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How to Handle Cold Calls (IT Edition)

Navigating the world of sales can be daunting, but we have the roadmap you need. In this comprehensive guide, we'll dive into two crucial aspects of sales success: finding quality leads and mastering the art of cold calling. Starting with the foundations, we explore how to uncover leads from various sources. We delve into the power of third-party lead generation tools and how to effectively utilize them for cold leads. Moving on, we tackle the nerve-wracking world of cold calling – from dealing with nervousness and rejection to crafting effective scripts. Learn how to engage clients, make impactful first impressions, and handle gatekeepers with finesse. Remember, it's not just about quantity; it's about building quality relationships. And while success might not happen overnight, we reveal the touch point process that can help you turn the numbers game to your advantage.

How to Find a Leads List

What do you do as a sales representative? How do you find a list? Where is the starting point for your territory?

  1. Internal CRM: Investigate your internal database, research old accounts and what you can offer.

    1. Example: If a customer purchased Dell Computers, lead in with Dell Computers. Ask what they like about them, what additional services you can offer. These are good conversation starters.

  2. Vendors (Partners): Always connect with vendors within your territory. They are your external resources for account mapping potential new clients, technical discussions and deal registrations for competitive pricing. Have a weekly call and review the territories and set weekly cadences. Building a relationship is key. Partners can also bring potential new clients to the table through referrals.

    1. Example: Microsoft PDMs, Microsoft Sellers, Microsoft Product Managers. They are an extension of your support.

  3. Third Party Lead-Gen Tools (Zoom Info, These are considered cold leads and require a little more attention. You always want to research your client, view the company status, growth rate, the clients, LinkedIn, and where they are in the buying stage. Get with your marketing team, ask for a one pager about your company and what your company offers. Find something of value to proposition to your client. Benefits - Cost = Value.

    1. Example: If you are a cyber security vendor, offer a complimentary lower tier assessment at no cost, the likely hood of finding something in their environment is high, then propose a better solution to resolve the current IT environment for you customer. Quality over Quantity is the key to success. You could spam email and smile and dial, but without researching your client, sacrificing Quality for Quantity is not the answer.

Cold Calling

Everybody gets nervous about cold calling. What if they pick up? What if they don’t? What kind of voicemail do I leave? How do I handle rejection? How do I get past the gatekeeper?

  • When the Client Picks up: Clients get thousands of sells calls daily and you must be prepared. Typically, before I call a client, I do the 3-step approach. First, I send them a valued proposition email. Second, I send a friendly LinkedIn request, as a face to a name speaks 1000 words. Lastly, I call them to confirm they received my email, understanding that you more than likely caught the client off guard in the call, it's best to get to the point.

Example: “I wanted to confirm you received my email and what it was about. Can we set up a call next week as I understand your time is important, either next Tuesday or Wednesday?"

This gives you time to prepare for the call and do your research with the client and company. Commonality is key, that’s how relationships start, so maybe find a field of interest from their LinkedIn page.

  • When the gatekeeper picks up: 9 times out of 10 the gatekeeper can determine if you are the sales call, and 9 times out of 10 they will send you directly to their voicemail. Be nice to the gatekeeper, ask how their day is going. Ask them what their email and work number is, in the sense that you can follow up with them in case you can't get a hold of "John Doe", the IT director. The idea is to have the gatekeeper involved in reaching out to the IT Director for you, as an extra layer of getting in touch with the right contact.

  • How to handle rejection: 90% of sales are rejection: The key point is how do you respond to rejection.

    • Option 1: Thank the client for their time and ask if it's okay to keep them in your network in case a situation arises for an opportunity. Remind yourself it’s a numbers game in the IT world. The client may not want to investigate a cyber security refresh until Q4.

    • Option 2: Some clients may have a sense of humor. I once had a CIO say, “how about the 31st of never, I responded kind of busy that day how about the 32nd of never?” He gave me 5 minutes of his time.

    • Option 3: Ask if there is someone else you can speak to within the company? The saying goes “Just because mom says no does not mean dad will say yes.” If the IT Director says no, ask if the system admin is available and who that contact would be.

It’s a numbers game.

Wouldn’t it be great if every 1st call was 100% and the clients responded via email or call? Well, we would all be rich if that was the case, but unfortunately, that’s not the case. It’s a numbers game, it takes about 4 to 5 calls for a client to respond. Please see the touch point process my colleague and Business Director, Andres, has provided below for our Partners who engage in our virtual events.

Here's an 8-step follow-up process that incorporates calls, emails, and LinkedIn for engaging with leads from the virtual events we drive:

  1. Send an initial email: Craft a personalized email that introduces yourself, references the event, and expresses gratitude for their participation. Provide a summary of key takeaways from the event and highlight how your offer is a logical next step.

  2. Make a follow-up call: After sending the initial email, make a follow-up call to the leads. Use the call as an opportunity to further discuss the event, address any questions or concerns they might have, and emphasize the value of your offer. Take notes during the call to track important details for future interactions.

  3. Send a personalized LinkedIn connection request: After the call, send a personalized LinkedIn connection request to establish a professional connection. Mention the virtual event and your conversation during the call in the invitation message to remind them of your interaction.

  4. Share valuable content: Once they accept your LinkedIn connection request, share valuable content related to their interests or the CIE. This could include industry insights, relevant articles, or research papers. Position yourself as a valuable resource and industry expert.

  5. Follow up with a second email: Send a follow-up email three days after the initial call. Reference your previous conversation, remind them of the value your offer can bring, and offer to provide additional information or schedule a meeting.

  6. Engage on LinkedIn: Engage with their LinkedIn posts, comment on their articles or updates, and share your own relevant content. This will help you stay on their radar and build a rapport.

  7. Make a second follow-up call: If you haven't received a response to your second email or if they showed interest during the call, make a second follow-up call. Reiterate the value proposition of your offer, address any concerns, and provide additional information if needed.

  8. Third email: Finally, send a direct email looking to schedule your offer. Re-emphasize the value this would bring and why you believe your organization is uniquely positioned to help their business.

Remember, the key to successful follow-ups is persistence, personalization, and providing value at each touchpoint. Adapt this process to fit your style and continuously track and analyze the results to refine your approach.

If the lead does not develop into your offer by the third email, they may not be ready to buy today. Record their contact details and place them into your email marketing engine so you always stay top of mind. Feel free to repeat this process after some time has passed.

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