Do you know what is more nerve-wracking than dialing a decision-maker directly? The gatekeepers.
You are sitting at your desk – or on your canapé in today’s remote work, hearing the phone dial and pondering how to act and what will happen if the call is answered.
“What is her personality like?”,”How does he sound?” “Does he have a big baritone?” or “Is he in a good mood?” all kinds of questions run through my mind. “Will I be able to retain her attention for more than 15 seconds?”,”Will I forget what I have to say?”
I have been in this cold call business for some ten months now with no prior experience whatsoever, and I wish to share some views and observations worth noting. Note: the experience is based on high-end approaches where we intermediate between innovative products and typically top-level executives at medium or large companies.
According to the internet, cold calling is the solicitation of a potential customer who had no prior interaction with you (the salesperson). Here is my quite exaggerated analogy: a person looking in a particular direction and you (the salesperson) taking a giant leap right in front of this person’s view. To make them keep watching that direction, which now has YOU! As the object of attention (mind you, unsolicited) or look away, is all up to you.
Following this analogy, if your goal is to have the person’s attention, you have to make sure you’re wearing something colorful, referring to a positive and cheerful tone. Have a little dance up your sleeve – something to stimulate their interest, i.e., the message, even your confidence, and then lastly, you had better come with a little gift in your pocket, and that is your offer or solution.
I am not necessarily painting a clown or a magician in this scenario, mind you some CEOs, CFOs or Quality managers could be terribly coulrophobic. The idea is to ensure you catch and retain your target’s attention until the deal is closed. Yes, the deal has got to be closed.
I will be highlighting three kinds of situations I have encountered atop three main things I have learned these past months that I think are crucial.
The first of the three situations is what I call “the gatekeeper who is the decision-maker.” This statement is both sarcastic and true at the same time.
The former is when you dial to speak to your desired contact, and the gatekeeper out of sheer discretion decides whether or not you are worth anyone’s time in the company. So they announce that your reason for the call cannot be met at the company at all. Typically in such a case, you would have done one out of the following; called at the low-mood-hour of the gatekeeper, messed up your pitch as a result of not sounding convincing enough, or your unwillingness to answer the gatekeeper’s in most cases, whimsical query.
I always felt heartbroken upon hearing this for the first few seconds. I would always take it personally and then later realize that it’s never an attack of some sort on me or my company at all, but an opportunity to assess the call and get back to dialing.
The latter is where the gatekeeper is a partner to the person you want to get to, and so would be an equally good target. A personal assistant, or in some rare cases, the same person you are dreaming of talking to themselves. I have never gotten over the shock I get when the prospect is the first to answer the phone I don’t expect them to. The good thing is, this person always tends to be gracious.
The second situation is “the never-ending journey to the decision-maker.” The pinball is all I can think of when I am caught up here. You are dealt with this card when you want to talk to John Doe (you do not have a name). The toss of it all and the mental energy it requires.
Usually, the gatekeeper is not the nicest because you are giving them an extra task of finding you the person (whether by their memory or PC search). However, they do their job of helping extend you to your woman, you get to talk to her, and she tells you maybe you should find Tom instead.
You are led to Tom by phone or email. So confident Tom is the guy, you say thanks gleefully and get to calling Tom who is pleasant but sounds a bit exhausted because it’s 3 pm. Mr. Tom hears you out, “sorry, miss, I am not in the best position to help you; maybe you should talk to Dick.” The next day, Mr. Dick is happy to talk to me at 10 am, but unfortunately, he is not directly related to my solution either, and guess what happens to the little internal pinball?
Inasmuch as this is not the best of experiences to be wound among the company, it is quite expected because not having a reference person only leaves the target company with a little less sense of responsibility to help you.
All hope is undoubtedly not lost. In my next call, I am reasonably more precise with my conversations and my intentions right from the gatekeeper. I make him understand what my offer is in summary. It piques his interest a little more than before, and with his understanding, he can better assist me. My problem may not necessarily be solved instantly. Still, his recommendation will be better this time, and the dynamics of this pinball are definitely changed, as well as my chances of meeting the light at the end of my tunnel.
“The happy ever even before.” The 3rd scenario and my favorite, of course. It is like the love at first sight in the Mexican telenovelas-you feel it in your gut that you are already signing a contract with this person. Right from the first call, they are excited and happy to talk to you as though they have known you for years. One man quite out of the blue added me on Facebook not long ago (it’s always a great form of feedback).
The best case is when they are highly interested in your offer, all of its details, and the possible ways forward. However, this company might not finally procure your solution for one reason or the other despite their fascination with your product. Nevertheless, the excellent relationship and rapport built at this point is undoubtedly a treasure and a step in the right direction, don’t forget that!
And for your last three sips of the coffee, a few practical insights
Get used to rejection
Going back to the almost-clown analogy, you have to be prepared to be found annoying and inconsiderate for coming to stand in front of me with an all-too-bright appearance and a claimed little gift. “I don’t care for entertainment right now” (We don’t think we need any more services or products in the company), “Do you not know that I am mourning my daughter?” (we are having a financial crisis) and “my attention was on those three birds perched on that branch singing that sweet song” (we are busy with other things).
Put yourself in their shoes. We don’t always want to have something new introduced to us; whether it’s a new nanny or a new school. We are fine where we are. When this happens, the chance of being recorded as a selfish salesman is very high, and what you will be is rejected! And rejection too is okay.
Call between 10 am and 1 pm
The next thing so simple is the time to call. I say it is easy because it is applied in our personal lives all the time. You know you do not phone your lecturer from school at 10 pm, neither do you call your mother-in-law at 3 am. An extension of this will be times of the day and their natural progression considering the role of your call target. If you’re calling, a big guy be rest assured to get him around 10-11 and around 1-2 pm relatively but definitely not at 3.30 pm. However, If you’re calling an A or B level employee, they’ll have fewer meetings, calendar obligations, etc., and are most likely available all the way till closing hours.
Close the deal.
The final point is the deal and its closure. Here at AbilityMatrix, we simply commit to deliver the value that has been sold, and we ensure that you have an excellent customer experience. We close a good percentage of our deals, which is always admirable, considering that they were born from a cold call. Mr. W.Clement Stone once said that “sales are contingent upon the attitude of the salesman-not the attitude of the prospect.” This is to say that having had a great call with Mr. Norbert at the gate, Ms. Grace, somewhere in the middle and Ms.Cumbert finally, does not close my deal or satisfy my real reason for the call. But it says a lot about my company and what is to be expected. Your attitude and tenacity will play a significant role in how you reach the end-how you close your deal, which of course, is your goal.
The capsules I give you as a takeaway
These scenarios mentioned above are not set in stone. They vary and differ based on several factors like even your geographical location however they are as universal as can be because the human being is not as complicated and different you know, we are all the same 🙂
These are my real experiences so far, which have shaped my approach, attitude, and perspective both personally and professionally. I have come to understand the human being, the corporate space, and language. You have every right to be emotional and swayed by events here and there, but You always approach every prospect with the same zeal and intelligence.
This brings me to my conclusion on the note, that cold call is nothing but an attitude and behavior simulation. Always see yourself in one shoe or the other, and you will walk more confidently.
If you want to learn more about the decision-maker/problem matrix we employ to prioritize the target segments, book a call with us on the following page: bizdev.abilitymatrix.com