It’s true, cold calling can be off-putting to business owners on the receiving side. After all, business owners don’t sit around idly, wondering when the next merchant services sales rep is going to stop by and strike up a […]
It’s true, cold calling can be off-putting to business owners on the receiving side.
After all, business owners don’t sit around idly, wondering when the next merchant services sales rep is going to stop by and strike up a conversation. They have businesses to run. It’s your job, as a sales rep, to interrupt them. It may seem like a bad thing, but it doesn’t have to be, if you’re selling something you believe in – something that you believe can help the merchant better run their business.
Here are three tips I’ve used to successfully cold call. They apply equally to prospecting.
Have a good excuse for making the call
Justify the reason why you’re interrupting them now
Negotiate for time
Now let’s take a look at how these strategies play out during sales calls.
A Good Excuse Buys Time
One of the biggest missed opportunities sales reps make when cold calling and prospecting is they don’t know how to make good excuses. Instead, they walk in (telephone) and immediately launch into their sales pitch, without any justification for interrupting the business owner.
Here’s an example of an opening that has worked for me.
Hi, my name is James Shepherd. I was just down the street speaking with Sue at Sue’s Pizza shop. You’re familiar with Sue’s, aren’t you? Yeah, great pizza. Well, I was driving by and realized I’ve never visited your business. I work with a bunch of businesses in this area, and I wanted to stop by and introduce myself. So, how long have you been at this location?
As you see, I made an excuse for stopping by. I find the best excuses generally mention other businesses in the area. But you may consider others. Find an excuse that you are comfortable with, and that you think prospects will react to in a positive way.
Good excuses don’t only support prospecting, they can also prove useful for follow-ups.
Sales reps struggle with follow-ups all the time. They are afraid of seeming too pushy, or worse, they wait for the prospect to follow up with them. News Flash: the merchant isn’t going to call; chances, they are going to forget all about you. So, you need to reach out to them, and you need an excuse for coming back.
Hi Tom, it’s James Shepherd. We met about a week ago. Remember, I stopped by your business? Awesome. Hey, just really quick, I wanted to bring you into the loop on something. I know I told you I was going to follow up with you in about a month, but here’s the thing, my company has a special going on right now where that terminal I told you about, the Poynt device, we’re giving those away for free to any business that gets signed up before the 15th of the month. That’s an $800 terminal! If I can get that for you free of charge, would it be worth me stopping by just to show you that one more time and see if it’s a good fit?
So, there you have it again, I’m making an excuse for calling.
Justify Your Timing
Excuses, alone, do not make for a successful sales call. You also need a good answer for the question “Why Now”?
So, you start off the conversation explaining how you were at Sue’s Pizza Shop (or whatever), and how you’re there to introduce yourself. Engage in some small talk – how long have you been here, how has business has been, etc. Then:
The reason I stopped by today, well it is a little bit time sensitive.
There are any number of reasons you can use, but it has to be a good reason. Some folks have signed up to pitch Employee Retention Credits; that can be a great reason. The ERC is one of those awesome opportunities that comes along every so often – an opportunity for sales reps to help clients in a big way, while also boosting their own income.
If you were able to keep employees on payroll during the pandemic, you may be owed a refund for employment taxes you paid then. Time is running out to apply for these refunds. That’s why I’m stopping by today, to make sure you’ve received the money you’re owed.
If you’re interrupting a business owner, and your sole reason for doing so is to sell them something, you are going to fail. Yet, so many sales reps that I talk with, that I go into the field carry with the attitude “I’m going to sell these people,” and they don’t.
The way to sell merchants is to make excuses for why your there, then justify the excuse(s) with an offer of help. In the case of ERCs, millions of merchants have yet to apply, either because they are unaware or overwhelmed by the application process. That’s where you can help.
Side Note: CCSales Pro is paying $500 up-front bonuses through our ERC Reseller Program.
Visit ccsalespro.com/erc to learn more.
Negotiate for time
This is especially true when selling B2B. But I see it as a crucial skill no matter where you are prospecting.
Negotiating for time is about getting enough time to say the next thing you are going to say. These negotiations will result in very short periods of time initially. That’s why at the beginning of a pitch I will often say:
Let me ask you one quick question?
That’s a negotiation. I’m asking for enough time to ask one quick question. And by continuing to listen to me they are giving consent for me to ask that quick question. At this point, I’ve successfully negotiated for about 10 seconds. With each negotiation that follows, the time I get to talk gets a little longer. And eventually it becomes more of a formal negotiation.
Hey, it’s been really great talking with you. It sounds like you might be interested in this point-of-sale system. The next step, as far as I’m concerned, is to set up a demo. It will take about 10 to 15 minutes to demo that system we’ve been talking about. I’d love for you to actually see how it works. Do you have 10 minutes right for me to show you now? Or should we set up a time for tomorrow. What works best for you?
Let’s suppose you’ve negotiated for time, and you have a conversation, but you can see you’re losing them, or they say outright that they’re not interested. Then try to negotiate for more time.
Hey, one last thing real quick before I let you go.
Maybe talk about a special deal you can offer.
Finally, Never Ask, Tell
Never start a cold call with “Would you please allow me 10 minutes to talk with you?”
Make good excuses for calling/visiting a merchant and justify why they should give you a few seconds/minutes of their time. When they start to put you off, negotiate some more. Perhaps for an alternate time to call/come back or conduct a demo.
Keep them on the hook for as long as possible with lines like “Well, one more thing and then I’ll let you go. Would tomorrow work for a demo?”