We’ve talked about cold call reluctance ad nauseam here, but today, I want to focus on what happens after you’ve conquered that fear. You’ve squared off with your doubts, picked up that phone, engaged the voice on the other end and – not only have they not hung up, but they actually sound interested in what you have to say!
Hallelujah! You’ve hit the Holy Grail of Stranger Dialing! Now, I realize it takes a whole lot to get to this point, but all the strategies you’ve employed to make it from Point A to Point B won’t get you to the finish line if you don’t know how to close. And keep in mind, with a cold call, a “close” isn’t necessarily getting a potential borrower to sign up for a new loan, or an all-star loan officer to take a position in your branch.
Rather, the close is simply advancing the conversation and your agenda to the next actionable point. This could come in the form of an additional, more in-depth call or a face-to-face meeting over coffee. It could mean sending them materials via email or following up at their requested future date when they will actually be in the market for what you’re selling.
Now that we’ve got that straightened out, let’s barrel full speed ahead! So your conversation has gone well but it’s gotten to that all-important turning point where you need to wrap it up and seal the deal, or risk the entire call going south. Not to worry, there are many proven techniques that can get you there.
Here are a few of my favorites:
- Remain Focused
This is easier said than done. Conversations can take a turn and you may end up connecting on a different subject, such as sports, neighborhoods, or even whether you like Coke or Pepsi better. Doesn’t matter. You can appreciate and acknowledge these similarities, but the end goal should always be in the forefront of your mind: advance the conversation, secure the next interaction, end on a pleasant note. Do NOT let small talk and superficial similarities derail you to a point where you can’t rein the conversation back in.
- Get Specific
One of the sure-fire ways to end up in the “friend zone” – aka the “I’m never going to hear from that person again, am I?” zone – is to leave the call open-ended or with vague statements that make the next step ambiguous. Think of this call like a date. If you really wanted to go out with that person, would you say “this was lovely. Have a nice night”? Or even “we should do this again sometime”? Chances are you wouldn’t. Especially if you were a confident, goal-oriented person who knew what they wanted. Instead, you’d say something along the lines of “I had a great time tonight. I’d like to see you again. How about dinner at Antonio’s next Friday. Say, 7?” If that wasn’t a good time, you’d nail down a different one, but you wouldn’t let the man or woman of your dreams slip through your fingers because you’re afraid of making your intentions known. Sales works the same way.
- Be Flexible
We want you to be goal-oriented, but not so goal-oriented that you can’t bend to your target. If you’re dead set on securing a coffee meeting at 8 a.m. on Tuesday at the Starbucks near your office, but the prospect is letting you know they’re not a morning person or will be on vacation or is interested and would like more information, but is not yet ready to commit to face-to-face, no problem. Change course. Again, the goal here is actionable advancement. Nothing shuts this down quicker than an overly aggressive “used car salesman” approach. If the prospect is telling you what they want, don’t insist you know better. Utilize these baby steps or alternative plans to make continued headway. This will also show them that you’re patient, flexible and easy to work with, all positive qualities FAM values.
- Keep Diligent Records
No matter how the call ends, you need to make a note of your interaction. Someone may sound interested, but you’ve truly caught them at a bad time and need to call back. Or they may have said they’re not looking to buy a home now, but things may change after they receive their holiday bonus check. Or a stellar loan officer isn’t interested in pursuing other opportunities right now, but may consider it once his youngest child is done with college in three months. These are all value-packed nuggets that are doled out during engaging calls. They are not to be thrown away. They’re to be noted, saved and utilized at a later date.
There’s no Yellow Brick Road leading to sales success, particularly when it involves stranger-to-stranger communication over the phone. But there are plenty of ways to hedge the bets in your favor. Don’t let that fish get off the hook. Stay the course and reel him in!