How many times have we seen ‘just out of college’ kids carrying some books, stopping you on the pathway or door-knocking and saying: “This is not for Sale. This is part of our project. Take a look at this Encyclopaedia. If you buy this, then this book is free. And, normally this is priced at Rs. 1000 but today we are running a promotional offer and it is just Rs. 500.”
While I don’t approve off the lies they say, I am amazed at their persistence.
Have you ever seen sales people trying to sell fur toys on the roadside? I have. They would line up many toys on a parked car, keep two on their hands and wave at the passers-by.
Familiar scene, right?
Cold Calling. In case you didn’t know till now, that is what I was trying to hint at.
It’s tough. Especially when we are the ones who are making those cold calls. 🙂
I have always sold only through cold calling. No one ever called & said this to me: “Kannan, come to my office. I want to buy xyz software from you.” Unless, I have worked in the account previously, talked about some potential solutions and benefits and then they called me when they were ready for it. Such instances have been there too. But I am talking about fresh leads walking in.
So, how do we make these cold calls?
Let’s start with the question: “How do you get people to talk to you? What if they don’t buy? What do you say when they reject you?” How to spark interest? What’s in it for them?
I used to have a set of things I tell customers when I make a cold call & ask for an appointment. You can call it a script, if you wish. Only thing is that, I never had it written down anywhere except in my mind, of-course.
When I started my career 75% of my calls were cold calls. And I gate-crashed always. Those days we didn’t ask for an appointment to meet. Not for the first call or routine calls. We like to sell whether customer has a need or not. Jus’ kidding. I want you to understand the energy and mind-set behind these cold calls. I was always pumped up to meet new prospects. I cannot explain the kick I get when the customer says he likes to see more. I will be jumping as if I am on a springboard ready to dive into the swimming pool. Not to mention the kicks I get when I collect the orders. Stars would seem to be close at arm’s length and they will be falling all over me to congratulate me. Damn it, I did it again, Man!
While you are there, enjoy those moments.
Getting back, I make sure that I add some value during the routine calls. I narrate customer stories from other organizations where the customer had started seeing benefits.
Sometimes, instead of doing a blind cold call, you go with some market information. Let me explain. I had one such call. From the market sources, I understood that this company is looking for Oracle RDBMS. I didn’t have any other information. I did some home work and learnt what business they were in. How they sell to their customers, what’s their supply chain, what’s their distribution model, who are their competitors, what’s their market share, what are their achievements / accolades / awards / recognition etc, who are their key people, how big is their organization are some of the details I collected. I didn’t have Google / LinkedIn those days to do this. I learnt how to do things with bare hands, literally and rolled up my sleeves and got my hands dirty.
Then, there I was, at the customer’s office to meet the IT head.
I approached the reception desk. Then, I introduced myself & explained the purpose of my visit. I was asked to sit. I did. Then, I patiently waited. I was called in. I met the Head of IT.
He listened to me first and then asked me few questions. I answered them. The conversation went off well since I had prepared for the call. He finally said they had just recently placed an order with a vendor [he told me who that vendor was] for Oracle RDBMS along with Application development. They couldn’t have split it even if I had approached them earlier, he said.
I: No problem, Sir. I will stay in touch with you. I will be able to help <company name> whenever you have a need. I will share some inspiring customer stories with you from time to time.
Customer: Sure. Do that. Nice meeting you, Kannan!
If you look at this call, it was not an entirely cold call. That’s because, I had collected some information about the customer prior to the call. That impressed the client. What I did here at the end of the call was to create some next steps so that I build up this relationship and get mindshare.
Then, I created some lame excuses to meet him once a fortnight.
The relationship slowly grew and I earned his trust.
Accidentally one day, I talked about Lotus Notes, a workflow, communication & collaboration solution. That had inspired him. Only thing was that I didn’t know that at that point of time.
Later, he called me to buy MS Office 100 licenses when I was on a business tour to Coimbatore. Once, I was back in Chennai, I went and met him and closed that deal.
Months rolled by.
I kept meeting him on a regular basis.
Then, one fine day, I received a call from him. He said: “Kannan, do you remember, you talked about Lotus Notes long ago?”
Yes Sir, I do, I said.
He went on: “You said that Lotus Notes will reduce our communication expenses. Can you come over to my office and take me through that?”
I jumped at the opportunity.
Rest is history.
Soon, we closed a large deal. We implemented Lotus Notes [Lotus Domino] for this client across multiple locations. We negotiated a good deal for them with an ISP for connectivity.
Many months later, during one of my routine calls, he told me that they had reduced their phone bills to a great extent. And he said that our project was a big success. And went on to state openly that our project brought in more savings and much talked about in the company than their project [with another vendor] on Oracle RDBMS which failed to deliver results.
This is just one success story. There are many such stories. Some were hard won. Some were not so hard. And the rest taught us lessons.
1. Cold calling definitely helps in building a great pipeline of prospects.
2. Customers will do business with you if you have a positive attitude & never give-up.
3. Building relationship & trust are essential in Large Accounts.
4. If you are a problem solver, you will attract clients.
5. If your product/service adds value & can potentially become another feather in the cap for the buyer, the deal is yours.
#b2bsales #coldcalling #largeaccount #deals #kkrocks