lowest-risk next step is for them to move forward.  Maybe it’s a consultation.  Maybe it’s a test drive.  Maybe it’s an assessment or analysis of some kind.  Maybe it’s a trial.

Whatever it is, make it clear when you educate the prospect about the questions they had and the problems they want to have solved, that you provide a product or service that will help them.  Make it clear what you do, and why it’s superior in solving their problem.

Then, continue to communicate with every lead or prospect until they say “stop.”

Don’t underestimate the power of follow-up!

In that last sales job (before I went 100% into marketing and building conversion systems for myself and clients), I had a simple rule.  I’d keep following up with a prospect on any decent-size deal until they told me they’d gone with a competitor or were not in the market for another reason.

Initially, I’d email them every day.  Right after talking, I’d find a relevant question or comment to send them a note about, and just remind them I was there to help.  The next day, I’d follow up again, with a short and personal note.

After a couple days (depending on how active the conversation was), I’d email again.  A few days later, again.

Eventually, the cycle would stretch so I emailed every week, two weeks, or three weeks max.  Simply staying in touch with a quick note, to remind them I was there to help.

I used a CRM and tasks to track the follow-up.

This consistently brought in deals in the $5,000 to $30,000 range.

The trick here: use marketing to get good leads to self-identify, then use your valuable time communicating only with good leads!

It’s really a simple system.

It requires a commitment to education-based marketing, then reasonable follow-up once a good lead has come to the surface.

It’s not complex.  Even novice salespeople can do most of it (although there are advantages to having a real pro define your messaging and develop the marketing bit).

But here’s the thing: it’s devastatingly effective.

Yours for bigger breakthroughs,

Roy Furr