Cold Calling is the worst! I have hated it for so long, it seems almost a surprise when I still make the time to make them and am successful at them. It is incredibly difficult to make a cold call to a potentially new customer, because it is always a risk to call someone out of the blue and expect some civility from the other end of the phone. Especially in today’s world of selling. Today, selling has become automated and the calls I get at home or my office are mostly so rude and uncaring, that I am surprised that there are still sales-people out there. But there are, and I am living proof of it, as I have been selling my services now for over 25 years. There’s been some rough some years I admit, but mostly, it has been very rewarding, and I have been able to make a great living doing it. I go to trade shows, I attend business lunches, I go to business golf outings and events; all trying to meet new prospects. I watch other sales people all the time, and most of them are clowns showing off and peddling crap. But I have also learned what NOT to do, and I have compiled a short list here of the most common mistakes not to make and how I go about selling my services.
When you sell your service to someone you first meet, tell them what it is that you do and then leave it alone. From that point on, you should then be only interested in learning as much as you can about this person you are speaking with. Who are they? What are their needs? Why are they speaking with you? How will your service help them? Ask as many questions as you can, to determine what they need. If you constantly tell people why they should buy your product, then you risk becoming a broken record that is stuck. You then have become a bore and have lost them. Because you cared more about making the sale than in helping your prospective new client.
You should be an expert in your field and with your service and products. Enough so that you will be able to handle questions and objections in a careful and polite manner. But this does not entitle you to be an ass about it. I cannot tell you how many times I have walked away from or hung up on someone who tried to make me feel like an idiot because I didn’t immediately see the benefits, or because I had a couple of questions. Or even worse, tried to bully me into buying their products. This is the quickest way to alienate your customer and lose them forever. Even if the new customer is rude to you… leave it be. Always be generous and caring in your dealings with a new customer. They don’t know you or your product/services. Why would they? They never met you before? It is up to you in how respectful you are towards them, and how really interested you are in who they are that will truly bring you the success you wish for.
You have an appointment to meet a new prospect!! That is great. Be as prepared as you possibly can be. I know that most of you reading this will roll your eyes and go “duh”. But you would be surprised at how often salespeople will be careless and “wing it”. Please don’t do this!! It will just totally ruin any possible relationship with this new customer if you come off as careless and unprepared in your first meeting. Remember; first impressions really do count for most of what they think about you. If you come across as thoughtful, prepared and respectful of their time, then you will be rewarded beyond your wildest dreams. If you come off as a fool, well then, you get what you deserve. No clients!
The biggest mistake you will ever make is that once you’ve made the sale is to never contact them again. Even if this one sale is all you can ever make, stay in touch with them. Call them every 3- 6 months or so just to see how they are doing. Ask them about their families, about their job, about what is going on in their lives. These people have chosen to buy from you, which means they trust you. This is a huge thing, this trust. Because once you have it, unless you really screw it up, you have it forever. Here is a personal example: I started in the water conservation business in 1990 and was there for 3 years until I left for another field. The customers that I met and sold water conservation equipment became friends in a way. I liked them and they liked me. When they had a question, they would call me. Even if it didn’t mean another sale, I was happy to do it for them, because I wanted to help them. And they remembered that. Because when I went to another firm in another industry, they were the first ones to sign up for my new services. And 95% of them are still with me, over 20 years later.
So in conclusion, it is my humble opinion that when you make it more of a personal issue with your prospects, when you treat them as if they were your friends, you will be more successful. Because in this world today, where you are being assaulted constantly by scamster and shysters all trying to get you to sign on the dotted line, or even worse to steal your identity, a little trust and respect can go a long way.
John Montano has been a successful salesman since 1990. He currently lives with his wife and travels between Chicago and Los Angeles. He created his site – ABMSNOW to offer tips and small business ideas on how to be more successful…no matter what your product is.