If you’re in any type of sales role, you’ve probably been told that when your business is quiet, you need to pick up the phone book (who looks here for anything anymore?) and start dialing for dollars – trying to generate leads by contacting anyone and everyone. Regardless of your industry, this is arguably the worst way for you to spend your time.
Cold calling works on the percentage principle: for every 99 “Nopes” you might get one “Sure.” There is no phone script, no telephone manner, and no client list that can give you outstanding results through cold calling. It’s basically a way to look like you’re doing something positive for the business.
Call blocking, call display, and severe cases of “Telephone Testicles” – the condition where the person on the phone feels empowered enough to say what they are actually thinking, even though they’d probably never say it in a face-to-face environment – the odds are so stacked against you that even if you do make a sale, the energy cost it takes to get there is enough to make you want to hang yourself with the phone cord. ( I know… who still uses a corded phone?)
Instead of cold calling, the best use of your time is to get out and about, marketing yourself and your business and creating connections with your target audience. Talk to people wherever you go. If you are in line at the grocery store, strike up a conversation with the people around you. On the bus, chat with the people sharing your ride. Join local networking events, volunteer your time at causes you believe in, and go places where people are going: if there is a warm body that speaks the same language as you, you are far more likely to be successful in a face-to-face encounter than over the phone.
Here’s the trick I use to generate leads in person:
The Trick – Ask what they do.
The Secret – Listen to what they say.
Everyone loves to talk about themselves, and they usually don’t like to hear about you. So instead of chatting about mundane topics like the weather, or controversial subjects like politics – ask what they do, and listen to what they say. You will get a conversation started, and this is better – and easier – than any cold call you could ever make. Don’t try to make a sale out of it. Don’t pretend to listen while waiting to verbally vomit all over them what you want to do with, for, or to them – just listen. Your goal in networking is not to make a sale; it’s to make an impression and a contact. Creating connections is the path to long term success.
Your prospective clients don’t want to meet you on the phone, but since you took the time to listen to them, and asked for their business card to contact them later, you can call them with confidence and discuss a business idea that might work for both of you. And that’s a lot more fun than trying to keep them on the phone long enough to launch your sales pitch.
Warm Calls Convert. Faster.
Warm calling your connections means you’ll have more calls answered, and the majority of the time you’ll find the person on the other end might actually want to chat with you. Be professional and don’t sales them to death. Listen to what they have to say, and if you have an appropriate solution, share it with them.
Now go out there and try talking to people face-to-face. And remember to listen to what they are saying.