Every week I field anywhere between five and 15 sales calls.
Folks from all over the country (and sometimes the world!) that are trying to sell me all kinds of things. Off the top of my head, here are the phone calls I have received this week:
- Search engine marketing software
- Business intelligence software
- Marketing automation
- Telemarketing services and software
Fielding all these calls is a distraction; I’m usually in the middle of client work, helping to manage our growing team or reading The Oatmeal when I need a moment to recharge my batteries.
These phone calls interrupt all the things I mentioned above. So I finally took the time to put together a cold-call script for the recipient of the call that helps move the conversation along.
It goes a little something like this.
Step 1: “What are you selling me?”
Control the conversation from the get-go: it’s your time, don’t allow them to bumble around with it.
If I smell a long answer coming to this question or they don’t acknowledge that they are selling me something, I cut them off and ask one of the following:
- “Hold on there. Tell me in one sentence or less what you are selling me.”
- “Hold it right there. Yes or No; did you call me today to sell me something?”
I call this my “Tell me what I need and hurry up with it” response — it puts me in control of the conversation and focuses on closing out the conversation.
Step 2: “Why do I need what you are selling?”
This is an invitation to take between 10 and 30 seconds to deliver your “elevator pitch”: the few sentences that describe your product, the pain it addresses and the benefits my company will see from investing in it.
Step 3: “Great! Let’s take this conversation to email.”
At no point will I ever allow a cold-call to take more than 60 seconds out of my day; it simply isn’t time I have to give to a stranger trying to open my wallet and pluck out the contents.
The reason I immediately push to email for professional conversations is because:
- The Value of a Written Conversation: I want all the facts recorded in front of me through our first few conversations. An email thread will do that for me.
- Can I Shake This Guy/Gal?: Oftentimes, a sales call without a positive ending (“I’ll take it!” or “let’s do a demo”) will get categorized by the salesman as a bad opportunity in Salesforce; they simply don’t want to deal with you anymore. That’s great for me — I’m actively trying to see if I can get you to go away!
- I’m Busy: Contrary to popular belief, I do not sit around on Facebook all day waiting for sales people to call me (shocking!). So thinking that your conversation is more important than whatever you interrupted me doing is definitely not true.
An early sales mentor in my life taught me this one liner:
If they have something fantastic to sell you, then they’ll keep following up. Over. And over. And over.
It may take weeks. It may take months. But eventually my cognitive recognition of your email handle, phone number and sales pitch will take over and I will actually talk to you.