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Take the Plunge to Increase Sales: BusinessWise

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Take the Plunge to Increase Sales
By: Debra Kline, President

Guess what wins as the second best source of sales leads? Obviously “referrals” receives the most votes, as shown by a 2 to 1 margin in a recent poll by SellingPower.com. Why seek second best? No one argues over the power or value of referrals. Every sales professional nurtures, develops, and cherishes them. But what if you want to take your sales to a level beyond what comes from your current referral base?

Remaining poll results included Print Advertising, Telemarketing, Direct Mail, and Online ads, all ranked between four and six per cent as the Best Source for Leads. Referrals reached the 55% mark followed by the second Best Source for Leads at 25%…Cold Calling. Did someone say Cold Calling?

The feelings that cold calling evokes mirrors the varied sensations you get from jumping into a pool of water. Sometimes it feels like stepping into a warm bath or a refreshing spring on a hot day. At other times cold calling resembles jumping ship to land in an icy sea without a life preserver. Forget financial incentives, sales contests, motivational speakers, or sales training to get your staff to regularly swim in shark-infested waters.

With the right tools and systems in place, however, reps choose to take the plunge because they gain results. The difference comes from warming up the cold calling waters with the six E’s: Expectation, Equipment, Etiquette, Elasticity, Empathy and Endurance. Many managers remain unaware of obstacles inhibiting their sales force from cold calling success. Implement, train, and reward the right cold calling behavior to warm up the waters and take your sales to the next level and beyond.

Expectations: Set realistic goals for cold calling by phone or in person. If you want to reach decision makers by phone, expect 3 to 6 completed calls per hour. Voice mail remains a fact of life. Prepare your message before you dial. Do you know the primary and secondary objectives of the call?

Equipment: You need more than a telephone or shoe leather for effective cold calling results. Without an accurate database of decision makers to call, you’re spinning your wheels. The web may be a good resource for additional info, but it eats your time if you try to compile your call list from the web.

Etiquette: Mind your manners on the phone or in person. Your prospects judge you immediately from visual or auditory cues. Practice with management and colleagues to make sure you leave the first impression that you intended. Think it’s simple? Ask 5 people to tell you what they think of sales people. Then remember that no one tries to make a bad impression.

Elasticity: Scripts and outlines serve as indispensable tools, but flexibility counts. No one wants to talk with a machine, so don’t sound like one. Ask questions, and then listen . Remember, the one who asks the questions controls the conversation.

Empathy: It’s not about you! Think about everything you say and do from your prospect’s perspective. “What’s in it for me?” (the prospect) is paramount.

Endurance: Cold calling works if you keep at it. Most people quit before they give it a chance to succeed. Outsourcing the cold calling process works much better if you understand what it takes to be successful.