Call Reluctance is Just as Popular as Ever!

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Mar 07, 2017 @ 09:03 AM

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Image Copyright Christian Chan

Last week I wrote an Article for LinkedIn Pulse that explored some of the statistics related to Call Reluctance.  Many might think that Call Reluctance is a malady that occurred back when salespeople did their own dialing and had to book their own appointments.  The truth is that most salespeople are still expected to dial and in tech companies where BDR's do that dirty work, Call Reluctance is still the primary reason why there aren't enough conversations.  While some are quick to blame the low (as bad as) 15:1 dial to conversation ratio, that number is driven in part by salespeople who don't try hard enough to get their prospects to the phone.  Those with Call Reluctance might even be heard saying, "Sure, put me through to voicemail" or "He's busy?  That's OK.  I'll call back" before breathing a sigh of relief.  How else can you explain the even more incredible industry wide statistic where BDR's book, on average, only 1.5 new meetings per week?

Keep reading for the statistics on Call Reluctance, my take on that, and the Link to the Article.

The LinkedIn article can be found here but the big discussion about the statistics - and whether I made them up - can actually be found on a LinkedIn post where Tony J Hughes shared the article.  There were close to 40 comments at the time I wrote this article so after you read the LinkedIn article, pop over to Tony's share to join the discussion.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, booking appointments, cold calling, phone prospecting

How This Awful Cold, Voicemail Message Could Have Actually Worked

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Sep 12, 2016 @ 11:09 AM

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The timing on these two events could not have been more perfect!  Both occurred last week and I wanted to share them with you today.  First came Dan McDade's article - the first of three parts - on whether cold calling is dead.  He asked a number of sales experts to weight in and articulate whether it is truth or a lie.  It was very well done and you'll want to read it.  Then came the comments - most notably on LinkedIn - from both sides of the argument.  And finally, I received a cold call from a salesperson who was following up on an email.  It's a great example of a call that was a complete waste and I'll share that call with you as well as how that call could have worked.

First, let's take a look at Dan's article and his quest to determine if "cold calling is dead" is fact or fiction.

Next, let's wander over to one of the LinkedIn discussions and take a look at the argument in progress.  Click on the comment icon to reveal all of the comments.

Finally, let's listen in on this voicemail.  In the context of "cold calling is dead" it's interesting because cold calls like these are obviously not dead.  Although it's far less common to get the call following up on an email, it's not unheard of either.  But what was the real purpose of the call?  To see if I got the email?  Really? Why would anyone expect this call to work?  Listen first, and then we can discuss it.

He did not give me a reason as to why his initial email or a future conversation with him might be important to me.  In other words, it was a total waste of a call for him and for me.

So what could he have done instead?

He could have started with something that I would have agreed with like: "Dave, I sent you an introductory email last week, but if you're as busy as me, it was probably buried in an avalanche of holiday email and you never saw it."

He could have continued with why he sent it to me. "I sent the email because I believe that we could help you in much the same way that we have helped other growing consulting firms like yours."  This demonstrates that the call was targeted, he knows I have a growing consulting firm, and there is reference to having done this before.

And he could have given me a good reason to call.  "If you could give me five minutes next week, I will make sure that you don't waste your time and I'm sure that you will be glad we talked."

And here is a cold call from this morning. Listen to this one.

Just like the first one - what is the purpose of the call?  To formally introduce himself?  Why would that be compelling unless he said his name was Sean Connery.  I know, Connery is Scottish, but you know what I mean.

So what could he have done differently?  He could have said, "I know you're with Toshiba and a lot of Toshiba customers have been frustrated over inaccurate invoicing and moving to us at Kyocera.  I was hoping that we could spend 5 minutes to see if we could provide with you a more enjoyable experience."

Finally, if you aren't tired of these dissections, here is one you can simply read.

Cold calling isn't dead, but most salespeople don't do it - only 35% of salespeople prospect consistently - and that makes it appear dead. Those that do prospect tend to suck at it - 34% aren't able to schedule meetings when they make a cold call.

Meetings don't get scheduled unless somebody picks up a phone.  Read this article on the next big game changer for sales.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, cold calling, linkedin, dan mcdade

Why Inbound and Inside Sales Experts Think Sales Process is Dead Too

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Aug 18, 2015 @ 16:08 PM

Sales Process isn't even the only thing that inbound marketers say is dead. They'll have you believing that salespeople are no longer needed, selling is dead, and a consultative approach is dead too. They are basically ready to proclaim that anything selling-related, that they don't really understand or find it necessary to do, is not needed and dead.  

Let's start with my recent Google search for "Sales Process is Dead."  That search turned up these articles on the first page of results:

So who wrote all of these articles?  

One article was written by a sales expert discussing the concept of following the buyer's purchasing process. OK, that's still a sales process and it has some validity if you have weak salespeople that sell to large companies where you can't impact or change anything relative to how they buy.

One article was published in Harvard Business Review and was really about Solution Selling being dead. It isn't dead, but the authors are making a lot of money by saying that and pushing the Challenger Sale!

And the rest were written by marketers who might sell a lot more of their services if they can convince you that sales process is dead. 

The second page of the Google search results was even worse, including proclamations that B2B selling is dead and that field sales is dead. Don't get me wrong. I love and use some of their tools and services and recommend them to clients too. But the key word here is tools. They support and enhance selling. Tools don't replace selling.

There's very little question that everything we know about selling has changed dramatically in the past 5-8 years. I've written about these changes on 5 occasions and even my viewpoint has changed during this time! See:

There is some truth to what inbound marketing experts and inside sales experts are saying relative to the context of who they work with. Certainly, those who work inbound leads only need to follow up and either schedule a call or get the lead to click a button and subscribe. There isn't any complicated selling or sales process to navigate in order for that to work! Many inside salespeople only need to concern themselves with the top of the funnel where scheduling an appointment is their ultimate success.  

The disconnect occurs when salespeople, sales managers, sales leaders, marketing executives and CEOs read the propaganda from the inbound/inside experts and mistakenly believe that it applies to them! There are 10 scenarios where that message does not and will not ever apply to you:

  1. If you don't sell inexpensive subscriptions,
  2. If you aren't the lowest price in your category,
  3. If you don't have a short sales cycle,
  4. If you aren't the brand leader,
  5. If you have a story to tell,
  6. If your product requires design/build or customization,
  7. If what you sell is a lot of money,
  8. If you have a new company, new product or new technology,
  9. If you need to get to the C Suite, and/or
  10. If you are the underdog.

Today, there are a significant number of inside salespeople who are responsible for the entire sales cycle and they carry a quota too. Don't even suggest that they don't need a sales process and don't need to sell. Today, if you want even a chance of selling value, differentiating your company and winning business, you must take a consultative approach and use a milestone-centric sales process. You can include buyer-side milestones in that process if you like, but if you include only buyer-side milestones and don't focus on sales-side milestones too, you will get beat by competitors who have a true sales process.

This is important.  

Selling has become more difficult than ever before. Consistent success requires a consultative approach that most salespeople have difficulty executing. They haven't been properly trained or coached in its application, don't practice, and aren't confident enough to use it. It's much easier to give in to the marketers, abandon the sales process, abandon the consultative approach, abandon value selling, and abandon best practices despite how relevant and effective they still are. You'll have a longer sales process and a lower win-rate, but failing could never be easier!

Or, you can take the path less traveled, use the more difficult consultative approach in a more challenging milestone-centric sales process. It will be harder, but your sales cycle will be shorter and you'll have a higher win rate.

Easy gets you lousy results. Difficult helps you achieve consistent success.

I've seen this first-hand with golf and tennis. Accept the difficult job of learning to play either game the right way, learn the correct way to stroke the ball, learn the right strategies, practice your butt off and you'll win a lot more than you'll lose and feel much better about yourself too. Or, continue to play like a hack and you'll lose a lot more than you'll win and constantly have a feeling of frustration and discouragement.

In the end, it's always up to you. There are plenty of us who are always more than willing to help if you want to take the journey to mastery.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, Inbound Marketing, sales process, solution selling, sales funnel, cold calling, inside sales, SPIN Selling, selling is dead

12 Proven Sales Hacks to Increase Sales

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jun 25, 2015 @ 07:06 AM

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It seems that these days, things are changing faster than we can recognize. Cosby is finally out of the news, but the Marathon Bomber is back in. The terrible winter weather is in our rear view mirror, but now we are dealing with droughts and tornadoes! And in our world, Sales 2.0, a term we haven't heard in a while, is making the rounds again. In today's article, we'll talk about the sales improvements that readers are most interested in.

Let's kick things off with the most popular article of the first 6 months of 2015, which talks about how dramatically things have changed in selling. Read this very popular article from earlier this year, which is all about the next change to take place in selling.

On LinkedIn, this article explains one simple change that salespeople and sales managers can make that will significantly improve the pipeline and win rate.

With all that has changed, no single characteristic is more important to selling than an individual's unconditional commitment for sales success. This article explains what committed salespeople do differently.

This popular article compares a bad sales email to a good one and a similar article exposes an ineffective cold call and includes a breakdown as to why it was so bad! This article completes the business development highlights with 3 keys to help convert more of those calls to meetings.

We've covered how to be more effective getting meetings scheduled, so let's move to another popular article that explored the possibility that with everything changing so quickly, consultative selling could already be dead.

One of the biggest challenges that companies are having right now is in attracting, assessing, interviewing and selecting new salespeople. Companies are hiring and it's more difficult than ever to hire a good salesperson. Accordingly, some of the most popular articles of the first 6 months of 2015 were written about hiring salespeople.  

This article explains why 1 million sales jobs will be lost, while this one explains why half of an entire sales force resigned in a single month. Could this happen at your company? Why is it that some great salespeople don't live up to your expectations while others are as good, or better than expected? This article explains how and when that can happen. On the other side of that story are the weak salespeople - those with poor Sales DNA and/or sales skills - who somehow find ways to succeed. This article talks about the intangibles they may possess and why they can't be taught or replicated. To round out the best of the sales selection articles, read this one about the phoney baloney sales candidate and how you can make sure that he doesn't fool you.

Finally, you won't want to click on this one right now. Instead, save it for when you have 30 minutes to read it in its entirety. The article began as a simple rebuttal to some junk science on sales selection and turned into a debate on the science of sales assessments and specifically, put Objective Management Group's (OMG) sales candidate assessments on trial. The people have spoken, but what did they say?

Was today's article helpful? Share it! Tweet it! Comment.

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, Sales 2.0, cold calling, sales selection, objective management group, sales emails that work, building the sales pipeline

Top 3 Keys to Convert Phone Calls to Meetings

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Apr 06, 2015 @ 11:04 AM

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I had just finished speaking in Bozeman, Montana and was sitting in a delicious little breakfast cafe (think cowboy truck stop). That's when I was asked to explain how to maintain control of a cold call.  Well, the environment screamed rodeo, my inner voice yelled riding and taming a bull, but my voice of reason began talking about the concept of flow, patience, listening and staying in the moment.  

There are really only three primary things required to keep a call going long enough to get a disinterested prospect engaged:

  1. Road Signs. Where I live in Massachusetts, we call them rotaries, but in most places, they are called traffic circles or roundabouts.  The premise is that there is no such thing as a wrong turn in a traffic circle. The world is round, so instead of fighting to reverse direction, simply follow the path until you eventually return to the same traffic circle.  On a phone call, that means allowing the prospect to turn onto Put-Off Place, Disinterested Drive, Stall Street, or Hate it Highway. Instead of wrestling with them for control, just go with the flow and at some point you'll have a second chance to turn onto Success Street.  That is when you must use...
  2. If-Then Logic.  If you have ever written software code or even used formulas in Excel, then you have used if-then logic.  In sales, use if-then logic by writing out some formulas that you can use with confidence, whenever a prospect responds in a particular way.  For instance, if the first thing you hear is, "We're all set." you can respond with, "I expected you to say that...so I assume that [insert statement that assumes some version of perfection relative to what you sell]. If you are selling software, that might sound like, "So I assume that the latest efficiencies have allowed you to trim staff."  A series of if-then statements will work effectively if you have the proper...
  3. Tonality.  The most important thing on a call is to sound like someone who your prospect would choose to speak with.  When prospects try to get rid of salespeople on the phone, it's usually because they sound like salespeople, act like salespeople, and suck like most salespeople.  The calls don't sound like they will be much fun, prospects already know it will be a waste of time, and the salespeople are talking about themselves instead of their prospects.

When you utilize these three concepts to listen, stay in the moment, exercise patience, and succeed, your calls will improve.  Those are the three primary elements to getting a prospect's attention, keeping it, getting them engaged, and converting the call to a meeting.

Experts who sell marketing tools will tell you that cold calling is dead and to them, it is.  But they're wrong.  Even a follow-up call to a lead is a cold call.  Why?  If the person you are calling does not know you or expect your call, it's cold.  Today's leads - those where people must complete a form in order to get what they want - aren't any warmer than yesterday's leads.  They're only fresher.

The real problem is that fewer salespeople are making phone calls and when they do, they aren't reaching as many prospects as they used to.  It now takes 8-10 attempts to reach a prospect and 10-20 attempts to reach a CEO.  If that's not discouraging, then their awful calls will be.

It doesn't have to be this difficult.  Salespeople can be trained and coached to be effective at both cold calling and today's modified version of lead follow-up.  It's just that things have changed so much in the past 5 years that most approaches are outdated and ineffective.

If you or your salespeople need to build a bigger, better pipeline today, then the phone is the fastest, most effective way to achieve that.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, cold calling, scheduling sales appointments, building the sales pipeline

Case History - Another Pitiful Sales Cold Call Exposed

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Mar 02, 2015 @ 07:03 AM

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Copyright:  123RF Stock Photo

The salesperson who cold-called me gets kudos for, well, cold-calling me and getting through.  Unfortunately, it all went downhill from there.  She said she was calling from Charter Business and wanted to talk about phone and internet.  I told her that we were all set and that's when it got interesting.To her credit, she pushed back.  Unfortunately, her skills were as bad as most salespeople and when she pushed back, she did it completely wrong.  Here's what happened:

I said, "We're happy with what we have." (which is completely true).

She said, "Is there another time we could review what we have to offer?" 

Did I say I was too busy to talk right now?  Was she reading the wrong objection handling tactic from her computer monitor?  Was she learning disabled?  Or was she simply not listening?  I'm placing my bet on the likelihood that she was not listening.  When salespeople fail to listen, not only do they fail to gain favor, traction and velocity, but they perpetuate their well-earned reputation as a group of people who do not listen, only care about making a sale, and who couldn't care less about helping.

If she was listening instead of reading a script, she would have heard the word "happy."  Usually, when a prospect simply doesn't want to engage, they'll say, "We're all set."

She could have pushed back in so many ways...notice how each of these goes a bit further:

  • "I don't hear that very often, who are you using?"
  • "That's great to hear; you must be thrilled!"
  • "Terrific - what are you most happy with?"
  • "That's interesting because most of my new customers began by saying the very same thing - that they were happy."
  • "Since you're happy, you must never have to wait for a page to load..."
  • "And every file transfers instantly..."
  • "And videos never have to buffer..."
  • "You can easily store all of your large files in the cloud..."
  • And your voice calls are always perfect..."

She wouldn't have been able to turn me around, but I am certain she would have been able to turn around any prospect who was able to recognize that their service wasn't as good as it could be.

Most salespeople are afraid to push back.  It's a shame when someone is actually willing to push back, but hasn't been properly trained on how to do it effectively.

 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, overcoming resistance, cold calling, lead generation, phone sales, overcoming objections

A Good Look at Bad Salespeople - Companies Don't Get This!

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jan 22, 2015 @ 10:01 AM

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Copyright: 123RF Stock Photo

This week I received a cold call from one of the worst salespeople ever.  

I get to see the Sales DNA and Sales Competencies of more bad salespeople than anyone on the planet so I know bad when I see it or hear it.  Objective Management Group (OMG) has assessed more than 750,000 salespeople and when I compare percentages between the beginning and end of the last ten year period, not much has changed.  74% of all salespeople still suck and I get to see just how bad they suck.  Once in a while I get to experience sucky salespeople up close and personal.  What I am about to share is just such a story.

The caller said she was from [ABC Systems] and asked if I was the person that handled such things.  

Yes, the very first thing she said, did or ask was to qualify me as the decision maker.  No pleasantries, no preliminaries, no questions to see if we had any issues, not anything except, WAS-I-THE-PERSON?  BANT is an ancient qualifying acronym with A standing for authority.  But it shouldn't be used THAT soon in the call!  Even if they were using the ancient BANT method, I was only 25% qualified at that point. That didn't seem to matter to her though because upon learning that she had a decision maker, she stated that she would like to send a rep over to talk with me about it.  I guess she believed that if I'm the guy, then I must be qualified enough to meet with a salesperson.    I said I was happy with our current system and thanked her for trying.  In an effort to salvage the call, she said, "I can assure you that we can save you 40-50% off of what you are currently paying."  So much for credibility.  She didn't know what I was paying for my current system.  For all she knew I might have even been using her system. I do know this:  40-50% savings is a promise she simply can't make.

She was working the top of the funnel as an appointment setter. Those roles are important in a company but if she does make an appointment, can you imagine the poor outside salesperson who shows up for that meeting?  It doesn't matter that it's with the decision maker.  If the field sales rep can't save the decision maker that 40-50% he was promised, the salesperson will fail to meet expectations!  And what other expectations can there be after a cold call like that?  The decision maker will not care how it works, how it's different, or how it's better.  The expectations were set:  How much will this cost?  A sale cannot be any more transactional than that!

So what did she do well?  She made the dial, got me on the phone and got me a tiny bit qualified.  

What did she do poorly?  Everything else.  If she had been evaluated or assessed by OMG, she would have scored OK only as a Hunter, but horribly as a Consultative Seller, a Qualifier, a Closer, an Account Manager or a Farmer.  She wasn't even fun to talk with.  She didn't have any intangibles whatsoever.  She shouldn't have been in this role.

Everyone has sucky salespeople - it's just a matter of how sucky they are.  Companies tend to put these junior/inexperienced/ultra sucky people on the phones to do lead generation/inbound/appointment setting/top of the funnel work and this is a great example of everything that is wrong with that.  Why do companies do this?  It costs too much and is too distracting for their highly paid salespeople to be making these calls.  But salespeople are the very ones who can convert these conversations.  Salespeople are the very ones who want to schedule a quality call, as opposed to an awful call.  Salespeople have a vested interest in the outcomes of these calls.  If only there was a way to have salespeople in the conversations, but not waste their time trying to reach decision makers perhaps once or twice every few hours.

Oh wait.  There is a way!  ConnectAndSell has an amazing service that does exactly that.  As of this morning, the dashboard at the top of their website showed that they had delivered nearly 3 million conversations for their clients.  It really works.  Check them out here.

Topics: sales competencies, Dave Kurlan, prospecting, Sales DNA, cold calling, lead generation

Top 10 Mistakes Salespeople Make on the Phone (Funny Read)

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Aug 13, 2014 @ 06:08 AM

 

Seller on the PhoneEarlier this week, I wrote the "Get Your Butt Out of Your Head" article.  At that same tournament, I heard an even funnier story from its director.  He told us about a team who went 0-7, losing each game by the mercy rule.  For those of you who aren't familiar with it, if a team is losing by 12 runs or more after 4 full innings, the game is stopped, showing mercy to the team who was getting slaughtered.

As the story goes, while the parents were back in their hotels, contemplating suicide, worrying about the mental health of their kids, and calling their therapists to deal with their horrible week, the kids on the losing team threw a party!  They even invited the beloved tournament director, and when he arrived, he asked each kid for a word that described their week.  All the answers were great, but when he asked the last kid for his word, the kid said, "Joy."  When pushed for an explanation, the kid simply said that, "When a team plays against us, we give them joy!" 

Isn't that a great way to frame losing?

Speaking of losing, is it any wonder that most salespeople lose when it comes to their prospecting calls and emails?  Most calls end with a polite, but disappointed, "Thanks for your time" and most emails are either deleted or ignored.  Would you like to know why?  Well, both the calls and emails suck!

To help you understand why, take a look inside your junk or spam folder.  As you go down the list, I'm sure you'll see emails from people who want to give you free vacations, make your body parts larger, hook you up with people who want sex, need your help to transfer millions of dollars into your bank account, offer discounted prescription drugs, or a myriad of other offers.  Additionally, most of the subject lines are in ALL CAPS, all small letters, have ,punctuation' and/or "spellling errrors", or all of the above.  When you look at the FROM column, you'll see that most of these emails are from the name of an offer instead of the name of a person.  If you ever wondered how the spam filters and email programs know which emails to move to your junk folder, it's because they look, smell, feel and sound like spam!

Now think about most prospecting calls.  It's not a question as to whether or not they are bad, it's probably more about how bad they really are.  If you or your loved ones are guilty of any of the following 10 mistakes, the calls really do suck:

  1. The calls are scripted.
  2. They begin with "Hello", "Good morning", "Good afternoon", or "Yes".
  3. They have "My name is" or "This is" early in the call.
  4. They fail to ask a question in the first 5 seconds.
  5. They fail to get the prospect's attention in the first 5 seconds.
  6. They fail to engage the prospect in the first 10 seconds.
  7. They fail to sound like someone I would choose to speak with.
  8. They ask for a meeting without a compelling reason to meet.
  9. They sound too professional.
  10. They offer a demo without qualifying.

And as for the emails, they tend to be even worse.  The only thing keeping most of them out of the junk folder is that they usually begin with my name and, "I know how busy you must be."  Geez!  Emails are great for inviting people to events, but only if it's the right audience and the right event.  Emails are great for sharing a quick piece of information or asking a quick question, but they don't replace prospecting calls!  You can't have a conversation over email!  By default, that makes all forms of prospecting emails bad.

Sure, if an inbound web-generated lead comes your way, it's OK to respond with an email.  After all, that's pretty much how they reached out to you and it's fair to respond that way.  Other than that, if you want to succeed, pick up the phone, but make sure you don't sound like any other horrible salesperson who might still be using the phone for kicks.

 

Image Copyright: rawpixel / 123RF Stock Photo

Topics: Dave Kurlan, cold calling, telemarketing, telesales, funny sales story, phone prospecting

Inc Magazine Gets it Wrong on Sales Prospecting

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, May 31, 2013 @ 01:05 AM

I have to question Geoffrey James for an article that he recently posted on Inc. Magazine's online site.

He opens the article by saying that for most companies "the ability to find potential customers is the difference between growth and bankruptcy."  His opening might be a bit of an exaggeration.  The reality is that it could be the difference between growth and lack of growth because most companies that aren't growing aren't going bankrupt.

In his article, he shares a systematic approach for prospecting "loosely based upon a conversation with Thomas Ray Crowel."  My interpretation of his use of the word "loosely" is that he contributed his own opinions to this systematic approach.  That makes the article all the more disappointing.

In the fifth step of the prospecting call, he says that if the prospect sounds interested, you should skip the script and jump right to the close.  Really?  Isn't this a prospecting call?  He makes it sound more like telemarketing than prospecting for appointments or meetings.  It certainly doesn't apply to a complex B2B sale!

He also suggests that you create a qualifying script using the old - very old - method of authority, budget and need.  If you are selling something that requires authority and budget, then you'll require more than need to get them to spend their money and you certainly wouldn't be able to jump right to the close.  Why would we want to qualify this early?  Until we have heard that they have a compelling reason to buy, they won't have an incentive to answer any qualifying questions!

This systematic approach (250 cold calls/week) is based on a salesperson making cold calls all day.  That in itself is very archaic and when it is performed as a full-time function, it's usually by the lead generation team, not salespeople.  After all, if the salespeople are making 250 calls per week, when would they have time to conduct their scheduled sales calls and meetings?

Geoffrey's subtitle for the article is a "step by step approach for building up a sales pipeline."  Lead generation people don't have pipelines and people who close on the first phone call don't have them either.  His steps and examples are not consistent with salespeople who actually build sales pipelines!

If you need to connect with business prospects and build a sales pipeline, read Frank Belzer's terrific book, Sales Shift.  His book has some truly relevant, modern, effective and efficient methods for finding and closing new business - the new way.  And if you want to pound the phones and dial for dollars, my book, Baseline Selling - How to Become a Sales Superstar by Using What You Already Know about the Game of Baseball, has a terrific prospecting section and you can get some terrific tips on reaching 1st base at the Baseline Selling site.

You can also find some good articles on prospecting right here on my Blog.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Baseline Selling, sales shift, frank belzer, cold calling, geoffrey james, sales prospecting

Top 5 Reasons Why Sales Cold Calls Are So Awful

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Nov 12, 2012 @ 11:11 AM

cold callToday 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!"
  4. 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. 
  5. 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.
As a reminder, I am hosting two Webinars this week:
Solving the CRM Problem - Tuesday, November 13, 10 AM ET. Register.
Solving the Sales Performance Issue - Wednesday, November 14, 10:30 ET.  Register.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, sales management, sales leadership, cold calling, telesales

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About Dave

Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for six consecutive years.  Dave's Blog earned a Bronze Medal in 2016 and this article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016. Read more about Dave.

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