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Eight Secrets to Cold-Call Selling Success

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Sales is all about negotiating. Take the cold call, for example. A cold call is just another negotiation-no more and no less-and uses the same rules and habits you would use to manage any other deal.

When trained in my Systematic Decision-Based Negotiating Model, known as the "No System" for short, salespeople can consistently generate about three good appointments for every 10 cold calls—an unbelievable percentage.

Here are some tips to get you started:



1. Start with "no."

A good script begins with a calm invitation for the prospect to say "no," such as "Well, Mary, I have no idea whether what we do has any relevance for your business. I just don't know. Maybe it doesn't. If not, just tell me, and I'll get off the phone. But if whoever handles your…." By inviting her to say "no," you put your prospect at ease and make her feel in control.

2. Discipline your emotions.

You have no expectations. You are not needy. Turn your mind into a blank slate. If you start to feel emotions during your conversation, take a deep breath and regain self-control. You don't need to be friends. Your customer doesn't need to like you. Be direct, authentic, and calm.

3. Practice neutral speaking.

A high-pitched voice or talking too quickly reveals your neediness. So do talking too much, name dropping, and trying to impress your prospect. Your speaking style is your best ally or worst saboteur over the phone.

4. Ask interrogative-led questions.

Begin questions with who, what, where, when, why, and how. These get your prospect talking and revealing his or her needs and position.

5. Listen, and take notes.

Take detailed notes during your conversation. You should be listening more than talking and asking the kinds of questions that provide you with valuable information you might or might not use later on. Make no assumptions. Simply base your next question on the information the prospective customer has provided.

6. Shape a vision.

Based on what the customer has revealed, help the customer see his or her problem clearly, and help the customer see that you provide the solution to that problem.

7. Never think about closing.

Do not think about, hope for, or plan for the outcome of the call. Focus instead on what you can control: your behavior and activity during the phone call. As long as you are asking questions, listening to your customer, and helping him or her see the problem and solution, you are focusing on the right things.

8. Invite "no" again.

As the conversation is winding down, invite your prospect once again to say "no." Let him know that there will be no hard feelings if he decides your products or services are not for him after all or does not want to schedule an in-person appointment. You will be amazed at how inviting a customer to say "no" relieves pressure and turns opponents into allies.

About the Author

Jim Camp is an internationally sought negotiation coach and trainer and the author of NO: The Only Negotiating System You Need for Work and Home (Crown), the revised and updated version of his critically acclaimed business book, Start with No. As president and founder of The Jim Camp Group, he has coached individuals, companies, and governments worldwide through hundreds of negotiations worth billions. Learn more about Camp and his team of coaches at startwithno.com.

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