The way we sell has changed dramatically over the course of the thirty plus years I’ve spent in the profession. When I started, the major focus was on cold calling; reaching out to potential customers to start the engagement.

But the world has changed and, especially since the advent of the internet, customers now buy in a completely different way. They research more, they look for recommendations and cold calling isn’t as well received as it used to be.

Which means that, as a sales person, we rely on incoming leads far more than we used to.

That’s all well and good provided you have enough incoming, warm leads, but what if you don’t?

You warm call. It’s perfectly acceptable to reach out to people who may have visited your website but haven’t yet bought anything, but you have to do it the right way and that means adding value in the first few seconds of the call.

So how do you achieve this?

1. Look for “good fit” prospects

Who are your best customers? What is it about them that makes them a good fit for you? Maybe they face similar challenges, maybe they operate in specific markets, maybe they’re a particular size or age. If you take time to review your existing customers and identify their similarities, you’ll know what to look for.

2. Do your research

If you don’t know what’s important to a prospect, you can’t add value.

How long have they been in business? How many staff do they have? Where are they based? What value do they provide to their own customers? This might sound obvious, but it will help you understand the sort of issues they may be facing.

3. Practice your opening lines

You only have a few seconds to grab someone’s attention and explain how you might be able to help them, so take time to develop a powerful opening statement.

4. Be authentic

Be yourself, not that stranger you think the prospect might want to talk to. A confident (but not pushy) approach will gain more respect and putting the contact at ease will help them trust you more quickly.

5. Prepare what you want to discuss

Have you seen a recent news story about them, or have they announced new products or won new customers? If you make reference to something that’s really important to the prospect, you’ll demonstrate that you’re genuinely interested in them.

6. Use open questions

Open questions, those that can’t be answered by a simple “yes” or “no” response encourage the prosect to talk about their world and they are far more likely to identify issues that you may be able to help them address.

7. Look out for problems

Your open questions should be designed to help you identify problems that you can help solve. This is your chance to provide real value and suggest ways that your own product or service can really help.

8. Keep the call short

When you find a problem that you think you can solve, it’s easy to get overly enthusiastic and talk too much, so make sure you respect the prospect’s time. If you think you need more than a few minutes, ask them if they have time to discuss more and be prepared to send more information if that’s their preference.

9. Follow up

80% of sales are made on the fifth or subsequent conversation, so make sure you follow up promptly and regularly. Even if they don’t respond, because you’ve already spoken to them, they’re more likely to at least read your follow up email, and you can always make another call later.

There’s nothing wrong with being persistent, but avoid coming across as pushy. So don’t be afraid of calling or emailing several times, but spread these attempts out over a couple of weeks. And try varying when you call or email. You never know what the prospect’s diary looks like.

10. Define what needs to happen next

Every call you make or email that you send should move the sales process forward or help you decide if they’re not a good fit for you. Suggest one thing that you’d like the prospect to do next so that they know what’s coming next. Even if they don’t actually do it, at least you’re still building a relationship.

Cold calling is nowhere near as effective as it used to be but it doesn’t mean that any form of unsolicited approach won’t work.

If you take the time to look for prospects who are a good fit and then offer them real value, then you’re much more likely to achieve the success you want.

Do you need to improve your warm selling skills? Then perhaps one of our programmes might help.

About the Author
Phil Sayers is the founder of Proten Sales Development, a career salesman, sales manager with experience across a diverse range of industries from building materials to design services, accounting to satellite communications and most recently was the Sales & Marketing Director and Interim CEO of a UK cloud accounting software vendor. He loves to help train and coach salespeople and teams become successful and works with B2B businesses helping them to sell more, sell often and build better businesses.