My professional sales career began as a telesales rep for a national consumer magazine. I sold tiny box advertisements at the back of the magazine to “box-shifters” – questionable, high-volume retailers that sell electronics (think Tottenham Court Road if you live in London).
This was before the Internet. It was grueling.
Often clients were rude and would slam the phone down on me because they hated sales calls. I didn’t blame them. I can’t stand sales calls either. Every Thursday the industry “rag” (magazine read by those in the industry) landed on my desk and on the desk of all 6 of my competitors. The rag was the first place new box-shifters would advertise, so it was a breeding ground for us sales reps to seek new prospects.
Speed was of the essence on Thursdays; it was crucial to be the first to identify and call the new advertisers. I felt sorry for the advertisers because the first calls they received would be from us sales people from the glossy magazines trying to sell them more advertising. The advertisers spent their money to receive calls from customers. Instead, they were inundated with calls from sales people.
I had to quickly develop the skill of building rapport with people within the first 10 seconds of making contact. My introduction had to capture their interest or put them in a good mood.
I was successful by doing these 3 things:
1) Empathize: Put yourself in their shoes, think what it’s like to be on the other end of the phone. What are their business needs and frustrations? What keeps them up at night?
2) Give: Begin by offering a useful piece of information that will help their business.
3) GIVE: The first conversation should focus solely on them. Genuinely care about their business and problems. Listen and ask questions.
Did I leave something out? Which cold-calling tips work for you?
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