9 Reasons You’re Killing the Deal Instead of Closing

9 Reasons You’re Killing the Deal Instead of Closing

People always tell me I have a natural gift with sales.

A knack, or a way with people, that leads them to one inevitable conclusion.

Closing the sale.

But I want to be honest with you. I don’t have any sort of natural gift. I was actually a rather awkward kid. Shy to talk to girls. Book smart but with zero “street” skills.

I was actually a bit of a geek in school.

Not the traits you consider with big-ticket sales, and I’ve definitely come a long way since then. And that all has to do with practice.

  • With practice you learn what you’re doing wrong.
  • With practice you refine and improve your process.
  • With practice you figure out where it’s going pear shaped.

But it can be frustrating, right?

As you push through deal after deal but you’re not able to close. You’ve got prospects blowing up in your face and you’re struggling.

Of course, when it comes to advice one size doesn’t fit each and every situation, but there’s a few hard and fast reasons you may be locking in less deals than you should be.

You didn’t spark a connection

It was in a business communication class at university where my professor told me you’ve got seven seconds to make your first impression.

Seven seconds, for a random person you’ve just met, to determine whether or not they like you. Whether they feel a connection to you.

If you want to sell effectively, people have to like you.

Because prospects buy from people they like. They open up, share, and are willing to actually talk to the people they like. If they don’t like you, you’re going to struggle.

But how?

First your presence is a powerful force.

Did anyone notice the transformation Joaquin Phoenix made in Joker?

When he finally snaps, he is instantly more likeable because he’s confident. His body language is speaking louder than words ever could. Confidence plants the seed for trust to develop.

Then comes the connection.

If you’re throwing up walls, acting aloof and uninterested, people are going to turn away.

But if you’re engaging, asking questions, and genuinely interested in your prospects (throwing a bit of your personality in too), you’ll be well placed to start forging the connection you need.

You talked too much

Simple as that.

If you don’t give a prospect the chance to get a word in edgewise, you’re killing the deal before it even gets off the ground. Your prospect wants to feel heard.

And if you’re doing all the talking, you can kiss that lead goodbye.

Sales calls are almost like a first date.

You need to ask questions.

You need to listen.

And if all goes well, maybe you get the chance for a second date.

But if you’re doing all the talking, and none of the listening, you’re going to be the one who gets ghosted.

 

You didn’t ask the right questions

I struggled with this initially, because I looked at every lead coming into my agency as a prospect. Wasting hours and hours on quotes and pitches, only to hear crickets.

In retrospect, they were never really good leads to begin with.

Because not everyone is going to fit your model for a target customer.

And that’s OK.

What you need is a plan that allows you to quickly and effectively reach this conclusion.

Some sales reps have a questionnaire they tick off, others use pre-qualifying surveys and landing pages, but when it all comes down to it, there’s three things that are key.

  1. Are you speaking to the final decision maker?
  2. Is their business ready for the product you’re selling?
  3. Do they have a budget that aligns with your rates?

If you’re not properly qualifying a prospect, things go astray fast. You need to ensure they are a good fit, before you start trying to sell them anything.

You didn’t tap into their problems

I’m going to be a bit brutal here, but your prospect doesn’t care about your product.

They don’t care about all the bells and whistles, the features you’ve worked so hard on.

What you need to realize is they’re in pain.

Something is going wrong, and that’s what’s triggered them to reach out. It’s at this part of a call you start tapping into the potential problems that may exist, asking probing questions that, you guessed it, gets your prospect talking.

Ask a question, then shut up and listen.

If I’m selling a new website, I’d ask about the results they’ve had with their current one.

If I’m selling a landing page, I’d ask about the performance of their last big campaign.

Because the client is only in it for the payoff. They don’t want the features you’re selling, they’re actually only interested in solving the problem they currently face.

 

You didn’t get to the heart of the problem

That’s the secret, what your prospect really wants to uncover.

(even though they may not realize it themselves)

Once you figure out the particular problem that exists, you need to push deeper, asking why, understanding the pains and challenges that exist.

The question I like to ask here is usually something around the lines of, “what would your business look like today if this was no longer an issue,” or “how would a solution that solves XYZ transform your current business?”

The trick, is to get your client describing this ideal scenario.

Because as they start talking about the real crux of the issue they have, it triggers a realization. You’ve guided them on a path, Inception-ized them if you like, that plants a seed in their brain. They now see and understand the consequences.

If your solution solves this core issue, and they’ve made that same realization themselves, they are in a very good place to buy what you’re selling.

 

You didn’t connect your solution to their needs

Tied into the last point, it’s your job to ensure they actually make this realization.

You need to ask the right questions, get to the heart of the problem, and make it crystal clear how your particular solution, is what they’ve been looking for.

I like to frame this part of the call like this.

“So, as I understand it, you’re looking for a solution to address ABC and XYZ, that caters to Pain #1, Pain #2 and Pain #3. Our product…”

You simply repeat back to them, almost word-for-word, everything they’ve talked about so far, but with an additional hook.

How your product solves every challenge.

It’s more than just listing features. You need to tap into the benefits your product provides, that are highly-specific and directly-related to the challenges this prospect faces.

Many deals fall apart at this stage, and if you’ve ever had someone tell you “but it’s just not what I’m looking for,” there’s a good chance you’re failing to connect your solution to their needs.

 

You overwhelm with too much info

This reason is all about overwhelm.

If you dump too much information on someone too quickly, they’ll just shut down.

The problem arises when you haven’t actually been listening to their needs, and instead of highlighting the two or three key benefits the customer needs…

You start listing off feature, after feature after feature.

You’re no longer crafting a pitch tailored to the prospect, you’re just reciting a list of info you’ve practiced, rehearsed, and it becomes too much.

They tune out, stop listening, and push back.

Because it sounds too hard, and they don’t have the energy or effort to do it.

What you need to do, is focus on their core needs, and show them exactly what they need to hear, and that you were actually paying attention when they talked.

If you can limit your pitch to what they need, once they get a handle on that you can start to try an upsell. Don’t do it right out of the gate.

You put too much pressure on

High pressure sales tactics only serve one outcome.

To burn your bridges with that particular prospect.

If you’re not taking your cues from the customer as you walk them through your sales pipeline, you’re probably going at the wrong pace. And unfortunately, that usually means you’re going too fast, and the prospect on the line, is feeling the pressure.

Not only does it leave a bad taste in their mouth, it reeks of desperation.

And that’s the last thing you want to do when closing a sale.

If a prospect feels like you don’t have their best interests at heart, you’ll lose the sale.

Simple as that.

 

You didn’t ask for the sale

Finally, and this is probably the biggest mistake you could make.

You didn’t ask for the sale.

There’s a natural point in every sales call where a particular prospect has all the information they need. You’ve tapped into their needs, found the heart of their problem, and presented your solution as the ideal way to solve every pain point they have.

Here is where you need to stop talking, and make your close.

If you fail to hit this point, and keep talking and talking and talking, you can talk yourself out of a deal. Raising potential issues that weren’t even previously considered, or uncovering additional problems your solution simply doesn’t solve.

Learn to read the room, and when the time is right be confident in asking for the sale.

 

Think now back on all of those sales calls that perhaps didn’t go quite as you planned. And be honest with yourself. Are you guilty of making any of these mistakes?

Heck, I know I am. But awareness is the first step, and once you know what to look out for, you can take a measured approach in avoiding each of these nine reasons you’re killing the deal. Do it effectively, and you’ll quickly start booking a heck of a lot more business.

Keep up the great work,

Do You Give Clients a Chance to Get a Word In?

Are You Giving Clients a Chance to Get a Word In

You’d think extroverted, chatty sales reps would be good to promote your business, right?

Sure, it sounds like a good thing.

But the biggest problem with a fast-talking sales person is they never shut up.

And that’s a concern, especially when your prospects don’t feel heard.

Ever have a conversation with a loved one and get distracted…

Quickly followed by a “are you even listening to me?”

You know how that story ends.

In this day and age, there’s no place for a pushy, aggressive sales rep.

Not over the long term anyway.

You need to focus less on rattling off the sales script, and get the customer talking.

Stop reciting benefits and features, and actually figure out the problem a prospect has.

Start putting their needs above your own, and pitching a solution they truly need.

That’s when your pipeline gets exciting, and your customers become your biggest fans.

 

Traditional sales training pushes too hard

Watch any movie, from Boiler Room to the Wolf of Wall Street and you’ll see this in action.

Young, hungry sales reps are brought in, and turned into “killers”

With aggressive sales training, high targets, and an atmosphere with zero customer respect.

Pity that Jordan ended up in prison, and most boiler room call centers are borderline illegal.

Because while these sales tactics do work, on a particular type of clientele…

They don’t provide a foundation for any sort of decent customer relationship.

So, what’s the alternative?

 

Put the customer at the heart of the sale

And the easiest way to make the customer the center of a sales call is to listen.

To ask the kind of questions that get them talking.

Get them opening up about their needs, and the motivations behind the deal.

I like to ask prospects questions like…

  • “Tell me, what brought on your call today?”
  • “Explain the help you need from me, in your own words…”
  • “What other solutions have you tried?”
  • “What worked well, what didn’t work so well?”
  • “What does the ideal solution look like for you and your business?”
  • “Is there anyone else we should loop into these discussions?”
  • “What else can you tell me that’s relevant to this project?”

Get them taking, then shut up, sit back and start listening.

Tap the power of the strong silent type

Ever have a friend who was always called the strong, silent type?

There’s a simple psychological technique at play here.

The words you speak have value, and the more you talk, the more you dilute it.

On a sales call, you need to slow down, and speak less.

Because the quality of what you say, is more important than the quantity.

I’ll admit, I struggle with this…

When I proposed to my wife it was such a machine gun barrage of words it took her a few seconds to actually process what just happened.

We laugh about it now, but I do regret not taking a breath first, and slowing the heck down.

Same logic applies to your sales calls.

Too much talking makes you appear nervous and unconfident.

Slow down, speak less, and make your words count.

 

Get comfortable with an extended silence

It seems weird, but I like to play a game when I’m doing a sales call.

Of course, this works best when you’re already on a good run, and the prospect is happy.

You need to get comfortable with silence.

In negotiations it’s a common tactic, as a power play to get the other side to open up

But it also works in sales.

Because silence makes people uncomfortable, so they get nervous and start talking.

Talking more than they normally would.

And when your client is talking this is a good thing, because you listen.

Especially when they’re off-balance.

Because that’s when a hidden motivation or pain points comes up.

And you can use this extra insight to bring the deal home.

 

Don’t play all your cards at once

Now I get a lot of flak for this here in Asia, where things run on “local time”

But growing up punctuality was a big deal for me.

It was a sign of respect, both of your time and those waiting to meet you.

I’ll admit, traffic has often gotten the better of me.

And there have been times where I’ve run meetings far over time.

But when I started looking back, my most successful meetings were the short ones.

Where I was on time, we hit the key points, and I left perhaps even 5 or 10 minutes early.

When I started analyzing why these meetings worked best, I found the key.

I wasn’t playing all my cards at once.

I’d go in, (being punctual and all), and we’d talk about the key issues.

Then, I’d have to run to another meeting and I’d leave… but with a promise.

To send them an email on the points we hadn’t got to,

Or the extra info they’d asked for.

It created a kind of a required follow up, that allowed me to continue hitting touch points.

While demonstrating I was in fact, highly responsive and could deliver on my promises.

It also allowed clients the time to debrief themselves after our meeting,

And come back with any questions of their own.

Of course, this strategy did extend the sales process somewhat,

But the meetings I ran like this had much higher conversions.

So, don’t play all your cards at once.

Leave your clients wanting more.

And close them in the follow-up meeting.

 

When I approach a sales call these days I’m aiming to speak less than a third of the time.

My goal is to get the client talking,

Use extended silences and think carefully in all of my responses,

And give prospects a reason to read my follow up emails,

So, I can close them in another meeting.

It may lack the glitz and glamor of the sales floors we all imagine on Wall Street.

But by giving clients a chance to get a word in, you’ll quickly figure out how to sell to them.

And once you do that, well my friend, that’s when things get exciting.

Here’s to your sales success.

 

Much love

Stop Making Mistakes and Start Selling Like a Pro

When I started in sales I made a lot of mistakes.

Enthusiastic and a tad over-eager, I shudder when I think back to some of my first sales calls.

The good news though, is this.

You may think sales comes naturally to some people…

And I’ll agree, it does come easier to some than others.

But sales is a skill you can learn.

A process you can master, no matter your background or how introverted you think you are.

And with a little practice, you’ll start landing deal, after deal, after deal.

The trick?

Stop making mistakes.

I’ve personally made all of these mistakes (and probably more) at one point in my career or another, and it was only once I realized and corrected the error, did things start to look up.

 

You need to prepare beforehand

 

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Of course, you probably already know the customer’s name, but it shouldn’t stop there.

Take 15 minutes and do your due diligence before any sales call.

Information is power in these calls, remember that.

Ideally, you’re looking to answer a few pre-qualifying questions.

I’ll start with the prospect, and get some background on their role in the organization (are they the final decision maker, or is someone else involved).

Then comes the company, I try to estimate the revenues and size of the business (so I don’t underprice), and also get a feel for what they are like to work for.

Glassdoor is worth checking too, I’m looking for any “red flags” I need to investigate further on the call, and their employees are a pretty good indicator of what the business is like.

And of course, I need to decide if I think the solution I have will be a good fit.

 

You need to organize your wild cards

 

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Second part of the preparation is what I call my wild cards.

You don’t want a tricky question to throw off your confidence, or your rhythm…

So, you also need to be ready for any question the client may throw at you.

At a minimum, have things like your pricing, FAQs, testimonials available right there.

Think about potential objections the customer might have, and how you will counter.

All of this kind of stuff, sit down, think it out, and plan how you’ll overcome it.

But don’t forget the wild cards.

Because I already know the client (from step 1), I like to look for a few extra things.

These are my wild cards…

  • See if they’ve any public social media accounts, to find a common interest
  • See if the company has been in the news recently, and learn what it was about
  • See if there’s any breaking news in their industry, or any new emerging trends
  • See if there’s any case study’s or examples where I’ve worked with a similar client
  • See if there’s any quick wins I can recommend to the client, right then and there

Armed with a few extra tips, insights and proof, I have everything I need to dazzle a prospective client, right from the get-go in that first meeting.

 

You need to control the meeting

 

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When talking to decision makers, it’s important to control the conversation.

Because they’re used to taking charge, and can de-rail your meeting if you’re not careful.

My advice?

Be confident, and step in quickly at the start to set the stage.

It looks like this.

Thank them for their time, and tell them exactly what to expect.

“Thanks John for the call today.

To make the best use of these 30 minutes I’ve prepared a few questions that’ll keep us on track, and give me a good handle on what you’re struggling with.

And of course, leaving plenty of time after to answer any and all questions you may have on our products, the business, or anything else on your mind. Sound good?”

Leading in like this lets you take control, without being too pushy.

And the best part, you’ve set the stage to ask the questions you need, to guide that particular prospect on the path you need them to follow.

That is, making the sale.

 

You need to ask the right questions

 

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Key to all of this actually working, is your ability to ask the right questions.

Your job, is to ask, then shut up.

Sit back, and listen.

With the right questions, your prospect will quickly start opening up, talking about their needs, issues, and any problems they’ve had before, so you can do two things.

First, overcome the specific objections they’ve got in their mind.

Second, position yourself as the authority, and the ideal solution for their needs.

I tend to ask questions like…

  • “Tell me, what brought on your call today?”
  • “Explain the help you need from me, in your own words…”
  • “What other solutions have you tried?”
  • “What worked well, what didn’t work so well?”
  • “What does the ideal solution look like for you and your business?”
  • “Is there anyone else we should loop into these discussions?”
  • “What else can you tell me that’s relevant to this project?”

I’ve got a list of questions just like these, that I write up before every client call in my notebook (I’m weird like that, I like writing things down).

Then I make sure we get them answered on the call or in the meeting.

 

You need to let the client talk

 

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I’m as guilty of this as the next person, but if you remember nothing else, remember this.

Silence gets clients talking.

Ask your questions, then shut up, sit back, and let the client talk.

I know, I know…

It can be very easy to switch into “sales” mode at this point,

Rattling off all of the virtues of your product or the pitch you’ve prepared for hours.

Please, please, do not do this.

You need to let the client talk.

The client doesn’t care about the pitch, or the hundred other things you prepared to say.

The client cares about one thing.

Their pain.

And to close the deal, you need the client to believe your solution solves their pain.

Your job is to listen.

Let them tell you about their business, the challenges they’re having.

Once they’re done, you’ve got all the ammunition you need to set your solution as the ideal.

To tailor your pitch to their exact pain…

And your product as the solution to overcome the challenges they’re facing.

Get it right, and your numbers will go through the roof.

 

You need to ask for the sale

 

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Notice I say “ask” here and not push.

Pushy sales tactics don’t work, so stop the scaremongering and all the other nonsense.

You don’t need to use pushy sales to sell effectively,

Especially if you’ve got a good product you believe in.

Because if you’ve done your job on the call, the ask becomes the next logical step.

They already know it’s coming.

You’ve heard all about their pains and learnt what they need.

You’ve repositioned your solution as the answer to their needs.

You’ve wowed them with your knowledge of their business and the industry.

It’s crystal-clear at this stage WHY they should buy, so don’t overthink it.

Ask for the sale.

“What day works best to get you started?”

“Here’s the purchase link, let’s reconnect Tuesday and I’ll walk you through the initial steps”

“Great, so that’s it. It’ll be $xxx for [solution], how would you like to pay?

Of course, not everyone is ready for that right then and there, and in these cases I put the ball in their court, giving them an easy out if that’s what they’re after.

“Right, so how would you like to proceed?”

They may need to loop in a decision maker, need time or more information from you for a final approval, or simply prefer to sleep on it and get back to you tomorrow.

Don’t sweat it, if the sale is meant to be (and you’ve done everything on your side), you’re in the best possible position to close the deal.

You don’t need to be pushy about it.

 

You need to prioritize lead generation

 

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Finally, and this is another that I’m guilty of, but it’s important.

Lead gen needs to play a constant role in your business.

If you want to build any sort of reliability in your income…

You can’t only search for clients when times are bad.

Clients can almost “smell” the desperation when you NEED to close a deal to make rent,

Which not only scares them off, it puts you at a significant disadvantage in the negotiations.

Your goal, is to have an abundance of new clients coming in,

Every week, every month,

So that you’re never in a position where one sales call is make or break, do or die.

Take an hour or so each week, and set that aside for prospecting.

You’ll start to build a solid pipeline of new business,

And once the sales start rolling in, you’ll be glad you did.

 

Phew. So that’s it. Learn these lessons well and make sure you’re not making any of these mistakes in your sales calls. It may be an adjustment from where you are now, but put a focus on it, and trust me, your bottom line will thank you.

Much love,

The Power of LinkedIn Connections to Kickstart a Business

the power of linkedin to kickstart your business

Hitting “publish” on a new website is exciting, but…

You need to get the word out.

Otherwise no one really knows it’s there.

It’s like opening a new store in the middle of the desert.

You ain’t gunna get any customers without any marketing.

Now, I was extremely fortunate with my agency, building on the work I’d done for a few past copywriting clients, I had a couple of quick wins and I was cruising on easy street as they sent me a bunch of new leads.

But a couple of months in, business started slowing down.

Word of mouth marketing was working, but referrals just weren’t enough.

And I was still bootstrapping, lacking a big budget to launch a campaign with a bang.

So, I circled back to my network, and decided to double down on a known quantity to drum up some new business.

My network.

 

Tapping LinkedIn for Your Business

As I write this it’s got me thinking I need to reboot this particular gem of a strategy in the coming months.

It’s quite powerful when done right, and I’ll keep you posted how it goes with a new update just as soon as I am done.

But back to this…

I chose LinkedIn for this experiment for a couple of reasons.

It was way better than cold emailing, and as I was just getting my agency off the ground I didn’t have a massive portfolio or decades of experience backing me up to help me win a bunch of new business.

What I had, was a big group of friends.

People I’d connected to at events, other expats, colleagues and former study buddies, even a few old bosses in there.

And that’s a powerful thing.

Plus, I figured if anyone was going to give me the time of day, it’d be someone who already knew me.

Because we already had rapport, so I could jump straight into the “ask” (without having to put a lot of time in, getting to know each potential target)…

HINT: If you’re planning on using this approach with someone who doesn’t know you, it’s not going to get the same results. You need to butter the prospect up first, the prospect has to value your opinion, feel like you actually care about them, and see you as an authority. Otherwise, they’re not going to give up their valuable time, talking to you. 

 

Approaching this thing with a plan in mind…

Well, it wasn’t rocket science.

I downloaded a list of my connections (just head into Settings > Getting a copy of your data, and you can grab these all here).

At the time there were about 1,200 in my list, and I knew I needed to cull these.

Then came the filtering.

I was looking for business owners, preferably in Thailand.

Line by line, as tedious as this sounds, I deleted anyone who didn’t fit my ideal client profile in the excel file.

For the people who looked interesting, I had a look at their profile, and did some digging.

Not spending long on each one, just enough to help me make a gut decision – “Would they be interested?”

Granted, this did take a couple of hours, but it was worth it.

I wanted the people I was messaging to be my ideal clients.

And as the goal was a free consult, I didn’t want to spend the next 3 months tied up on calls and website reviews.

So I was a little brutal culling the list.

When it was done, there were 55 names.

55 people in my network (1st degree connections), I believed would benefit from an upgrade to their website.

It was time for the outreach…

 

Actually reaching out to my list…

Even though I had all their emails, I decided to stick to LinkedIn for the messages.

Remember, we’re talking 2015 here.

This was before the platform became a haven for spammers, and I didn’t want to get lost in their email inbox.

If I were to do it all again, I’d do the same now, but with a careful eye on the response rate.

Potentially switching to emails or even a WhatsApp / SMS to do something different if I wasn’t getting the messages read.

Remember, these are people I know (or am comfortable enough with them to message them directly).

You should be targeting the same kind of people.

So back in my spreadsheet, I added three columns with the titles.

  1. Outreach date.
  2. Follow up date.
  3. Notes.

Very simple, nothing too fancy about it.

I just wanted to track who I’d messaged, remember to send a follow up a few days later, and have a space to put in any notes or comments along the way.

Here’s the message I sent out.

Today, I would

  • Personalize this even more and shorten the message as we’re all on our phones anyway.
  • Drop in some emojis, I like these little guys just don’t overdo it (for god’s sake).
  • Lose the company links, and maybe see how a direct booking link to a service like Calendy works.

So it’d be like.

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Hey [Frank], jealous of your Fiji trip 👌👌 we should grab a beer so I can hear all about it.

But the reason for my message – I’m launching a new website service, and we’re doing free reviews of existing sites. Thought of you as I was putting this together mate, goal is to give you some quick wins to make more bookings/sales/whatever.

Interested? 

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If you make it as easy as possible to reply, that’s when your prospects hit you back.

Right, so next steps.

Depending on their reply, my targets were either…

  • Not keen (so I’d say thanks and have a good one)
  • Keen (so I’d review their site, and organize a call so I can show them what I think)

The ultimate goal being to position myself as the expert, so they know who to call when they do want to make a change.

And they did call.

Though I will say this.

The way I write my emails and messages isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s fine.

I’m not trying to be something I’m not, or to make everyone happy.

I send messages like I talk and I don’t work well hiding behind a “face” or a persona.

I just do me.

And it almost becomes a filter to eliminate people who don’t like my style.

And that’s fine, because the people who do respond to it, connect even better.

Those are the customers I want.

 

So, how’d this whole thing go?

Looking over the numbers, I sent 42 messages.

With the exception of one, they all got read (you can see in message if it’s read or not).

Seven of my friends got back to me asking for feedback.

I handled three over email, five over the consultation calls I wanted.

The reason I wanted calls is they’re more personal.

You can cover a heck of a lot more than typing out a mammoth email…

But you can also ask questions, figuring out what they need, what they’re after, and positioning your business as the logical solution to their problems.

Oh, and bonus points if you can keep it light and make them laugh.

Now, a couple of my friends were looking for services I didn’t provide, a couple of people were just looking for free advice, and one wasn’t in a place to make a change. Which is fine….

Because I landed three new clients out of it.

THREE FRIKKEN CLIENTS.

Three new website projects on the books, reflecting a whopping 7% conversion rate on my outreach.

Oh, and zero ad spend.

All up, it was just over 10 hours work.

  • 2 hours refining the list of prospects and writing the messages.
  • 2 hours messaging everyone on the list.
  • 5 hours prepping and doing the “quick consultation calls”
  • And about an hour of admin, coordinating timings, following up, that sort of thing.

That’s a damn good return on investment.

Especially as a bootstrapped entrepreneur.

I wasn’t risking money on a “big and scary” campaign.

It didn’t even take that much time.

And you could even space the outreach out if you’re worried about too much work coming in, too fast.

It’s entirely up to you.

I just know that it works.

And that’s why I need to start doing this again (AND YOU SHOULD TOO).

Much love,

It’s Time to Release the Cold-Calling Sales Beast

It’s Time to Release the Cold-Calling Sales Beast

Tele-frikken-marketers are the plague of the sales industry…

Seeming to have a knack for dialing in at the most perfectly impossible times.

Or maybe that’s just one of the latest sales hacks I’ve yet to learn.

But I can tell you this…

For the longest time I hated cold calling.

So when I started my agency, I didn’t do it.

Telling myself I was above that, there were “better” things to spend my time on.

What I was missing though was quite important, because cold calling is an incredible technique when it’s done right.

And I should know, I spent several months in University working sales on the phones.

 

My Sink or Swim Intro to Cold Calling


via GIPHY

I thought I’d be a natural on the phones, I was a confident kid.

From speeches to presentations, I nailed it (at least in my head).

But on the phones, it was just a bit too scripted.

I’d rattle off the pitch like a hyperactive mumble-rapper…

Even if the caller on the other end of the line could understand me, there was no chance to get a word in edgewise.

Eventually, through sheer numbers alone, I started making sales.

I slowed down a bit too, once the nerves wore off.

And my sales figures started growing, but it was a grind.

 

The Pain of Being a Telemarketer

Sure, people talk about fears and doubts when you’re cold calling.

Those who were scared of getting on a call, because they were sick of getting rejected.

The others, who didn’t like being a salesperson in the first place, and hesitated instead of pushing for the close.

For me though, the hardest part was the sheer volume.

I’d speak to more than 100 people in a four-hour shift.

In the following months I clocked over 10,000 calls (I remember this, it excited me at the time).

But I hated it.

Falling asleep with sales scripts still running through my head.

Losing my voice after being on the phone on back-to-back double-shifts.

And being so worn out from the constant barrage of selling all I wanted to do when I got home was curl up in my bed and ignore the world.

So, understandably, I decided to throw in the towel, and declare cold calling to be the devil.

cold calling is the devil

 

Realizing I Needed to Start Dialing

More that ten years down the line I’d come full circle.

Perhaps cold calling wasn’t the devil.

I’d just been to a Wolf of Wall St event in Bangkok, re-watched the movie and was pumped.

And as I looked at a list of strategies to drum up some new clients, it was right there.

Get back on the phones.

But I knew I’d never be able to grind out hundreds of calls a day.

That would be madness, so I decided to start small.

Here’s how I did it.

(HINT: If I can do this, you’ve got no excuse)

 

Reigniting a Passion for the Phones.

For starters, I set a simple goal.

A covenant with myself if you like (yep, that stuck with me from Yes Man too, though the book was far more awesome than the movie).

Make three calls a day, and make 15 calls a week.

I’d spend 15-20 minutes on this a day, and regroup after a month to see the results.

It wasn’t pretty at first.

I didn’t have a clear script, and I struggled through the calls.

I’d just kind of wing it, and it ended up being awkward more often than not.

My Skype credits kept running out, once it happened mid-call which was a nightmare…

After a couple of weeks, no wins or even any decent leads, I’d all but given up.

I stopped selling.

But not one to give up a promise to myself, (and risk the consequences), I kept calling.

But instead of trying in vain to make a pitch, I started asking questions.

I got genuinely interested in what they were doing, and working on…

  • I asked them about their business.
  • I asked them about their website, and the results they had seen.
  • I asked them about their struggles, and what help they were looking for.

And where I could, I offered my thoughts, giving value with no strings attached.

You can imagine my surprise when a client I was on the line with told me to send him a quote.

He wanted a new website, and I was the guy to do it.

I started getting real business out of these calls.

It was a damn good feeling.

 

Looking back, here’s what I learnt:

  1. Don’t try to make a sale AT ALL, just focus on giving some value.
  2. Don’t get caught up on the failures, my goal was only ever number of calls.
  3. Don’t overthink it, it’s just a phone call for Christ’s sake.

 

 

SNEAK PEEK: My Cold Call Process

At the highest level this does look rather simple, but it works.

Plain and simple.

But often, it’s not the technique that’s missing, it’s just us getting started.

Picking up the phone and making some calls.

Here’s what my process quickly started to look like…

 

OVERALL GOAL: Get the client to agree to a 30 minute “free website consultation”

(The idea here is to demonstrate value and build trust without trying to make a sale).

STEP 1: Research the prospect and the website

(The idea here is to find 2-3 quick wins you can share on the call. Maybe the above the fold copy needs to be reworked, or there’s no CTA in sight, the contact details are missing or whatever it is. You want to demonstrate the value you bring, no strings attached).

STEP 2: Find an angle that connects you two

(The idea here is to turn a cold prospect into a warm lead. I actually searched prospects that I had something in common with, be it we recently attended the same conference, have a mutual connection, or whatever it is. You want to demonstrate you’re not a volume caller, this is a personalized call). 

STEP 3: Pick up the phone and call…

Me:      Hey there, this is Travis from Studio Digita, is this [prospect name]?

Client:  Yep that’s me…(cut in here, not rudely, but just to take charge of the call)

Me:      Wicked, now I won’t take more than a minute of your time, but…

            …I saw your booth at XYZ Convention…
            …I saw you pop into my feed after [mutual friend] did SOMETHING…
            …I saw your pitch at “some industry event”…

            And when I took a look at your website, I noticed a couple of quick wins.

            Things you could fix FREE, and I just wanted to reach out and give you a heads up.

            Have you got a few minutes now, or would you prefer I shoot these over on email?

 

From here, there’s three outcomes.

  1. Sorry not interested. That’s cool, accept the “no” and move to your next call.  
  2. They’re busy to talk, but have confirmed to send the details on email.
  3. They’re keen to hear me out right away, so I run them through what I think.

No matter what happens, be courteous, energetic, and remember to mind your P’s and Q’s (say please and thank you).

If they are headed down path number 2 or 3, I also normally ask if they’d like to connect on social media, they say yep, and we’re done for now.

All up, one of these calls takes just a few minutes.

The magic to all of this is the follow up, you want to build a relationship, and position yourself as the “helpful expert”

THAT MEANS NO HARD, PUSHY SALES NONSENSE.

Keep it light.

Connect with them on social media, maybe comment on a few of their posts and try to stay “top-of-mind” for the next couple of weeks.

If I read something about their industry I’ll flick it through to them.

Once you’ve connected 4 or 5 times, this is when you say something like…

“Hey, so I was thinking. We found a couple of quick wins the last time I looked at your site, do you think there’d be a value to jump on say a 30 minute call to go over it in depth, and see what other improvements there may be?”

I found almost 70 percent of people at this stage are interested to hear more.

Then it’s on you to use the call to demonstrate even more value, start learning about their pain points, and oh I don’t know, perhaps start positioning yourself for the sale, as the handy expert who can fix all of these problems for them, taking the weight right off their shoulders?

BAM. Sales done.

Just remember, the key to becoming a cold calling beast isn’t quantity, it’s quality.

Take the time to prepare for your calls, properly screen every prospect and ensure they fit your target client.

Then it’s just a matter of picking up the phone, to start dialing.

You’ll be surprised the impact a few new relationships with the right people can make on your bottom line.

Much love,