In today’s challenging economic environment, buyers are busier than ever before. They’re working in more complex environments and are under great pressure to succeed in their respective markets.
Buying decisions are therefore being taken much more seriously, with purchase orders and investments being scrutinised in greater detail.
To make things worse, sales people are increasingly perceived as timewasters by senior buyers. This has led to an increase in the number of barriers, in the form of gatekeepers, that are put in place to stop sales people dead in their tracks.
Turning cold calls into hot sales meetings has thus become a huge challenge for most B2B sales professionals in recent years.
Despite these challenges, the best sales people still continue to generate hot prospects through cold calling. This suggests that – with the right selling skills – it is still possible to get past the gatekeeper in today’s tough selling environment.
Avoid common mistakes
To get past the gatekeeper, you need to convince them that you’re not the timewaster that senior buyers dread to meet. Within the first ten seconds, you need to gain their initial interest. This should buy you the next thirty seconds to convince the gatekeeper to set up a meeting for you with the real decision maker in the buying organisation.
To achieve this, you need to avoid many of the common mistakes that result in rejection. Sales people often insist on diving immediately into the features, advantages and benefits (FABs) of their products. But FAB selling is dead – it simply doesn’t work in today’s selling environment.
Most gatekeepers are trained to reject sales people who insist upon talking about their products and fail to understand the buyer’s world. They know that the real decision maker has seldom time to talk about your latest product, your portfolio of clients, or the recent achievements of your company.
At best, if you do this you will end up meeting a functional specialist who understands the specific features of your solution. You may be under the impression that you have just generated a hot new lead. But functional specialists rarely have any real decision-making authority and often simply create a barrier and prevent you from meeting with the real decision maker. So you might be getting a lot of meetings with these functional specialists, but most of these meetings will be unproductive. This is a cold calling approach to developing cold prospects that result in cold meetings and a cold sales performance!
Communicate insight, value and credibility
To get past the gatekeeper, the best sales people quickly communicate insight, value and credibility on their sales calls.
To communicate insight, they demonstrate a clear understanding of the buyer’s world. This includes the various pressures and challenges faced by the buying organisation.
To communicate value, they explain exactly how they can help the buyer to improve their performance.
Finally, to communicate credibility, they convince the gatekeeper of the successful solutions they have provided for other buyers in similar situations.
These three simple steps of communication achieve real success when cold calling. They help to avoid rejection, develop instant credibility and create real interest from buyers. This prepares the ground for a great sales meeting later on in the sales process.
Written by: Steve Eungblut, Managing Director of Sterling Chase