“Call quantity is everything”, said the team leader as he or she walked the floor in front of the new recruits. “The person who makes the most calls, will make the most sales, and will win the trophy; it’s a numbers game.” So, blindly like lemmings over a cliff, they punch out the calls, dealing with objection after objection, until their soul is broken, the company’s brand is destroyed and the business suffers. But it is a numbers game, right? Well actually no, that's WRONG.
Calling a prospect who is unqualified and has very little chance of buying is fine if you employ highly skilled sales people who are selling into a low skilled consumer market. But no business in this marketplace is going to buy anything that won’t help their business just because your salesperson asked nicely. I have trained sales people to walk past gatekeepers. I have trained sales people to overcome objections and close deals. I have seen the results that can come from giving someone the tools to deal with objections, but I have also seen the impact of changing a low structured strategy of “call everyone one on the list”, to a high, structured strategy where calls are made within a sales campaign.
Over time sales technique coaching may give you a 10% to 15% lift in results, so if you are paying wages today it does makes sense to get more value from that expensive resource. Sales training does work if it is reinforced daily and in the worst case, at least once a week. Regardless of the skill of the trainer, expecting people to change their habitual communication style from just one day of theory and role play activity is nonsense. It must become a habit, it must be reinforced, it must be monitored, and it must become part of their DNA. Funnily enough, the best sales technicians I have ever employed required almost no sales training - sales training was employed to lift the standard of the remainder of the team.
So what is the alternative to calling a cold list with a generic spiel, ready and armed for the objections? At some time every product or service was built or created to fill a hole in a market. There was something someone needed or someone wanted in the first place. The role of extremely high-level salespeople, (I have only ever met about six) is to sell products to people that they did not want, or did not need. If that is your strategy, good luck finding the people with the skill to do that. I have trained and coached some, and they are incredible to watch, but also very hard to manage, and near impossible to find.
Making a phone call should be at the end of the sales process, not at the beginning.
Before the call is made there is a planning process, which includes identifying and challenging your value proposition, creating an ideal client metric, creating a metric of clients you do not want, and then using that tool to create your prospect list. That takes you about 25% of the way there.
Next, you need to segment the prospects into sales campaigns based on their similarities and build a multilayered contact strategy with multiple contact goals. We are now around 65% there. You now need to build and test all the sales tools such as follow up emails, website links and build all this into the CRM for capture. 80% of the way there.
Not every call results in a sale so you will need a “Contract Lifecycle Management” plan to move prospects from what we call a RAW state through to a READY state, which may require 10-14 contacts per year and should include some automation. We are now 90% there. The plan, the tools, and the strategy must now be tested, pulled apart and put back together. Calling clients is NOT a testing area - it is a field of play. Always test in a house first!
Now you are ready to sales-train your people and start making calls. Now you have a great plan, you have a great opening, you have inspired people who are ready for all outcomes and you have a strategy which will just keep on giving. Or you can just create a list and make some cold calls. It’s up to you.