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Cold Calling Ideas and Tips

I kinda got into this a little bit in introducing myself to this forum and got some good feedback. Rainmaker linked to a thread that was helpful as well. I wanted to start this thread though to get more feedback. I'll try and keep this as short as I can.

I am a freight broker and I work from my home. For those who don't know, a freight broker finds carriers to haul their customers' freight. I am an agent for a carrier/broker company who does my billing and such and in doing so take 40% off of my profit for each load I cover. The company I work for is based in Alabama and I am in Iowa, their only agent in Iowa. I have a small customer base from previous contacts, as I have been in the warehouse/trucking business for about 15 years. I have only been brokering freight for 2 years and just over a year on my own. I started on my own with no formal sales training. I figured I knew enough about the business it should be a snap. I went to Barnes and Noble and purchased 3 books on sales, since the last sales pitch I had given was a proposal for marriage, I wanted to read up on sales and wanted find out what I was about to get into. By the way, I wish I had bought some books on the whole marriage thing to, but that is off the topic. I bought the Sales Bible, How To Become a Rainmaker, and Solution Selling. I should also say the company I am an agent for has been really no help as far as developing leads or any kind of training whatsoever, let alone support, but that is extremely normal for what I have found in this business. Other than that they are a good company to be aligned with, they have a good rep in the industry.

I poured through those 3 books and thought I had a pretty good grasp. Now, I do recieve freight from customers on a daily basis, for the most part it is tough freight to deal with as far as what I can make off each load and as far as how difficult it is to find trucks for certain loads. So I knew right off that my main source for new and possibly better business and customers would entail cold calling by phone. By phone because there are only so many manufacturers in my area that I could meet face to face. I had a number of contacts from previous business and I had purchased a manufacturers directory that I went through and seperated out several thousand factories I could call, all out of state.

It started out fairly well, the motivation part anyway. I was making about 60-80 phone calls a day to places I had never called before and I would say 95% were straight out rejections, whether it be they didn't use brokers or didn't want to make a change, or they were customer routed, never rejected because of who I was as a person which was nice.

I got some leads out of this but most were companies that ship on a sporadic basis, and as I got busier working loads for other customers the calls got fewer on those busy days. But I never got busy enough to not have to make calls though. Now, a year later, I may make about 20 calls a day, if I feel fired up for some reason.

What I have found, other than the problems I listed above, is that it is almost impossible to establish a rapport with someone over the phone and within enough time before they tell me they aren't interested. I have tweeked my script as time has gone by and think I have it about as good as I can get it, or as good as my self taught training could get me, but I just don't see enough opportunity to "wedge my foot in the door" so to speak.

I think a huge part of my motivation problem now has come from just feeling "battle weary" from making so many calls with so little results. I guess I am looking for any ideas or tips as to how to do better or how to get over feeling "battle weary". Anything at all would be a help. Thanks in advance! - by ogre131
Here is a link to a few cold calling tips. Jason, maybe your cold call offering (script) could use a tune up? I work with real estate agents who are cold calling all day long. Much of what you describe I have heard from these agents too. Would you be willing to post your cold calling script? - by AZBroker
I agree with AZBroker. If you absolutely have to make COLD cold calls, where you have no idea who the person is, take a close look at what you're saying to try to secure an appointment.

If you're winging it, well, you're not going to get anywhere and your hatred for calling is going to swell. The rejection will kill you as you try to manufacture what to say on the fly.

Also, buy "Earning What You're Worth?" by Dudley and Goodson. Money VERY well spent on a variety of call reluctance types and how to deal with them. And a funny book. Also, read "Never Eat Alone" by Ferrazzi. It's a great guide to building a network of professional friends in a professional way. As you build that network, you rely less and less on cold calling (not that it ever goes away entirely).

Don't get down on yourself, you're not unique here. Very few salespeople DON'T face this at some point. Just build a step-by-step, easy-to-achieve system to pull yourself out and you will. - by BrandonH
Here it is-

Hi. My name is Jason and I'm with (my company name).

(they respond)

I'd like to introduce myself and (company name) to you and tell you about what we do and what we can offer you. Are you looking to add any new carriers at this time?

(if they respond no)

So your current carrier is working out ok for you, on time, right equipment, etc etc.

(if they respond yes)

If I could I'd like to leave my number and fax you some info on us to you in case you ever need some additional help or if something happens to change your current situation.

If I get voice mail the message I leave is this-

My name is Jason and I'm with (company name) and I'd like to talk to you about (company name) and how we can help you with your shipping needs. You can reach me at 877-***-****, and that is my direct line. Again that's 877-***-****. Thanks and I hope to talk to you soon.
What does everyone think? - by ogre131
thanks for that link Brandon. I like what I see there, some different things to try. I know my current script works but I have always felt it could be better but wasn't sure what to change. - by ogre131
What does everyone think?
Jason, kudos for posting your script. Not everyone is willing to put themself on the line like that. ;)

From my viewpoint your script didn't state what you do.

Here is bare bones example:
This is Jason (Last Name) with (Company Name). We help shippers by finding reliable motor carriers and coordinating shipping needs. Is this a service you would use?
The offer could probably use some tweaking but I think the structure would work. Your thoughts? - by AZBroker
I think that looks really good too AZ. I am getting to a point already where I am getting excited to write up some new stuff and try it out. I honestly was at a loss as to why I wasn't getting more response and I am so glad I found this forum already. And to be honest, posting my script made me real nervous. After reading some of the other posts I've seen here I felt really under-educated about sales, however, after reading those same posts I felt if there was a place where people would be helpful, it was here. None the less, I was frightened to post it. - by ogre131
And don't take that last post as I don't want anymore tips. Please keep them coming! - by ogre131
Jason, kudos for posting your script. Not everyone is willing to put themself on the line like that.
That does take a lot of guts. Good effort Jason.

The offer could probably use some tweaking but I think the structure would work. Your thoughts?
Assuming that "finding reliable motor carriers and coordinating shipping" is something clients want, the script looks like it would be effective.

Jason, what are clients wanting? From a different direction... why do clients typically use your service? - by Agent Smith
Jason,

Following AZ's script outline, focus on the fact that he says:

We help companies ______ (insert short benefit statement) while also ______ (second short benefit statement
So, what that means is you need to clarify your company's competitive advantage and what you do that benefits the customer.

For example, if you were selling men's cologne, you wouldn't say we help you smell better while also covering up any embarassing body odor.

You'd say we help you make a statement the moment you walk into a room while also turning you into a babe-magnet.

So, figure out what the equivalent of babe magnet is to your business. And, the first call, IMHO, is to sell the appointment. If you're not making on site sales calls, then sell the next phone call, for example: I'd like to schedule some time next week when we could discuss how XXX Company can reduce your freight costs (or whatever).

It also sounds like you need a better prospect list. If you're only talking to people who do a small bit of business with your company, consider how you could get a list of the big users in the industry.

Hope this helps.

AZ - I really like your site - great stuff.

Kathleen - by KSA-Mktg
And, the first call, IMHO, is to sell the appointment. If you're not making on site sales calls, then sell the next phone call, for example: I'd like to schedule some time next week when we could discuss how XXX Company can reduce your freight costs (or whatever)
If they can't buy your service over the phone then don't try and sell it over the phone. I agree, make "selling the appointment" the objective of your call. - by Liberty
If they can't buy your service over the phone then don't try and sell it over the phone. I agree, make "selling the appointment" the objective of your call.
Are you willing to make multiple contacts? Here is why I ask: I believe they will alway keep you at arms length, but will be willing to take one small step toward you if it is not too far out of their comfort zone.

Picture a straight line. You are on one end. They are on the other. The goal is only to get them to take one step toward you. Ask for something small. Permission to call again. Permission to send them your brochure. Better yet, do you have something valuable you can give them for free? You've been in the business 15 years, maybe you can write a booklet with tips or put together some resource that would be useful to them for use in their office. Then your first contact would be asking permission to send them something valuable for free. Who would say not to that??

On the next call, your prospect is starting from a closer point to you. You will only strike a deal when he is in range. He won't leap across the distance.

I find a mailing/phone combination is a good combo. I have decided to eliminate cold calling and instead target my best prospects and send them something in the mail first. I am still "cold calling" them, but I have paved the way and warmed them up just a bit.

I send them a billfold (which is a prop for my sales pitch). Then when I call them, I start out by saying I'm the crazy lady who sent them the billfold. Do they remember seeing it? Ok, maybe that's a bit unconventional, but most people remember the billfold and my lighthearted opening disarms them. Most of them remember it. (few remember routine sales materials)

I then say the great things mentioned in the previous posts and close for the appointment. This has made cold calling much easier and I do not have to make as many calls because the ones I make are already targeted and "warmed up" before I ever have to talk to them.

Just keep trying until you find what works. - by RainMaker
Interesting article. Gitomer doesn't pull any punches or sugar coat things does he?

Here are three quotes from Gitomer's article that I thought were of particular interest:
If you call and the person is willing, and you set the appointment, that's dumb luck. My 5-year-old granddaughter Morgan can mail out information and set an appointment with someone who's willing. This is about the people who perceive they're not.
The first thing you've got do before you even get the appointment is get the attention and interest of the decision maker. You do this by engaging him or her, and you engage with questions or statements that lead to them wanting to know more, and not necessarily more about you. Rather, more about what you know that could help them.
They do not want to be or need to be educated, they want answers, just like you do. They do not want solutions, they want answers. They do not want to take time to hear about you -- if they give you time, it better be about them.
- by Jolly Roger
Jason, rest assured that when you call on a potential client in the back of his/her mind is the nagging question, "What's in it for me?" When you write out your scripts check to insure that you are answering this question clearly. - by SalesCoach
Well, I've taken notes or printed out all this advice and am in the process of rewriting my script, and I am excited about that.

I think with not having any sales training I always felt that I didn't want to get to corny and I was kinda scared to go that far. In fact I kinda felt that what I did have was almost to corny I couldn't see myself getting through it without cracking, but I do. But I also realize that I need to get a message across and to do it as effective, effecient, and clearly as I can and maybe my fear has kept me from thinking of how to do that. What I have gotten here just in a day or so has been great for me and I have learned a lot. I really appreciate everyone who has given advice.

As far as my leads goes, the directory I have has all types and sizes of companies, from mom and pop to companies like GE and Ford. The problem is 95% just don't want to talk to me or they don't work with brokers (and never will as some are quick to say) or they are happy with who they have. I think what I have gotten here will help maybe give me some firepower to shoot past some of those objections. The ones I do get a chance with, the ones with poor paying freight or sporadic freight, I get that chance with them because nobody else wants to deal with them for that reason. If I could find 100 of those companies, and a way to keep in contact with them on a regular basis, it might be worth it and would be a good niche. The ones I can't get or want to get are pretty closed off or are well taken care of that it is hard to get in.

Again, thanks for the advice and keep it coming to if you have more. I will update my progress here. And I have been thinking of how I may possibly repay everyone for their kindness and the best I could come up with now is to help others here as well. Thanks again! - by ogre131
The ones I do get a chance with, the ones with poor paying freight or sporadic freight, I get that chance with them because nobody else wants to deal with them for that reason. If I could find 100 of those companies, and a way to keep in contact with them on a regular basis, it might be worth it and would be a good niche. The ones I can't get or want to get are pretty closed off or are well taken care of that it is hard to get in.
It sounds like that might be your "breaking into the market" niche. Even though these are more challenging, perhaps you can find a way to make that your "specialty." That can be what distinguishes you from the crowd--meeting their special needs. I don't know enough about your business to really say any more.

I personally can relate to your dilemma because I have a product that would work for small companies all over the US, but it is challenging when every phase of the sales process has to be done by phone, email, or US mail. I started out exactly like you. Not a stitch of experience. I made up a script and started calling. In time, I developed a several point of contact routine (no one will buy from the first call) and gradually worked my way toward the sale. Don't be afraid to keep re-writing and re-writing. You'll find your groove. Sometimes the things that people say to you, in the process of calling, gives you better ideas and you build from there.

Good luck! - by RainMaker
I have a small customer base from previous contacts, as I have been in the warehouse/trucking business for about 15 years.
Are you growing and leveraging your sphere of influence as much as you could be? - by Bulldog
Are you willing to make multiple contacts? Here is why I ask: I believe they will alway keep you at arms length, but will be willing to take one small step toward you if it is not too far out of their comfort zone.
I love this quote, RainMaker. Well put. That was the thinking behind my blog post earlier in this thread. Some people think this approach shows a weakness of some kind or lack of killer instinct. "Just crank out the calls and close the appointment on the first call," they argue.

But my attitude is, if you're in this profession to enjoy it as you win, not just win, you owe it to yourself to try an approach that makes calls warmer, and is built upon having real conversations with people to decide where to go next, not mowing them down with a script.

Along those lines, Seth Godin had a blog post today about a person cold calling his offices in-person. Check it out. I think the message in it applies to any phone calling strategy that is built on mowing people down. - by BrandonH
When I'm cold called - gutters, lawn service, charity, investments, phone service, credit cards, windows to name a few - I never want to do business with the caller as I am as happy with all of that as is as I am my barber, who changes my oil.

I'm polite for a few seconds or minute if I have the time, then say something like, "No, thank you."

One come back and I might say, "Thank you, I said no.?" [or I might simply hang up after the first NO.

BUT a second come back and I am not happy with the caller. Then it's "bye."

A warm call is one that respects my NO! A cold call is one that doesn't. - by MitchM
A warm call is one that respects my NO! A cold call is one that doesn't.
MitchM, I agree completely.

My personal phone prospecting strategy and the one I teach others, is to introduce myself, try to break down the barrier (if ever so little), then gain permission by the person to call them in another couple of weeks to set an appointment. Some say yes, some say no thanks. Those who say yes are extremely good leads for now or the future. Those who say no may get a call much further in the future, because circumstances are always changing. - by BrandonH
My personal phone prospecting strategy and the one I teach others, is to introduce myself, try to break down the barrier (if ever so little), then gain permission by the person to call them in another couple of weeks to set an appointment. Some say yes, some say no thanks. Those who say yes are extremely good leads for now or the future. Those who say no may get a call much further in the future, because circumstances are always changing.
Brandon, can you elaborate on this? I'm interested in knowing what happens during the first call and why a second call is necessary. Also, do you think this approach would work across all industries? - by bridger480
Are you growing and leveraging your sphere of influence as much as you could be?
Good idea. For the larger accounts a networking and referral approach might be the ticket while leaving the cold calling for the smaller accounts which don't warrant as much time. - by bridger480
Also, do you think this approach would work across all industries?
Can you see this working for cold calling physicians? - by hot-pursuit
The two-call approach works best in industries where you are not only the new business developer (opening new accounts), but also the future account manager. The reason is, you are demonstrating right up front, before someone has a chance to actually see or sample your product or service in action, that you are reasonable to deal with.

But it works elsewhere as well, particularly in industries where the norm is decide-now selling. I call this type of selling "High Activity Selling," where the emphasis by sales executives to their salespeople typically is 1. Sales results (obviously), and 2. The number of calls you make, with only lip service given to sales skills (and then it's usually closing skills alone).

So, bridger480, it can and has worked in a variety of B2B industries that I've personally sold and led reps in. I have not tested this in calling individuals in their homes. I have no reason to believe it won't work there too, though. Think about it: what feelings do you get when a telemarketer goes into his spiel full-throttle?

And hot-pursuit, it will work in cold calling physicians. You have such limited time to speak with them that the credibility and trust assessments they make are instantaneous. Same reason, you're demonstrating up front that you're respectful of their time and reasonable to deal with.

Here's the link again to what I found as far as actual success "ratios" in using this approach: http://www.salesteamtools.com/?p=28.

Listen, this is sales. There is no magic potion. Some things definitely DON'T work, but plenty of things work--some better than others. And there are so many other variables that go into being successful: your mindset, time management, your personal achievement drive, your people skills, your questioning skills, to your follow-up, etc. Anyone who is selling THE system for "the 21st century" or "the new millenium" or whatever is simply building hype for their product or service. Have you noticed how many books are coming out all suggesting THEIR way is THE way the top salespeople do it? How can that be?

There ARE things we can do, however, to sell, for example, 3 out of 10 presentations instead of, say, 1 out of 10. That's a 300% increase. But you'd still be "losing" 7 out of 10 times!

That's why this is selling is both art and science. That's why I love it. - by BrandonH
Listen, this is sales. There is no magic potion. Some things definitely DON'T work, but plenty of things work--some better than others. And there are so many other variables that go into being successful...
Anyone who is selling THE system for "the 21st century" or "the new millenium" or whatever is simply building hype for their product or service...
There ARE things we can do, however, to sell, for example, 3 out of 10 presentations instead of, say, 1 out of 10. That's a 300% increase...
BINGO! BINGO! BINGO! - by SalesGuy
Quality post, Bandon. Thanks. - by RainMaker
What is the typical methods for building a client base in your industry? How is everyone else meeting this challenge? - by SpeedRacer
What is the typical methods for building a client base in your industry? How is everyone else meeting this challenge?
This is a great question. Why reinvent the wheel? If proven methods aren't producing the results you desire first look to yourself and then look to the method. - by Sensei
OK, here's an interesting anecdote (true story) about cold calling:

There was a young man, looking to break out of his low-income lifestyle. He was very bright, but naive and poorly educated. In the early 80's, he discovered the lure of selling penny stocks because it offered "big" financial opportunities, appeared professional, and required little education--only to be able to pass the licensing test.

This man did not have "salesman" bone in his body. His firm pumped their new agents up with a giant hype about making millions in the market and set 'em loose on the phones. He did what he was told and cold-called. (knowing this man, as I do, I cannot imagine that he lasted much more than a couple days--if that--at cold calling.")

He struck up a friendship with one of his propects from those few days of cold-calling. Shortly thereafter, he discovered what was really going on at his firm--which was a complete scam--and immediately extracted himself from it.

He stayed in touch with the friend he had made through the cold call. His friend had a sister in FL and decided to move there. He decided to join them, and a year later, he married his friend's sister.

Now, 18 years later, that man has NEVER made another cold call since, but he got more than his money's worth out of the day or two of genuine effort. :p - by RainMaker
And don't take that last post as I don't want anymore tips. Please keep them coming!
From my perspective all sales are problem solution based. You have the problem I have the solution. I do not know your industry at all, but there has to be a common problem that all the carriers you contact have. Bring the problem up, assume that they have it. Put them on the bandwagon. Say something like, ALL, keyword ALL the companies that I have contacted are having this particular problem or problems. Have you found yourself dealing with similar concerns? If they have, Then say something like, If there was a way that you could eliminate that particular problem would you want to fix it? Do you have time to discuss it now or would you like me to contact you another time. You need time. If they want to hurry you off the phone, then reschedule a time certain. Hope this helps. - by klozerking
I'll throw in my two cents. Can you offer better service than your competitors, can you get your current customers to enlarge their orders,can you get referrals and introductions from your customer base to other potential clients. I would offer cash incentives to truckers and clients for referrals. If you can squeeze a small order from a big client can you use that as a springboard to larger orders. Have you joined the local business associations and charitable orgainizations in your area. Network,Network,Network - by Rothgar the Pacifist
If I use the script prepared for cold calling, I would feel kind of awkward. I feel that I am talking like a machine. So, I try to adjust the tone to make it sound more friendly in order for the receiver to feel better when they pick up my call. - by khunvi
If I use the script prepared for cold calling, I would feel kind of awkward. I feel that I am talking like a machine. So, I try to adjust the tone to make it sound more friendly in order for the receiver to feel better when they pick up my call.
Do you read the script or have you memorized and most importantly internalized the script? - by Liberty
Reading from a script isn't a good idea but having a script helps to remind you of what to say and might give you more confidence. - by Thomas
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