Drumming up new business isn’t an easy task.
Even if you’ve got a strong brand reputation and customers in the sector you’re focusing on, it takes time and effort. Multiple calls and emails to get through to a decision maker or internal influencer.
Hard work and persistence is required to get your foot in the door. So when you’ve finally got a potential buyer on the phone, you want to make the most of this opportunity. A cold call, if used the right way, could turn into a live product demo, or ensure you can use this chance to book a demo on your calendar.
Whenever possible, strike while the iron is hot. Demo your product today. But first, you need to qualify the lead. The last thing you want is to spend 30 to 45 minutes doing a demo only to find they don’t need the product, don’t have a budget, can’t make a decision, or can’t influence those who are responsible for purchasing.
How to qualify a cold call lead?
Speaking to someone other than a gatekeeper is a small win. Turning a cold call into a potential lead involves asking a few questions that will help you identify whether this is a valid and viable lead, rather than someone who is going to waste your time.
#1: Do your homework
Before picking up the phone, know who you need to speak to, their role in the company, and have an idea of the sorts of challenges your solution can solve for them. Each company will have unique challenges, but if you have other clients in the same sector then you should be able to identify some of the pain points before a call.
Now is your chance to ask them about those and start positioning the product as the solution they need. Providing you ask the right questions, of course.
#2: Ask the right questions
On any cold call when you speak to a potential buyer, you need to find out the following:
• Are they in the market for a new product/service (if you’re looking to dislodge a competitor), or a product to fill a gap where there isn’t currently an incumbent?
• Do they have the budget?
• Is the person you’re speaking to a buyer/decision maker, or do they have influence to encourage a purchase?
• What is it worth to them to ensure these pain points are resolved?
• What will they need from you to make a decision (e.g. a proposal, an on-site demo, case studies, an application to tender)?
• Do they have a potential timescale or roadmap to make a decision and/or rollout this product internally?
Qualifying a call is the most important thing you can do within the first five to fifteen minutes of a call. Especially if you’re hoping to dive into a demo. Every team will have their own questions, and these need to be asked the right way, within the natural rhythm of the conversation; but unless you ask them, you can’t be sure a demo is going to get you anywhere close to a sale.
#3: If you aren’t sure: ask again
One of the most important questions within the qualification process comes down to budgets and authority. Can they make a decision? Many will say yes, even if the answer is no.
If you need clarification, ask three times. If you already know what the company’s org chart looks like then you should have a fairly good idea where they sit in the decision making tree. Experienced sales professionals know that on the third asking - when done the right way - you should get the answer you need.
Even without decision making or budgetary authority, if you are speaking to someone with influence in the buying process then the call could be worth your time.
Now they’re qualified: Dive into the demo
With a qualified lead on the phone, this is the perfect opportunity - if they’ve got the time - to demo the product. Here are a few ways you can make sure your demo is a success:
• Ask about the main challenges this product will solve and how they fit within larger business goals. Connect your product directly to revenue or money saving operational objectives.
• Show don’t tell. Be visual. But don’t show them everything. You don’t need to demo every feature of the product - just the most relevant for them.
• Tailor the demo/product for the client. If they’ve mentioned a particular challenge they’re facing, and you know the product has the perfect feature to solve it: show them. Don’t waste time or hope they’ll find it themselves later. Demonstrating this today will get you another step closer to completing a sale.
• Keep asking questions. The more you know, more you listen and more you’ve got a clear idea whether they’re a potential sale or not, the easier it is to follow-up and close the deal.
• Be clear on your next steps. Are you ending calls without clear follow-up steps? That might be why you aren’t closing as many deals as you could. Know what is going to happen next and what both parties expect of the other. Then get to work and implement as soon as possible. Even if the follow-up process takes weeks or months, sticking to your schedule is a perfect way to demonstrate that you’re the supplier they need for this service.