Home > Cold Calling > Rookie needs advice on B2C health product cold calling

Rookie needs advice on B2C health product cold calling

Hi guys, Mike from Sweden here. I'm 21 years old and I've been looking for a good sales forum for a while.
I love what you've done with the place!
I've already been noticing alot of incredible posts by the greats, it's obvious you guys are passionate about what you do.

This is going to be a long read, so bear with me. I think it's necessary for you to get a good idea of where I'm at.
I'll do my best to keep it interesting!

Anyway, I think I need a little help.
I just got into this little telemarketing agency.

Prior to this, a year back I got a few months worth of experience cold calling for a major bank, selling credit cards basically.
To my surprise it went really well, and I quickly escalated into averaging the most sales a day in the project.
Partly because I quickly decided to excel at it, and partly because it was a pretty great offer.
It was a traveller's credit card and part of the offer was a significant rebate on a travel to a destination of the client's choice.
By some miracle it went home in the "sticks", haha.

Eventually I also sold loan insurance, which was incredibly difficult. Probably way beyond my capabilities as a rookie..
Especially considering the miniscule training we got which was all old school "boiler room" sales style.
I think you guys know what I mean.. The most "advanced" technique we learnt was saying a benefit and adding a "And that's great, don't you think?" to get a yes out of the client.
It sorta ended there with me going back to my studies and the agency going bankrupt because of failure to deliver on their ambitious projects.

And now I just got back into it again, in a different agency at a different location.
It's much the same. My workmates are a colorful mix of incredible salesmen who keep winning the Xboxes and Mallorca trips month after month, and the utterly uninterested people who hate telemarketing.
The latter seem to get replaced all the time by equally disinterested youths just looking to make an extra buck after school.
The coaches are of the "C'MON GUYS, SELL! CLOSE! SELL!" variety. But all in all it's a friendly little place, surprisingly relaxed for a TM site, apart from when the coaches walk by to "subtly" keep you on your toes.

But here's the thing.. I think I'm beginning to love this job which so many people seem to hate.
I love people, I love talking to people and I love talking deep subjects and needs. And I love what cold calling turns me into,
an energetic social juggernaut, and generally just more comfortable about myself. I don't think I can stand working in any lower tempo than this. It's so stimulating I'm considering it a career option, which is funny coming from a musician without any plans or concrete decisions about the future.

I love the sales lore, the stories, the great techniques, the books and motivational videos I keep looking up as soon as I get some free time. I REALLY want to get good at this, and I keep feeling it's actually possible.
For now, the pay isn't really that great, but I keep seeing the possibilities and opportunities, considering I develop my skills sufficiently and further my branches in the future.

But right now.. I need to grab my current assignment by the balls.

I'm selling this health product, an Omega 3 supplement. It's actually a really good product, it keeps showing up in the top of all the tests and comparisons that count, it's highly pure, natural and refined, and the price is very competitive.
The company's service is great, and that's where this product differs. That both a good thing and a problem. It differs from what people are used to.

The product model is a subscription where you get your supplements delivered to your doorstep so you are assured a steady intake, at specific intervals that you can customize, and you can cancel the subscription at any time.

Despite these benefits, I rarely even get the chance to describe them, and alot of the time I doubt they actually are benefits.
I keep all the information handy, all the arguments, the statistics on competitors, everything you need.

Yet, 97% of the time I get the good ol' "I'm not interested."

That's right folks, 97% straight up no. Out of the 750 or so calls I've dispatched, a measly 3% have been closes. On a 6 hour work evening, I've gotten everything from 3 closes, 5 closes, just 1 and even ZERO.

Since I got a pair of golden fives and fours, I'm pretty safe, since it's much better than most of my "competition", but nowhere near where I want to be, and nowhere near those greats.

I'll walk you through my process. I quickly scrapped the script, I'm a much better conversational artist without it, but I follow it's outline pretty much, and besides the small talk I say the same thing most of the time.
Here's how it usually goes:

M: "Hi, my name is Mike and I'm calling for XXXXX.. I'm looking for Mrs. Prospect." (I'm mostly on the list for women since the men's list is a dead end, guys just don't buy into health products!)

"Hi, prospect here."

M:" Great! Do you have the time/I hope I'm not interrupting to much"

"Go ahead" (or Not right now/I'm not interested/What are you selling/Another ****ing telemarketer *click*)

M: "Excellent, l'm just wondering if you're aware of Omega 3"

"Yes" (However it mostly ends around here, yet usually they're kind enough to mention they eat alot of fish or already have a supplement before hanging up.. or "i'm not interested in omega 3/I don't buy over the phone" etc

M:Then I presume you're aware of it's many benefits.

"Yes/Well I've heard it's supposed to be good/It's good for the heart, right?"

Maybe some small talk, like "that's right it's great for the heart and cardiovascular system, it's good for the joints
and helps you get more up and aware. It's actually an essential fatty acid, the body can't produce it by itself so you need it in your diet."

M: How do you get your intake of your omega 3 right now?

"Well, I eat fish/I eat ALOT of fish/I eat fish and supplements"

M: How often do you eat fish on average?

If they say 2-3 times a week it's usually dead by this time.. The health board recommends you eat it 3-4 times a week, and if not you should take a supplement, but if it's more than once a week the conversation dies around here..

The times it's a "I don't eat alot of it I guess, and I've heard supplements are good".. I get a sale. Could happen alot more if you ask me!

I usually start going into supplements here, generalizing alot.

half the time it's a "I've never eaten these kinds of supplements in my life, and I've made it this far. See ya."
I do manage to get into their motivation around it, and it's always of the kind "I think it's unnatural, you never know what chemicals they stick into that stuff" etc.. "I'm not interested", plain and simple.

And the other half, when it's not the above easy sale, they do take a supplement.

So i start asking.. And it gets tricky here.
M: What kind of supplement do you buy then? For how long have you been taking it, do you feel it's working out for you, how much does it cost, are you satisfied with the price you pay.. and similar questions.

And the information ranges around:
"I buy this particular brand, i've been using it for a while. I GUESS it's good, I'm satisfied with it."
They're always satisfied with the price. Figures, since they bought it in the first place!

"I get some brand I don't know off the drugstore or in the supermarket, I have no idea what I pay for it, but yeah I'm satisfied"
I hate these ones because it's difficult for me to assess the situation then and compare it with my product.
Ridiculously difficult to further the conversation.

"I get this and that.. I don't know if it's that great, I think it's a little expensive"
With these ones I have a fair chance. But many times they don't see much value in supplements..

"I don't know and I don't care"
You can tell where these conversations lead..

They are all reluctant about switching to a new product. That's my biggest challenge.

I go into different questions here depending on the feel I get. Like,
M: There's alot of different products on the market. What made you choose this particular one?

"Um, someone recommended it/I don't know I just picked one/My daughter sells health products so I get it for free, bye"

M: The quality can differ alot between various supplements.. You might be aware of that?

"Yeah/No, it's all the same ****"

M: It's important to look into the concentration of omega 3.. Usually it's around 40% if you get it in the store. That's acceptable but some are of a higher concentration and regarded as more pure.. The price can change alot as well.. Is price a big factor for you as well?

"Uh-huh, I see. Of course price is important, but it has to be good quality."
(One woman actually said "You have to realize people are idiots, they will believe it's higher quality if it's more expensive. Don't say your product is cost-effective, even if it is") I'm not sure how true that is.. People are reluctant to trying if they have to pay more.

M: You might have heard of our product XXXX?

If they aren't a customer already, in which case it's a dead conversation, "Nope"

M: Well it is made by company XXXX, which is norwegian and specializes in omega 3. It's of a 72% concentration and very pure, thoroughly tested and approved. It's a great source of Omega 3.

"Okay." (Sometimes with interest, sometimes with a yawn.. Tends to end around here too.. My clients seem to lose interest in talking Omega 3 very quickly.)

M: I saw you paid X for your product. Our product is much cheaper a month, because it's on a subscription basis and you get it delivered to your home.

"I never subscribe to stuff/I want to buy when I feel like it/"
Bye bye, potential close.

"Okay but you have to pay shipping/Do you tie yourself up to a specific period?"
To which both the answer is no, and a potential close is nearby.

I like to tie together the information I got from the prospect here, and basically repeat how well tested it is, and that you get to try it out without tying yourself up. The most cost-effective alternative is a 6 month supply, and you get it delivered twice a year if you keep up your subscription. But you have to pay for the entire 6 months at first. Month-wise, it's less than half than most of the other products, but added up it's more, and I suspect that makes people reluctant.

"Okay, sounds interesting"
or something like "6 months is far too long time for trying it out" and the shorter periods are not price-competitive enough with their current product. I get the feeling if they hear something they don't like, they're reluctant about hearing any different offers.

But If i even get this far, something has to seriously go wrong for there not to be a sale.

So that's about it. I guess my major problem is this is not really that big an issue in the average household, people don't believe in supplements, and if they do they're reluctant about switching. If they're interested in switching, they're reluctant in subscribing. If they're even open to purchasing over the phone.

The product rarely even comes into question!
If they are that well-informed on these products they usually already have a good deal or sell the stuff themselves.

I try my best to make sure I get back to people, but usually the first call is make-or-break.. And it's the sales a day that keep me alive, not the amount of people I've promised to get back to.

If you've made it this far, I really appreciate it. I think I need a better way to gain their interest in the beginning, but I'm abit stumped as to how to do that. And there are so many factors here, which I hope shows from my script excerpt.

I would really appreciate any thoughts on this. I'm willing to make a change at any or all points of my method. - by MikeWest
Wow.... Welcome.... was this a first post? There is too much there to digest all at once, and you are the only one see's it clearly.

Break it down to way smaller bites and you'll probably receive much more advise... :)

Much Aloha... :cool: - by rattus58
Hi rattus. I've been enjoying your posts man.

Okay, let's try again.. Condensed version.

I'm cold calling for a health product, an Omega 3 fish oil supplement.
It's a subscription where they get a 6 months supply at the start, and can then choose to continue subscribing.

It's a great product, one of the most highly refined on the market, and the service is great. It's much cheaper than the stuff that's in the stores.
However, I don't get through with this message to my prospects.

I have a difficulty gaining interest at the beginning, getting the attention of my prospects. I'm inexperienced with health product sales.

I'm good at asking questions, but I have difficulty leading the questions the right way.

I usually simply ask if they have any knowledge of Omega 3, then probing if they eat alot of fish, if they have any experience with supplements, what supplements they're using, how content they are, and how open they would be to trying another product.

If they're using a competitor's product, I have difficulty getting their thought processes on why they're using that particular one, and they're always extremely hesitant about switching.
Even if I explain in detail why and how my product is of higher quality, and cheaper, it doesn't seem to matter.

So far I've deducted the following major objections, and I have trouble straddling them:
The decision of which health product to use is not of big importance
The effects are ambiguous, so it's doubtful whether a different product will make that much difference
People are hesitant about subscriptions
People think supplements are unnatural
People are generally hesitant about buying over the phone

Of every single person who already has a supplement, they're perfectly content with it. Asking any sort of questions like "In what way could your product be improved" leads nowhere.

I find it very difficult communicating the benefits and the importance of using the right product over the phone.
Even asking "Would you be open to comparing your product with mine to see if it would be favorable for you to switch?" ends the conversation. I'm kind of stumped to say the least! - by MikeWest

I find it very difficult communicating the benefits and the importance of using the right product over the phone.

Even asking "Would you be open to comparing your product with mine to see if it would be favorable for you to switch?" ends the conversation. I'm kind of stumped to say the least!
Ok... Got it now. You're asking all the right questions and getting all the wrong answers. I remember that day like yesterday even... I asked her if she wanted a new dining room table... would be nice.. with a cutaway so we could extend the table to 10... would be practical about once every 5 years but ok.... nice touch... i asked her if a corner that could be removed, now that we have a new grandbaby of 8 days and a high chair could be brought closer to mommy.... or daddy... or grandaddy the two on the ends anyways... would that be better than the kid 3 feet from the table mmmmm yes.... Ok... and how much do you think something like that would cost love?..... thousands... so not now.... ok... how about if I told you the whole thing.... $600... provided I had a new table saw first.... All the right questions... ;bg

Ok... this isn't helping... If I was going out to market this Omega 3 supplement I think I'd ask you, "Mike, do you know anyone who's had a heart attack or stroke? What if you had a heart attack or a stroke today how would that impact your job, and your family?"

Assuming what should be the obvious... "Mike, there are two forms of protection on the market today against critical illness; one insures you against the financial devastation that results when you have a critical illness, and the other helps prevent it in the first place. May I take a minute to discuss the second approach with you? [and if that doens't help, as soon as I get my insurance license, I'll be back to talk to you about the first... lagh2;]

Heart disease, womens number 1 killer, and critical illnesses such as heart attack and stroke, alzheimers, arthritis, possibly cancer, high blood pressure, all benefit by eating regular diet of fish. Most of us don't follow that kind of a regimen, and you'd have had to have started when you were about 10, but if there was a simple ASSURED way of knowing that we'd get what we needed to help stay healthy would that be worth investing in?

I'm not trying to replace your gym membership, but the health results are similar.. all gain for no pain... and way less money.

I've been dreaming up all kinds of payment approaches...

But it's not too late. One way would be to spend $100 a night in a sushi bar a couple of nights a week, or spend $9 a pound at the market each week or you could benefit by properly designed formulations of our supplements for maybe $.30 a day up front for 6 months, and start receiving health benefits in as little as 3 weeks.

Mike, who exactly benefits by your good health? Is that all? Are you married? What about your wife, your kids. If you remain healthy, your dreams for your children and your family can be realized, but if you're not, their dreams might be replaced with expensive medical bills and loss of income. [Now I'm really taking that insurance exam!!]

You cannot lose. This is good for you no matter what. Take it for 6 months and see your doctor. Get a blood test. See for yourself. It's not worth not doing, and if you're going to do, doing it with a leader in the industry would make the most sense wouldn't it?

I'm rambling here... brainstorming really trying to get a fix on your product, which by the way, I've seen the results of using.

I don't know if this helps, hurts, or gave you a headache... but it's my best shot at the moment... :)

Much Aloha.. Tom :cool: - by rattus58
Wow. That is a bomb, man. Seriously heavy stuff.

I'm a little unsure though because I see 2 problems with this hard hitting approach.

First of all, we are heavily advised against mentioning medical conditions in conjunction with the product, as doing that legally places it in the medicine department which it is not.
No matter how well it works. Of course, we tend to cheat a little bit with using "Heart and vascular disease", since studies have shown it reduces the risk of those by 40%, but other than that you have to tip-toe, and refer to stuff like "good for the heart" instead.. It's legalese stuff.

The second thing is, and this is something I discussed with my coach, how is Jane Doe going to respond to such a question?
"Who are you? I discuss such things with my doctor, not a stranger"
I've had similar responses as soon as I venture into querying about their general health and concerns.
Where in the conversation would I place such a question?

So far I've gotten some results explaining the benefits, then expecting them to say they have joint issues, heart issues, or just interested in getting more alert and stress-free. It differs alot between clients though.

It's real difficult to ask these types of questions the -right- way!

However, good news.. One of the guys in the project is sending these things out like a madman, and i got to listen to one of his calls. Learnt alot by it, most importantly keeping it simple, focusing on explaining the company, and then focusing on that what people get home is not the product itself, but information about the product after which they can decide to sit back and get it shipped home or call back and say no.
It's alot about how you put it. But I got some good results with it tonight.

Have to let alot of the new stuff sink in however. Cheers. - by MikeWest
Hi Mike.... asking someone for permission to send them information is a lot different than asking them to buy something over the phone. I guess I misunderstood your need.

We send out cancer brochures and Critical Illness Brochures to people during "blitzes" that we do. We do this every quarter or so just for grins, but it involves us calling people and asking them if they'd mind us sending them a brochure and the reason we're calling first is we'd like them to read it and not throw it in the trash, fair enough? They usually ask questions about what it is, and then...

We send the brochure and then we follow up with a phonecall or knock on the door with Business Owners.

I have NO IDEA as to what the rules are about supplements in america. I know that if the FDA hasn't looked at something, you cannot claim health benefits and now, they're trying to establish supplements as pharmaceutical if you claim health benefits.

This is actually crazy because EVERYTHING is a drug if it modifies your health. Limes for treating scurvy, with this point of view, should be considered a drug. Garlic to reduce blood pressure, should be considered a drug. Fish Oil to reduce blood pressure (and Fish Oil if I'm not mistaken, has been tested by the FDA) and so I believe the results that folks promote for fish oil are the FDA's numbers.. I can be mistaken...

So tell me Mike... if you cannot promote/explaine the benefits of a supplement, what do you promote?

Have a blast. Working with a mentor is always best. Have him criticize your phone conversation or listen and or tape the conversation for training purposes to see how you do.

Much Aloha. - by rattus58
It's abit tricky, it's not -just- information. It's a detailed description about the offer, and you're given 2 weeks notice to decide if you want the product. If you don't want it, you have to call or e-mail the company.

So the basic idea is to get them interested in the product but make sure they know they will have plenty of time to decide.

Part of the problem is some people don't trust that, they expect to get tricked into some binding agreement or something by merely accepting that.

I have NO IDEA as to what the rules are about supplements in america. I know that if the FDA hasn't looked at something, you cannot claim health benefits and now, they're trying to establish supplements as pharmaceutical if you claim health benefits.

This is actually crazy because EVERYTHING is a drug if it modifies your health. Limes for treating scurvy, with this point of view, should be considered a drug. Garlic to reduce blood pressure, should be considered a drug. Fish Oil to reduce blood pressure (and Fish Oil if I'm not mistaken, has been tested by the FDA) and so I believe the results that folks promote for fish oil are the FDA's numbers.. I can be mistaken...

So tell me Mike... if you cannot promote/explaine the benefits of a supplement, what do you promote?
I know, it's crazy. It's the same thing in sweden, if it is a supplement it is classified as a food product, thusly there cannot be any description of the product preventing or treating any state of illness. That would classify it as a pharmaceutical product, and that's a violation of some conduct.. I don't have any knowledge beyond that.

The company's information for salesmen is that we are encouraged to reword it as "good for the heart", not "scientifically proven to prevent risk of cardiovascular disease by 40%", for instance. The results are there, I just can't use them in that manner.

So tell me Mike... if you cannot promote/explaine the benefits of a supplement, what do you promote?
Reword it, reword it, reword it. Problem is, that muds it up. Mud doesn't work well over the phone.

I decided to ask like this; do you know the three primary areas that benefit from omega 3 fatty acids?
Then explain how the cardiovascular system, the brain and the joints benefit from it. - by MikeWest
If all else fails... be clear.... :)

If all else fails... be straight...

If all else fails... talk to them like you would your brother or sister... maybe not literally... with my kids it'd be like hey bro... what's going down... or something similar... msnwnk;

I think your approach is as good as any... :)

Much Aloha.. Tom :cool: - by rattus58
Cold calling is a form of prospecting.

Prospecting is a mining term.

You're mining for people who have an interest, an awareness, and/or a value of Omega3.

A certain percentage of people do.

Some of them might be current users. Some might be considering using the supplement.

Those are the people you will sell to. You will sell them by engaging them with an offer. - by Ace Coldiron
Weekly Updates!
Questions and Answers about Selling
Subscribe to our mailing list to get threads and posts sent to your email address weekly - Free of Charge.