Prospecting and setting appointments via cold calling isn’t easy. Overcome the objections with these cold calling scripts.
Prospecting and setting appointments via cold calling are not easy. But learn to overcome the objections and you'll instantly find more success.
A recent business-to-business client closed a mid-six-figure deal that started with a cold call. But it started out rocky. Indeed, about 20 seconds into the cold call, it almost fell apart.
After the prospect answered the phone, Jim, a salesperson, began speaking and the prospect immediately said, "I'm not interested." This is where many salespeople give up.
Jim didn't. He knew this was just the first of three common cold calling objections. He persisted and, as a result, got on the prospect's radar screen and won a massive deal.
If your initial attempt to capture a prospect's attention and create interest on a cold call doesn't work, don't just wilt! It's easy to say "OK" and move on, but then again, it's easy to fail at cold calling. All is not lost. You can overcome common objections and make saves.
Here are the three common cold calling objections and examples of how you can overcome them.
Objection 1: "I'm Not Interested"
Prospect: I'm not interested.
You: Okay. I'm curious to know, though: What could I have said about this topic that might have interested you?
Prospect: Nothing, really.
You: Then, if I hear correctly, it's not that the topic's not interesting to you, it's that you're not interested in talking at all right now. You're focused on something else.
Prospect: You got it.
You: Then let's not talk right now—but is it your area to focus on improving marketing returns at your company? Are you the person who that would fall under?
Prospect: Yes, I am.
You: Well, when I speak with companies, even those that don't think there's the ability to increase their email marketing efficiency by 10% at least, the opportunity is usually there. Whether it's there or not, I think you'll get some value out of the conversation because I'll share with you some best practice research about how it's been done at places like [insert big industry player name here]. Can we talk at another time, maybe on Friday at 2 or 3 p.m.? That way you can give me a few minutes to pique your interest, and if I don't, all you risk is the time in exchange for insight.
Prospect: Okay, sure. Let's talk at 2 p.m. this Friday.
Objection 2: “Now's Not a Good Time"
Prospect: Now's not a good time.
You: Do you mean for talking about it, or is it that increasing your sales performance isn't something that is a top priority right now?
You: Why is that? Sometimes when that's the case, it's because the company isn't looking to grow revenue for one reason or another. Is that it?
Prospect: Oh, we'd like to grow revenue, but it's just been tough with the merger that all our attention is focused there.
You: You mean merging the two sales forces from Caprica and Kobol, yes? I saw that on your website. It's one of the reasons I called. Has that been a challenge?
Prospect: Yes, it has, and we're having a heck of a time moving past “merger mode" and into “action mode."
You: I'm going to guess that one sales force is still selling their old area and same with the second, yes? And perhaps other issues are distracting the sales forces and making them focus less on sales, and more on, well, internal gyrations?
Prospect: That and more.
You: We focus on sales-force integration with mergers. Again, that is the reason I called. It's common that two sales forces, when merged, mix about as well as milk and Pepsi. At least at first. But we've been able to turn that around. Would you like to hear how?
Prospect: Okay, well it's still not a good time, but later in the week might work.
Objection 3: “We're Already Working With Someone"
One of the most common pushbacks is, “We already work with another provider to do this, and they're doing well."
If you're like many salespeople, you politely say, “Thanks for your time. I understand. Have a great day." And you move on to the next prospect, marking this one as a “no" because they're with a competitor. However, you should know that buyers switch regularly, and often they're thinking about it when you call—they're just not saying it.
In our “How Clients Buy" research, we asked several hundred business-to-business buyers if they would consider switching to new providers in the next two years. While results varied depending on the seller's industry, on average, 52% of buyers indicated they were open to switching.
Your job is to start planting the seeds of why this prospect should buy from you. Here are three ways you can respond to the “we work with someone already" cold calling objection:
1) “Good to hear. I'm curious, what do you think makes the relationship work so well?"
This is a relatively nonthreatening way to get insight into the buyer's mindset. It gets the prospect talking. And based on what they say, you can probe further and uncover areas where there may be issues with the current provider or holes in the current offerings that you can fill. After the prospect talks, you can ask a series of “I'm curious to know" questions.
Let's say you're selling network and data security technology to banks. You can say, “Great to hear. I'm curious to know, though, if they have 24-hour support if something goes haywire on you?" or “I'm curious to know if they talked with you about the best papers from the last industry conference and the trends sweeping through the industry?" or “I'm curious to know if their most recent release will allow you to access all of your intrusion detection data in real-time?" If you get any “no" answers, that leaves you room to explore more.
You might also ask, “What topics do you cover in your monthly meetings with your current provider?" In most cases, the answer to that question will be, “We don't have monthly meetings." This allows you to demonstrate how working with you is different. For example, you might say, “Oh, I didn't realize that. Would you like to know what we typically cover in monthly meetings with clients?
2) "It sounds like things are pretty good. But you didn't say they were doing an amazing job. What would it look like if a company was doing an amazing job by your standards?"
By asking that question, you get the prospect thinking about where the current provider may not be meeting expectations. It also gets them thinking about what it might be like if they did switch.
3) “Glad to hear things are going well. While I am not too familiar with their process, I know it's always worthwhile to have a second set of eyes to look things over. The next time you have something like this, I'd be happy to give it a quick review to see if we'd approach it any differently. If nothing else, you'll get a different perspective, and we may even be able to find you some additional improvement."
When you offer to be a second set of eyes, it helps build the relationship and allows them to experience firsthand your service orientation and expertise.
The idea is to start building the relationship even though there is an incumbent. Remember, many prospects are looking to switch providers in a year or two, but they don't start the call off by mentioning that. By building the relationship early, you give yourself the inside track for when they do switch. And you can create the impetus for making the switch happen now, not later.
If you want to get this far, talk now, not later. Overcoming these three common cold calling objections should help.
Mike Schultz is president of RAIN Group. This article originally appeared on the RAIN Group blog.