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Keeping The Appropriate Perspective When You Cold Call


Being in sales a majority of my career I've never been a particularly big fan of the "BS" artists. Hey, I understand it's impossible to avoid those kinds of personalities in the sales game...but we can always hope. It's pretty simple to me: Say what you mean and mean what you say.

This mindset I assume stems from my old man who worked for years as a commercial credit manager at a building supply company. His primary role was to  determine if a potential customer was worth extending credit to. Of course if you were a bit behind on a payment, he would also be the first guy giving you a call offering a gentle reminder. Needless to say the guy knew how to get to the point and really wasn't a big fan of the fluffy sugar coated answer. Let's just say that he didn't have the best relationship with the sales guys that came into his office trying to spin a reason behind why it made sense to extend credit to a big lumber yard with a bad credit history.

When I told the old man of my intention of getting into sales, I couldn't tell if he wanted to ask what the hell I was thinking or cry. After he came to terms with my decision he sat down gave me some sage advice on what he felt were the mandatory traits of a respectable inside sales rep.

At the time I wasn't entirely convinced that a guy who never worked in sales would know what it takes. Years later I've found that my old man's credit manager mindset actually fits rather nicely into cold calling.

Here are a few of the tips he gave me:

1) Get to the point:
No real reason in beating around the bush. A busy guy such as my dad, like any executive, wants you to explain in as little time as possible what it is you're offering..and more importantly how it can help them. Allot yourself 30 seconds to put your compelling statement out there... go over that time limit and there's a good chance you've lost them.

2) Be prepared - Don't wing it:
Have a consistent and repeatable approach to your calling. Always have a "loose script" at the ready when you get a prospect live. Not that you want to sound like you're reading from a script but at least have something you can quickly reference if a curveball is thrown at you. The better prepared you are, the more you'll get out of your dials. Or in other words, as my dad would often say "Son...proper planning prevents p*** poor performance... 'nuff said." (What can I say the man had a way with words...)

3) Be honest - Don't sell it if you can't back it up:
As I pointed out above, most of us don't appreciate when a sales guy sugar coats a response for us. Tell us if you can OR can't do it. If you're not giving the straight answer early on, then all you're doing is setting yourself up for failure and for prospect to be angry at you as you get further down the sales cycle. Why put yourself in the position where you'll need to back-track on any previous statement? There is a possibility if you gave straight answer from the beginning, then it may not have an impact on the deal to begin with.

4)  Don't get too high- Don't get too low:
This is probably the most important piece of advice he gave me. He saw every day first-hand what the average sales guy dealt with. As much as he hated to admit it, he took sympathy on a few of those poor slobs who were struggling to hit their number month after month- quarter after quarter. He also wanted to smack around the sales rep who took upon themselves to determine what was and wasn't a good piece of business - just because they hit their number in the previous quarter. He stressed that it was important to always keep things in perspective. Always anticipate that a slow month will sneak up on you occasionally, but if you have faith in your skill-set and you are putting in the appropriate amount of effort, your numbers will consistently and predictably turn around.

We all can get into a rut and typically our first thought would be to ask our sales brethren for the answer to our struggle. As we know, when you’re too close to the problem it can be difficult to see the answer. Think about mixing it up a bit by asking that person in your life that will provide you completely fresh and honest perspective on how to approach your calls. Feel free to contact me off line if you’re interested in speaking with my old man…his services aren't cheap but at least you’ll get the answers you’re searching for!


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