Today I listened to voicemails from three salespeople who cold called me.
The good news is that three people actually made cold calls! The bad news is that not much has changed. Despite the tools, training, coaching, video, audio and reading that are available, all three calls were as bad as I've ever heard.
For example, the first caller was from a hardware/software catalog/online retailer with whom we've done a little business over the years. She wanted me to call her back so that she could tell me about their current promotion. Most of us will buy when we need something and won't buy something which we don't need just because it's discounted. It wasn't a very effective message, nor was it delivered very well either.
The next call was from a guy with whom I would never choose to talk because he sounded so incredibly depressing. He had one of those deep, gravely voices which were the trademarks of old-time radio personalities - with the upbeat part missing from his faded sound. I imagined a very old, crusty, former radio salesperson making this call. Am I judging? Yes - that's what prospects do when they consider whether to delete, save, return the call or add the caller to their to-do lists. He was trained at some point in his lifetime - very long ago - and it showed - he offered tomorrow morning or the following afternoon - very, very, very, old Dale Carnegie tactics. He was calling to "remind me" that his company acquired the manufacturer of our existing phone system so I should call. He did provide his name and phone number twice but other than that, his was a very ineffective message.
The third call was from some guy who sold a service and wanted me to call so that he could tell me in more detail what he offered. Since I can't remember his name or his service, he didn't make much of an impression or give me much of a reason to call. This was not a very effective message.
The messages are never effective.
The people never sound very good.
Their reasons for return calls are usually, more than anything else, reasons not to call back.
The most difficult part of making cold calls is actually making the cold call. Yet these companies are getting their salespeople to make the calls, so why aren't they providing training and coaching which would leverage their salespeople's willingness to perform the call, with skills which would allow them to achieve success from their effort?
There is more than one answer, but I'll provide a my top five:
- The company is in a time warp where they still believe it's all about the numbers. Just make forty cold calls and the rest will take care of itself. That might have been true in the 1980's, but it doesn't work like that anymore. On average, it takes eight attempts to reach a decision-maker and when salespeople get one on the phone, they have a very short window of opportunity to be effective or they've wasted their time.
- The company is in a reality distortion where they believe that if their salespeople can simply follow a script, the rest will take care of itself. That was never true and couldn't be true today. As soon as business prospects hear a telesalesperson reading a script, they already have heard more than they care to hear.
- The company is suffering from the Smucker's Syndrome. They created the scripts and selected the salespeople themselves, so "with a name like Smucker's, it's got to be good!"
- The company has unrealistic expectations. Their salespeople get lucky just often enough to convince sales leadership that the results will improve any day now - they're almost there.
- They are financially conservative. They'll waste lots of cash hiring these incompetent salespeople, but won't spend any money to bring in professional help.