As a salesperson, regardless of company or industry, you need thick skin to survive. This is particularly true if cold calling is a large portion of your sales strategy. While there are steps you can take to improve your “cold calling success rate,” studies show that only two percent of cold calls lead to an appointment.
Here’s the good thing: the more skilled you become at nurturing relationships with leads, the more success you will have.
Your cold calling conversion funnel may not be the same as the next person, however, nothing changes the fact that your success is tied directly to the relationship you form with the other party. If you sound like a telemarketing professional, you won’t make much progress. Conversely, if you take a personalized approach, with a focus on nurturing the relationship, your ability to close more deals will go through the roof.
Top Tips for Success
Now that you understand the importance of relationship building in the sales process, it is time to develop your own style.
Here is a quote from Mary Kay Ash that should always be in the back of your mind:
“Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, ‘Make me feel important.’ Not only will you succeed in sales, you will succeed in life.”
Below are five methods for nurturing relationships and making every lead feel important.
- Don’t Turn a Cold Call Into a Marathon
Your first contact with a lead is not the right time to ramble on about your company, including past successes and future goals. You will get to this in the future. For now, stick with the basics:
- Introduce yourself.
- Explain your reason for calling.
- Give your 15-second elevator pitch.
- Receive feedback.
- Take notes and formulate a follow-up plan.
This oversimplifies the cold call process to a certain degree, but it also proves just how simple it can be.
Remember this: you can’t build a meaningful business relationship within a matter of minutes. It doesn’t work like this. A cold call is the first building block in a relationship that could eventually turn into something special for your business. Be sure to treat it as such.
- Offer Value Now
In a perfect world, every cold call would result in an immediate sale. Even if you get the right person on the phone, this is very rare.
You can improve your chance of keeping the prospect hooked by providing immediate value.
Don’t get too far ahead of yourself. Don’t attempt to push the lead through your sales funnel within a matter of minutes. Instead, nurture the relationship, one step at a time, to build trust.
Take for example a sales representative for an employment screening company. This person has the goal of selling screening services to HR professionals. Rather than “go for the kill,” it makes more sense to offer immediate value. This could include:
- Free sample screening to show what the company has to offer.
- Free report that explains a particular aspect of the industry, such as the importance of background screening.
When you offer something of value during the first call, especially something free, you increase your chance of hooking the lead. Furthermore, you have another reason to follow-up in the near future.
- Connect in Another Way
How much can you really discuss with a prospect you called out of nowhere? You are lucky to be on the phone for a few minutes, which is far from enough time to build a personal relationship. This is why you should seek other ways to connect with the person.
Here are some ideas:
- Social media, such as LinkedIn and Twitter
- Direct mail follow-up
Once you have a free minute in your schedule, take the time to reach out to each prospect, when you see fit, to connect via another method.
In the business world, the best way of doing so is LinkedIn. This is beneficial for many reasons:
- Shows that you remember speaking with the person.
- Proves that you care about doing business with them.
- Allows you to learn more about the prospect, while also selling yourself (through your profile, recommendations, etc.)
- Another outlet for future communication.
This is one of the most overlooked, yet effective, ways of building a relationship during the sales cycle.
- Rely on the Power of a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Tool
The name says it all: Customer Relationship Management. In other words, this type of tool allows you to better manage relationships with customers (as well as prospects).
Choosing the best CRM is not easy, but there are enough options that you should be able to find make a confident decision soon enough.
The most important relationship building features of a CRM include:
- List management
- Campaign management
- Follow-up tracking
- Integrated analytics
It is easy to get excited about using a CRM. It is just as easy to lose interest, getting bored with the features and bypassing the system altogether. From a relationship building perspective, you can’t afford to let this happen.
- Be True to Your Word
Have you ever heard the phrase, “you are only as good as your word.” This definitely holds true in the sales process. If you want to create a solid relationship that is built to last, you must be a man (or woman) of your word.
If you promise something during the sales cycle, be sure to live up to this once you close the deal. Not only is it the right thing to do, but there is a good chance the other party will remember what you said.
Stretching the truth may help you close a deal, but it won’t do anything for your relationship over the long run. When you are true to your word, it will benefit your relationship in many ways:
- The person is more likely to stick with you over the long haul (it is more cost effective to retain an existing customer than to find a new one).
- Better chance of receiving referrals (check out these referral marketing stats for more on why this is important).
- Easier to sell add-on services and/or products in the future.
Guy Kawasaki says it best:
“The goal is to provide inspiring information that moves people to action.”
With these five strategies in mind, you will find it easier to nurture a relationship from cold call to closed deal.