Some Punch Into Your Cold Calls
ever said that cold calling is easy. No part of a sales representative's
day can present more challenges and frustrations than going
to visit people who have absolutely no pressing reason to
see you or buy from you.
of the tricks I use to use was to always start and end my
day with a known customer who was fun to visit. These were
not always my biggest customers, but the ones who made me
feel welcome and good about myself-a part of their practices.
This way, no matter how many doors got slammed in my face
during the rest of the day, I was able to maintain a positive
attitude. I might get knocked down, but I was never knocked
You Get Lucky
Like the day you walk in and the customer is angry with
their current supplier over any number of issues: delivery
errors, backorders, price increases, not returning phone calls,
etc. On those days they might just jump on the opportunity
to switch the business-suddenly, you're their primary supplier!
this sudden conversion can also be a slippery slope. Consider
happens if their supplier promptly makes amends and they
if they are on credit hold and are switching suppliers just
to get product?
if not everyone in the decision making circle is behind
this move and someone works actively to make YOU look bad?
accounts that convert spontaneously present questions and
responsibilities, and demand prompt follow-up and attention.
Ask them to place the first order with you personally, so
that you can follow-up and ensure that the order is handled
properly. Write them a personal thank you note the same night
that you give the order. Make sure that they receive their
order when they expect it. Call or visit immediately after
that delivery is made to make sure everything is to their
satisfaction. Watch their payment records closely for the
first 120 days. And, if there is a mistake or late delivery,
be proactive about it! Don't wait for their complaint; show
them that you have been tracking the order the whole time,
and that you recognized the mistake and rectified it promptly.
Luck may get you in the door, but it won't keep you there!
The Three Watchwords of Cold Calling
PCP. While the initials are reminiscent of a street drug,
the words they represent are the three core responsibilities
of cold calling for new business: persistence, consistency,
time ago I was working with a rep and we called on a medical
office. The head nurse who did the buying said she had just
switched vendors, and unless something unusual occurred to
change their minds they were not anticipating making another
change any time soon. I knew this nurse from a previous job
and asked her what had happened. She said that they had been
experiencing some problems from their vendor and this competitive
sales rep had been faithfully calling on them so she gave
him a chance.
we left, I asked my rep how often he had been in the practice.
He said that he popped in his head to say hello every three
or four months and to see if they were interested in pursuing
a change. Unfortunately, that wasn't often enough. While we
had treated the practice as an occasional stop, the competitor
had made it part of their pattern. Persistence and consistency
worked for the competitor and not for us.
and consistency lead to trust. You buy from someone you
trust. When a buyer becomes familiar with you they trust you;
you've already shown them that you are interested in them
and that they can count on you.
parents probably said it this way: "You catch more flies
with honey than with vinegar." It is one of those cliches
that is so true it should be tattooed on every sale rep. You
want to find the competitor's weakness, but you can do it
in a way that is not offensive to the potential client. A
couple of examples:
understand Company XYZ is always back-ordering you on syringes."
me what you like about your current supplier."
(Then listen to the answer.)
you could improve anything in your current supplier relationship
what would it be?" (Again, listen!)
personable is a sales rep's main door opener. Don't give them
a reason to slam the door. Be inquisitive rather than critical.
Be educational rather than sounding competitive.
Plan To Fight, Plan To Win!
You're on a cold call. How do you distinguish yourself from
your competitors when there is the ever-present question,
"Can you do a quote?"
are some who say that they don't plan their cold calls, and
I wonder why. If you don't plan a cold call, then you do both
yourself and the customer a disservice.
contend that you need to follow PCP, and then you have to
supply the "difference."
need to have a plan for cold calling if you want to get past
the glass. The first difference is YOU. If you follow PCP
then you are already developing a bridge of trust. What else
do you bring to the fight? The only muscle that matters here
is the one between your ears. Sun Tzu, the Chinese General
(c. 500 BC) said, "If ignorant of both your enemy and
yourself, you are certain in every battle to be in peril."
of preparation is knowledge. Know who your competitors are
and their strengths and weaknesses. Know your own strengths
and weaknesses, too. Be honest about it. If the customer likes
Rep X better than you, then decide how to combat it.
they have one service component that is seemingly better than
yours, analyze it and find a way around it. For instance,
your competitor delivers daily to a certain locale and you
deliver twice a week. You might use this strategy: "We
help you to plan your shipments so that they arrive when expected
and are less disruptive to the practice."
Ways To Get In Some Punches
1. Value-Added Services: Know your own services and
adapt them to the customer's needs. If you've asked questions
about what the customer would like to see improved from their
current supplier, this is a perfect time to fit your services
to that need.
Presentations: When asked to quote, take it a step
further and do a complete presentation, emphasizing your company's
strengths. If you have discovered any weaknesses in the current
supplier, make sure that you emphasize those items as your
core strengths while never mentioning the competitor. Make
the presentation look as professional as possible.
Special Services: These offerings can be great gate-openers.
Some ideas: checking the calibration of blood pressure equipment;
offering to help review their OSHA supplies or emergency supplies;
taching their centrifuges, etc. Performing these kinds of
services immediately sets you apart from your competitors
who do not.
Products: Introducing a new or different product is
also a way of establishing your difference. Rather than leading
with, "I can save you money. Can I do a quote?"
you might talk about the new safe sharps directive and ask
if they have already begun evaluating products. If not, get
them to order just a trial supply from you.
Traveling with Manufacturer Reps: Much is dependent
on the manufacturer rep, but many times reps have helped me
get past the glass by offering a product or service, or simply
following up on products of theirs that the customer already
has or uses.
all your cold calls turn into knockouts!