How Entrepreneurs Can Overcome Sales Fears
When it comes to making cold calls, fear of rejection is normal. But business owners can overcome such fears and become sales leaders by learning the right approach to highly effective selling.
“No one likes to be told ‘no,’ and no one likes to fail,” says Garcia Glover, managing partner with Axle Sales Partners, LLC, a Cleveland-based company that provides strategies for cold calling and sales training to businesses. However, pre-call preparation can give you the confidence and knowledge to turn a ‘no,’ into a ‘yes.’ Here’s what to do before, during and after a customer interaction to increase your chance of making a sale.
Before the interaction
“There’s a difference between cold calling and effective prospecting,” Glover says. “Cold calling takes more of a shotgun approach where you call on as many people as humanly possible in the hopes that someone will listen to you. But that’s not effective because people don’t want to be interrupted during their busy day to hear your sales pitch and are more inclined to reject you.”
A better tactic is to take more of a laser-focused approach. Identify a “qualified target market” and figure out how you can advise them or solve their problems, he says. That might mean identifying whether your ideal customer falls under certain demographics such as income level, marital status, family size or industry. Information is available from the U.S. Census Bureau, which tracks state and county demographic information. You can also purchase mailing lists that break down potential customers by demographics and even hobbies and interests. “Once you know your market, you can use surveys, networking, and other forms of research to identify what problems and challenges prospects may have including problems they haven’t yet thought of,” Glover says.
Once you’re armed with that information, call up your prospects and ask if you can schedule a 15-minute appointment to have a more in-depth conversation at a more convenient time for them.
During the interaction
When you meet with your prospect, whether by phone, Skype or face to face, the focus shouldn’t be on making a sale. Instead, this is when you introduce yourself and discuss the challenges your prospect is facing. You might tell the prospect about some of the problems that others like him or her are having. Once you build a rapport, then you can introduce how your product or service can solve their problems.
After the interaction
Always end a call or a meeting with an understanding and a commitment of what the next step is, Glover says. Ideally, you want that next step to be a sale. But if not, end the conversation with another scheduled appointment or, at minimum, an agreed upon date and time for you to follow up.
Even if a prospect says “No,” that doesn’t preclude you from following up, Glover says. You must continue to engage those prospects that are on the fence.
“Periodically send the prospect industry news, articles of interest and other pertinent information, just don’t sell,” Glover suggests. This approach allows you to build the relationship so that the prospect begins to think of you as someone to go to for solutions. Over time, a sale could still result.
Contact management or customer relationship management (CRM) tools such as Infusionsoft or Zoho, for example, can also be used to remind you when to follow up and help you track information that you learn about your prospects and their sales needs. The idea is to become a trusted advisor rather than a seller peddling wares. “People hate to be sold, but they love to buy,” Glover says.