The in-person cold call is the oldest in the book. It is still used daily by outside sales representatives, but more and more companies are shifting towards having strictly an inside sales force. If you are in B2B sales then the chances are you make in-person cold calls every day. If you are an inside sales representative feel free to skip this section and head to the phone call basics post.
Cold calling is often times the first contact a salesperson will have with a prospect. The idea behind the call is to gather as much information as possible while communicating with employees within the organization. In-person calls can be much more effective than phone calling because you get a chance to see the company with your own eyes, physically interact with individuals, and get a sense for how the organization is run. Thus, many outside sales representatives are reluctant to call potential prospects on the phone.
Using your eyes is one of the main reasons why in-person calls can be so effective. Say you sell office technology such as computers and phone systems. When you walk in and talk to the receptionist at the front desk, there is a good chance that you will be able to see what type of hardware they have. This will let you know if a follow up is worth your time and also gives you the ammunition you will need to set an appointment with the person in charge of purchasing the office technology.
Physical interaction and communication is important as well. Don’t get me wrong, many receptionists and people you engage won’t want to have a conversation with you. However, it is easier to build rapport, make someone smile, and hold a conversation face to face rather than over the phone. It is also harder for a receptionist to dismiss you when you are right in front of them. While over the phone, all he/she has to do is hang up, or give you bad information so you won’t call back. Think of how hard it is to build a relationship with a stranger over the phone.
The Goal of the In Person Call
There are only three real goals of an in-person cold call:
1. Meet the decision maker. The decision maker is simply the person who would make the decision to buy the product or service you have to offer. The decision maker could be an owner, office manager, IT manager, etc. depending on what you sell, the industry the prospect is in, and the size of the organization.
For example, if you sell medical devices, the decision maker is going to be the specialist or surgeon. If you sell office technology the decision maker may be the office manager or the owner depending on the size and structure of the company.
Regardless of who the decision maker is, it is your goal to introduce yourself to them. You will not be able to close a deal if you are not talking to the person who is going to buy!
2. Gather 3 pieces of information. While you are making in-person calls it should be your goal to gather a minimum of 3 pieces of information. This information could consist of the decision maker’s contact information, different names to reach out to within the organization, the current vendor or product similar to yours that they have, etc.
If you are not able to meet the decision maker you are going to use the information you gather to set an appointment with him/her over the phone or next time you stop into their office. As a sales representative you should think of yourself as a detective. The more pieces of information you can gather, the easier it will be to close the case.
3. Set an Appointment. It is always your goal to set an appointment with the decision maker. Appointments are vital because they allow you to have the undivided attention of the prospect. This is your time to sell them on why they should proceed through the rest of the sales process with you.
Appointments are also the best way to build rapport and uncover important pieces of information. Have you heard the saying “always be closing”? Well, when cold calling you should “always be closing” for an appointment!
It takes time to become a great in-person cold caller. It is a process of trial and error as you figure out what style works best for you and what you are most comfortable with. There are many different talk tracks and techniques that we recommend you become familiar with to speed up the learning process. Also, taking a look at some of the most important tips for cold calling in-person will allow you to have more success throughout your sales career.
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