I saw a tweet the other day from an executive (I’m not pointing fingers, but it may have been from our very own CEO, Doug Davidoff) about playing “cold call roulette,” randomly choosing one sales call to take. Another executive indicated in a reply that he did the same, but noted that the calls were almost always bad. It’s tough out there for an SDR. It’s not easy to get the right person on the phone, and sometimes when you do, it’s just because you happened to be the lucky one whose call your prospect chose to take. They don’t really want to take a sales call, they’re just talking to you on a whim because they have a few minutes and want to see what happens. It’s up to you to make your first moments with the prospect count. But how do you do that?
Everywhere you look, there are tips and tricks about sales outreach. There’s a lot of helpful information out there, and many of us also have scripts to follow and coaching to guide us. These scripts will only take you so far, though, when you’re calling people who get sales calls, just like yours, every day. You have to find a way to stand out, to make your prospect want to talk to you. It’s something that we all struggle with, but the answer is much simpler than you may think. Good salespeople all have one thing in common: they’re good at making conversation. This is something I see with the talented sales execs I know outside of the office. They can strike up a conversation with anyone. They’re friendly, personable. And this is exactly what makes them so good at sales. Prospects want to talk to them because people enjoy talking to them.
So, when your call is the bullet of conversation in a game of cold call roulette, the best way to get your foot in the door is to be a person that people want to talk to . The easy part is, you probably already have this quality. It’s why you’re doing the job that you’re doing. When you’re on a call, remember to be yourself and use your own voice. Here are 5 tips to personalize your outreach:
1. Be real - When I was a bartender, it was my job to make each of my guests feel welcome, and I did this by talking to them; by sparking up a conversation. In sales, my goal is to have meaningful conversations with my prospects. What I’ve been taught is that before you can have a meaningful conversation, you first have to have a conversation. When you get on a call, it’s more important to engage with the person that you’re talking to than it is to say the “right” things. However good your offering may be, it’s not going to be memorable unless you’re memorable. Be friendly, be yourself, make conversation.
2. ”Why should I talk to you?”- We’re all hoping to push through to the pitch, but take a minute to think about that question. Why should they talk to you? The answer is not “Because I’m offering something that can really help them.” Think about the question, and think about having a real conversation. No executive is going to be so wowed by a cold call script that they’re willing to drop what they’re doing, answer questions, and set a meeting. Reading a script simply won’t cut it.
3. Create value - When you call someone who is not expecting your call, you’re taking time from them. It’s important to make that expenditure worthwhile. If you don’t care about what you’re talking about, no one will. Use your conversation to create value for your prospect. Highlight specific parts of your offer that will appeal to your prospect. The way to convey that you care about what you’re talking about is to--you guessed it--actually care. When you know what you’re talking about and care what you’re talking about, you won’t be wasting anyone’s time with your call.
4. Be memorable, not agreeable - Often in sales situations, it feels natural to agree with what a prospect is saying. You want them to like you, and you want them to want to talk to you. It would seem like the easiest way to accomplish this is to agree with them. However, agreeable isn’t memorable. And, agreement for its own sake means that you’re probably not being yourself. Ask yourself: will they remember your call (and you) a week from now? It’s much better to come into the conversation prepared, and with a point of view. Have a question or an insight that will challenge the person on the other end. Bringing your own perspective and personality to a call gives you a much better chance at making a strong impression.
5. Alignment - It may sound a little asinine, but it’s really important to understand what your company does and what you’re offering. Like many SDRs, I have a soundbite to spout off when someone asks me what it is that Imagine does. I remember a coaching session with Doug where, upon hearing my soundbite, he asked me if I really knew what I was saying. Candidly, the answer was no. I wasn’t comfortable enough with the information I was giving to make it my own, and the result was that I was coming across like a buzzword bingo robot. When you’re doing outreach, it’s important to be really aligned with what your company stands for, what you do, and how you do it. This way, you can communicate it in a way that makes sense to you and your prospect.
Just as Occam’s Razor tells us that the simplest explanation is usually the true one, sometimes one of the best things an SDR can do to advance a call is the simplest: be yourself. Sure, the myriad sales tips and tricks can be really helpful. But at the end of the day, you’re the one on the call. You have to find your own way to make it yours and make it work.