How can salespeople better prepare for cold calls?

Before a sales representative makes the first contact with a hot lead, they should collect as much information as possible about the prospect without appearing to be stalking them. The individual who graciously provided the sales lead in the first place is the most obvious and accessible source for this information. At a minimum, pose the following questions and write down the answers:

  • Who is the ultimate decision-maker? How are their buying decisions made-on impulse, by analysis, emotionally? What are their hot buttons?
  • Who else may have a strong influence on the decision? What are their needs, wants, and desires? What’s in it for each person to see that the best decision is made?
  • What are the critical factors in the decision-on-spec quality, guaranteed on-time delivery, affordable price, expert advice and service, convenience in placing and receiving the order? (Hint: That last factor will be the overriding determinant more often than you might think)
  • What are the non-negotiable expectations for the order? What problem is solved by the purchase of these goods and services? What is the value of satisfying the client’s needs compared to the price of the job?
  • What’s the budget for this job? Is there latitude to go up on quality or quantity to get a better per-unit value?
  • In the past, what competitive companies, if any, were used? What was the customer’s experience with the other guy? Are they being considered again? What problems, if any, were encountered? What did it “cost” the customer to endure any issues?
  • What is the customer’s knowledge of the features and options available to them? Will they be interested in learning more about her choices and provide input when placing the order, or will they prefer an all-inclusive, turnkey transaction?
  • How can you leverage your unique value proposition-the thing your company excels at and is best known for-to give you a competitive advantage in this opportunity?

No matter if you secure the answers to all of these, you should prepare a list of questions to ask during the cold call to confirm or correct your customer “intelligence.” Fill in the blanks where answers were not readily available. Your probing strategy is the most crucial step in preparing for a cold call.

—Your Personal Business Trainer

vince dicecco

Vince DiCecco

Your Personal Business Trainer

Vince is a dynamic seminar speaker and author with a unique perspective on business development and management subjects, primarily in the decorated- and promotional-apparel industries. With 20+ years of experience in sales, marketing and training, he is an independent consultant to businesses looking to profit and sharpen their competitive edge.

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