Building rapport in cold calls.
As you may have guessed, I'm one of those people who still use cold calling as an effective B2B marketing tool. Things have changed over the past ten years, and I am an avid pupil of all things sales, I dedicate time each day to read books, blogs and listen to podcasts as well as attending seminars etc. I am always interested to hear what others are doing and how our industry is moving forward. There's currently a lot of focus in our space in particular on building rapport and how important that is on a sales call. I want to give my opinion on this debate and hope to offer some advice that will prove valuable to you.
Before I do that, it might be prudent to explain why you might be interested in my opinion on this subject. For the past 20 years, I have been an entrepreneur. I've built various businesses from scratch, mostly successful, some unsuccessful, in various different industries ranging from retail to recruitment. I have a lot of experience of making cold calls and selling and have personally made thousands of sales calls and sent millions of cold emails. I,m the CEO of sales Results (www.salesresults.co.uk) a business to business lead generation, for companies who want their salespeople focused on closing deals, we also provide sales as a service and over the past 9 years have worked with companies in a range of very diverse industries and consistently delivered results using our method of direct marketing. Being involved with so many different businesses over the past nine years, I have seen huge changes in sales processes with the internet and email becoming mainstream at almost every type of business. Buyers now have far more access to information, its easier to shop around and gather information. It's particularly obvious in the B2B space as previously buyers wouldn’t be able to hear about your product or service unless a) you had a big advertising budget or b) called them or sent a letter!. Now people are far more aware of solutions and have instant access to information. Companies still involved in direct marketing have become less and less, and it is increasingly difficult to use cold calling (in isolation) as an effective tool. Things have moved on, and everyone hates cold calls! Those who continue to use this tool are bombarded with advice about building rapport, and I’d like to offer some advice on that subject.
Firstly, what building rapport IS NOT. Despite what you read, building rapport with this type of call is not about commonality, chit-chat, talking about the weather, how the persons weekend was etc. You are not on a date, and it's not the time to be asking personal questions and establishing commonality. If you are making cold calls, which done well I still recommended, then you are in the interruption business. No one has set aside time in their schedule to have a chat with a stranger who has called them out of the blue and in the first few seconds of the call they are trying to work out who you are, are you a salesperson? If so, whats the fastest way to get rid of them!
So, how do we build instant good rapport? The focus of the call must be clear in the first place. An initial call is to establish if you are a fit for working together, People are only interested in what you can do to help them achieve their goals and to get to rapport is built as follows. 1 – Enthusiasm. You must be enthusiastic. It is difficult not to be intrigued if the person is enthusiastic. It makes you think “they must have something” 2. Tonality, using the right tone to create interest 3. Professionalism, talking with authority, sounding like an expert and someone worth listening to.
It is important to have a clear goal for this initial call. Which for me is always establishing if we are a fit. If we are then its worth both parties exploring further if not, talking further is wasting time and you should always be looking to genuinely assist people and not talk them into things. It always annoys me when people talk about being able to “sell ice to Eskimos” etc. Why would you want to? It's very important to look at your script and make sure you are not using any red flag phrases. Things like “Are you interested in saving money, making money”, etc., etc. These cause the prospect to start an automatic defence mechanism. Their subconscious mind is screaming “Sales Person – GET RID”. They cant concentrate on what you are saying and will do what they can to get rid of you. Looking for micro agreements, getting people to say yes to questions they couldn’t possibly say no too are all red flags on this initial call. Respect people time. Saying things like “what we do in a sentence is …..” is a great line as it allows the prospect to recognise you are going to be brief! Remember you are prospecting and not closing. You are establishing if you can be of value and that’s all.