Do you really think I’ll pick up the phone if I don’t recognize your number? I know the phone numbers and area codes of my clients, family, friends, and any other important people who might be calling me. And like most business buyers, I don’t answer calls from unfamiliar or unknown numbers, because I don’t want to talk to cold callers. Think you can fool people by calling from your cell phone? “Wireless number” seems so urgent. Tricked me once. It won’t happen again.
So when Bill from Chicago called me, he went straight to voicemail. But I did actually listen to his message requesting a meeting with his CEO. He outlined how his company and No More Cold Calling were aligned, and made the business case for his software application by quoting details about the results his clients were experiencing. All good so far.
Then Bill told me his company name. That’s when he lost all credibility. You see, I have known the CEO of this company since he founded it more than five years ago. I met him at an event, and we’ve spoken many times since. Our philosophies are different, so we’ve never worked together, but I respect and admire him and the success of his company.
I might have forgiven Bill’s oversight several years ago, but there’s no excuse today for neglecting to do sales research. If Bill had taken one quick look at his CEO’s connections on LinkedIn, he would have seen that we’re a first connection. Better yet, what if Bill actually had a conversation with his executives, shared his call list, and discovered how the leadership of his company knew people on his list? Imagine the richer sales conversations he could have had.
We Should Be Smarter than Our Buyers
Salespeople must do exacting research. It’s our job as smart, strategic sales pros to deliver value—real value—and we can only do that if we’ve invested time into researching our prospects.
Buyer 2.0 is very good at homework. In fact, 86 percent of business buyers engage in research independent of the sales cycle. Before they make contact with us, prospects have usually checked us out, compared pricing, read a white paper or two, listened to a webinar, and/or viewed a demo. They’ve also researched what our competitors have to offer.
So Seller 2.0 must be just as well informed to compete in today’s challenging business environment. Forget the sales pitch; your prospects have already read everything you have to say about your company on your website. By the time they talk to you, they’re only interested in hearing what you can do for their companies, which means you must know as much about them as they know about you.
Bill missed his chance. I’m sure he moved on to the next name on his call list, as I’ve never heard back from him. I was tempted to call him back, but I decided to write about the experience instead.
Stop Spamming Strangers
If you’re still cold calling, sending spam emails, or pestering strangers on social media with your sales pitch, consider this: They don’t know who you are. The only way to change that is by making an effort to get to know them. Take a few minutes to check people out on LinkedIn, and you will likely find common connections.
Cold calling or emailing most buyers won’t get you anywhere. But when you receive referral introductions from people your prospects know and trust, they expect to hear from you and welcome your call. You arrive at the first meeting with trust and credibility already earned. After all, that’s what selling is about—building solid, long-term, lasting relationships.