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Cold calling and Las Vegas

I like the game of craps. Depending on how you play and who you believe, the house has only a 1-3% advantage which is pretty good odds. What does this mean? I have no idea; I have to ask a mathematician. I do know that the chance of me walking away a winner is about 30% based on personal experience, which is high enough to make me want to try it again.

When I look at the odds of winning at cold calling, we should all go to Vegas. Over the last decade of sales training, clients have consistently told me of cold call to sale success rates in the single digit range. Out of every 100 pure cold calls, around a dozen appointments, and a only a few sales. To me, 5% is not much fun and takes up way too much time.

Fortunately, we have a great alternative to cold calling and it starts with knowing who needs your product or service and knowing who knows the people that need your product or service. Networking is the process of building relationships with other people who know, interact with, and can influence the people who need your product or service. Networking is expanding the range of people who know you and will connect you to your end client. However, too many people think other networkers do the right thing when giving a referral and this assumption is dangerous and disruptive to the referral process.

When you get a connection from networking, you hope that your connection actual spoke to the referral who is now awaiting your call. This hopium can lead to some really awkward moments when you reach the other person who has no idea who you are or why you are calling. My suggestion is to treat referral phone calls like cold calls and be pleasantly surprised when the referral is warm and waiting.

To place great referral calls, use good cold calling techniques and keep four simple steps in mind, one for each sentence.
Step 1: When the other person answers, introduce yourself by name only and state immediately that your mutual friend suggested that you call. Don’t ask if the person if he was expecting your call, and don’t ask if the referee warmed the path. If the path isn’t warm and your call is not expected, you are suddenly backpedalling. State that you received a suggestion to call and no more.
Step 2: Ask permission to continue the call. It’s possible that the person was impatiently awaiting your call based on a great referral and had nothing else to do on his desk but I am pretty sure all odds in Vegas are better than that being the case. The best way to ask for permission to continue: “Is this a bad time?” If it is, you’ll find that out and you can schedule a call back at the right time. If it isn’t a bad time, you’ll be given permission to continue and you may even get set up for your next statement.
Step 3: State in one clear, concise, result oriented sentence why people buy from you. The core of this sentence will be your framing statement, of which I have written pages on and would be happy to share them if you contact me. Make sure that you focus on the impact of what you do and not the process or how of what you do. No one cares at this point how you get there, they only care that you get there if they want to end up there.
Step 4: Ask if you should put your calendars together to talk about the result in your framing statement. If the referee was wrong, you want to know why and you want to find out if there is any opportunity with this person right now and not after six more calls spread over four more months. If the referee was right, then you’ll get an appointment and you are well on the way to a committed sale.

Cold calling is not a lot of fun, and the odds of finding a sale are very low because you can’t control the process. Calling referrals with the wrong opening weakens your odds because you are fighting for position. When you start out a call with the right strategy, your odds of an appointment and therefore sale are significantly better. Craps may be fun but in the end, the house usually wins because it wrote the rules and it controls the game. Control the call, and see your results grow.

For more information or ideas on making the telephone your secret weapon, subscribe to my blog and watch for announcements of our complimentary workshops on "Making the Telephone Your Secret Weapon."

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