237: Cold Calling | Master Sales Series

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You asked for it, we listened! We are bringing back our coaching episodes. George Leith is a mad man that truly ENJOYS cold calling.

Our wicked host, George Leith, breaks down cold calling this week. He walks us through George’s Top Tips for being successful when making cold calls. He goes through how to handle the rejection when a prospect flat out says—no. He draws from his experience and tactics on how to win the “Unicorn” or the “Whale” that you’ve been dreaming of closing. George even tells you how to get rid of the “ums” in your pitches. Listen to learn more!

George is a thoroughly experienced, educational and inspirational sales and marketing keynote speaker who can enlighten your company or professional association on the best practices for transforming sales and utilizing social media’s innovative concepts to align your digital media marketing with current trends and prepare it for the unpredictable times ahead. As a sales transformation keynote speaker, author and guest university lecturer, he has a unique ability to demystify concepts and inspire businesses and professionals to understand and truly embrace the potential that digital transformation has for many business objectives including sales, business development, and marketing for B2B, non-profit organizations, as well as government institutions.



George: It’s the “Conquer Local Podcast,” and we’re jumping back into some of what we’ve actually found to be the most popular additions to the podcast, and that is some coaching additions. And from the feedback that we’ve been receiving on LinkedIn, which is the best place to speak to us, we wanted to get into just a few of these items. The first one this week is going to be around cold calling, and what cold calling looks like in 2019. And this comes from all of the organizations that I have the privilege of working with around the world and some of the research that we’ve been doing into the art of cold calling.

And then as a grizzled-up old sales veteran, I’m going to talk about how actually cold calling in 2019 hasn’t really changed that much in the last 30 some odd years. It’s all coming up. We’re going to teach this week on cold calling in 2019 when the “Conquer Local Podcast” continues after this.

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George: We’re digging into cold calling, and how it may have changed in 2019, and what are some of the tactics you need to be using if you’re going to utilize cold calling to help you reach your sales goals in the weeks and months to come. So I want to talk about the very first piece of being an effective cold caller, and that is owning the value proposition that you are bringing to the customer.

It is vitally important that you have a level of confidence as you step in to do some of this cold calling. You know, they can smell your fear. So you need to be very careful that you have that value proposition nailed down, and that you have a number of different ways that that could go. You know, you’ve heard me talk about elevator pitches before. As you own that value proposition, you should be practicing different elevator pitches. And the best way to do this is with some role-playing inside your sales team or the sales manager.

Or, you know, one of my favorite places to get practiced up is when you’re driving in traffic to the steering wheel, you know, practice at the steering wheel, and get those elevator pitches nailed down with the various different value propositions. Now, adapting the message and looking for the highest conversion talk track should always be the thing in the back of our mind. So we’re trying to nail the value proposition, we’re working on the different elevator pitches, and then we’re adapting the message.


Practice Makes Perfect

Now the first place we should do this before we actually start cold calling is just doing some practicing with some trusted advisors, or some colleagues, or people who have been there, done that in the space, mentors. Maybe it might be that we could say, “Hey, I’m working on this new cold-calling technique here. I want to try it on you.” Now I know that that causes some anxiety when you first start it. But after a while, you’ll start to realize that this work that you’re doing before you ever do it with a prospect is very, very valuable because you’re also going to keep adapting the message when you start talking to your prospects.

So the cold-call technique you’ll use at the beginning might look completely different in a couple of months. And that’s what I seem to be finding. I actually like cold calling, and that’s not me just being sadistic. I really enjoy it. It’s one of the things that I had the biggest challenge with earlier in my career. And, you know, one of the places where we do some cold calling is when we’re at conventions, and I’ve learned a lot when you’re working in conventions.

You’re walking up to people that you don’t even know, and it’s a great place to hone those elevator pitches to learn how to be able to pivot right on the spot, have your head on a swivel, and to just move that presentation. You know, see here’s the thing. I was cold calling all day, and I got rejected a whole bunch of times. Yeah, no shit, Sherlock. You are going to get rejected. That’s just part of cold calling. You actually have to be embracing the rejection. You’ve got to be learning from every one of the rejections that you’re getting.

And I’m not just talking about an objection, I’m talking like an outright, “No, I have no time for you,” because what that rejection is teaching you is that you don’t have it nailed down yet. You’ve got to come up with some sort of compelling reason for that person that you’re cold calling to have the conversation with you. Now, here’s something that I learned a long time ago, that prospect put their pants on one leg at a time just like you did. There really is no difference.

They’re not on a pedestal or anything like that. They’re just a human being like you, and you’ve got to come up with a way to connect with them. And one of the best ways to do that is to be nice, be Canadian-nice. Like, be really nice. And the person that you want to be the nicest to is the gatekeeper because a lot of times, the art of cold calling is getting by that gatekeeper to the person that you really want to talk to. And you need to be able to put a value proposition in front of the gatekeeper that they will move you to the next stage and getting you speaking to the person who may be the decision maker.


Know When to Walk Away

Now, the other piece is I want you to be prepared to walk away. Part of embracing rejection is realizing when there’s not an opportunity there, when there’s not a fit. I find that sales in 2019 is as much about disqualifying the prospect as it is about qualifying the prospect because, you know, the one thing we don’t have more of is time. There’s only a finite amount of time that we have, and we want to deploy those hours against the biggest opportunities. So cold calling can be very effective at you being able to figure out which prospects are the best fit for your organization.

So here’s some of George’s top tips for cold calling, and I have come up with just a few things. So you want to practice your elevator pitches until they’re 100% um free. What um does is it takes away from whether I should listen to you or not. If you stand there, and you’re searching for words, and you’re going, “Uh, ah, uh,” you know, that’s not an effective cold call. You’ve not practiced enough. And then have reference customers ready to go. I don’t mean names that you can use, I mean names, and phone numbers, and email addresses that you can give to people to say, “Here’s someone I work with that will vouch for me.”

Those testimonials are vitally important in 2019, especially when we’re dealing with potential buyers that know more about the product or service than we do that we’re representing, and, also, it’s super easy for them to do research on us. So, you want to have those reference customers ready to go. You know, one of the ways that I have found, and one of the exercises that I found, and, you know, I want you to channel your inner Alex Trebek “Jeopardy!” What a fantastic show. We’ve found that if you go online, there’s a thing called jeopardylabs.com where you can build your own Jeopardy game and utilize that to just fire random questions out.


Ready, Set, Go! Games can Perfect Pitches

And that helps you in crafting those elevator pitches and being able to deal with the various comments that are going to come at you. So, that’s a great tip on being able to help craft those messages. We also have a couple exercises that we have crafted here for you. So the first one is what I like to call pitch Scattergories. At the start of each round, one player is going to either use the Jeopardy board, or spin the wheel, and come up with some random thing that they’re going to have to speak about. And what I like about this is there’s no patterns to it.

And the fact that it’s random means you got to think on your feet. So we’ve got a number of different categories on the wheel, we spin the wheel, we go to the Jeopardy board, and it could just be something like, you know, lead gen, and you’ve got to come up with some things as to how your solution can help develop lead for the customers, or, you know, SEO, and you’ve just got to randomly come up with some sort of value proposition around SEO. So, you get my point. The fact that it’s random in the game like Scattergories, or on a wheel of winning, or on Jeopardy, or something like that gives you the ability to just have those answers off the top of your head.

Exercise number two is along the same veins, I like to call it “What’s Up?” So receiving some sort of a lead from a stranger. So you’re sitting with your team, and they just give you, again, that random item. It’s being able to deal with the random things that come at you very quickly and confidently, and then to be able to present that value proposition. It’s very cool to see how these two exercises, just these two basic exercises, can help you as a salesperson or your sales team become a lot better at that long lost art of cold calling in 2019.

Now, here’s a great one that I was able to do with one of my colleagues here. Just recently, we went to a convention, we walked into the room, we didn’t know anybody in the room, and it was, you know, $100 bills on the table. Whoever shows up in an hour with the most business cards is going to win. It’s not like you can just randomly walk up to people and ask them for your business cards. You have to have some sort of a conversation, and they also don’t like it when you reach into their pockets. So, you have to have some sort of conversation to get the business card, and it gives you, you know, just some really good practice in having those conversations with random folks.

Another exercise that we have used that’s pretty cool is called “Sitting on a Plane.” So the exercise is you got two chairs, and you are sitting first class, you got upgraded, it’s fantastic, and you happen to be sitting next to the CEO of the prospect that your organization has wanted for years. They are the whale, the one that everybody talks about, the unicorn, and you are now sitting next to the CEO. How are you going to have a conversation that’s compelling so that they don’t go into their briefcase and grab their noise-canceling headphones? How are you going to have a conversation to keep them off the noise-canceling headphones? So that is just a couple of exercises that you might want to utilize to help you build your cold calling skills here in 2019.



The “Conquer Local Podcast,” we’ve got teaching episodes coming over the next few weeks, but I want to talk a little bit about the survey. We are conducting a survey, the largest survey of local sales people ever conducted, and complete details are on our website at conquerlocal.com. And when you fill out the survey, it takes like 10 minutes, 10 minutes at the most to fill this thing out. And for those 10 minutes, we’re going to give you, potentially, a $5,000 prize, and that is a trip to “Conquer Local” June 10th through 13th in San Diego, California.

We’re looking for information inside this survey on the state of local sales. And then our team of data experts is going to distill this all down, and we will be bringing the findings from Conquer Local Survey, the largest ever survey of local sales people in upcoming episodes. And I am going to be presenting all of this information when we stand on stage at “Conquer Local,” the conference that’s happening June 10th through 13th. LinkedIn, the best place to reach out, and to speak to us, and to give us suggestions of what you would like to see in upcoming episodes.

The other thing that we’re elated by is all of the suggestions of future guests, and those are coming in like hotcakes on the LinkedIn channel as well. So, feel free to reach out with suggestions of who we should interview here on the “Conquer Local Podcast”. My name is George Leith. I’ll see you when I see you.