Your prospects don’t have to be nice to you. 5 mean moves you can counteract when cold-calling

by Shannon F.

Busy prospects don’t always appreciate getting your call in the middle of their day. Every salesperson has a cold-calling story about someone who reacted badly to repeated attempts at contact. Here’s how to deal with 5 ways that prospects may behave in a less than civil manner.

Your Prospect Ignores Your Calls. Aren’t they ever in their office?! When you’ve made your 7-12 cold-calling attempts and still have not gotten your prospect on the phone, it’s time to accept that he or she may be ignoring your calls.

Best Fix: Mix up your approaches. Try sending an email or even a personalized letter. If you use InsightPRM, try sending an instant email from the PRM at the same time as you are leaving a voicemail. Set up your email template to say, “I just called and left a voicemail for you regarding_________. I’d love to have a chance to discuss this with you in person.” Some phone-phobic prospects respond to emails in an instant.

Last Resort: Schedule your next follow-up call for a few months out, and try again at that time.

Your Prospect Lies to You. You know for a fact that they are moving their office, but they insist they are not in the market for commercial moving services. Chances are that your prospect is withholding the truth in order to get you off the phone. Sound improbable? Consider that the average individual is lied to as many as 200 times in a day. That estimate likely doubles if cold-calling is part of your job; most people do not enjoy being sold to, and as a result, they may say anything to end the conversation.

Best Fix: Your prospect could be feeling harassed from all directions, which is why he or she is being deceptive. Instead of calling again, send along a free informational resource such as a whitepaper, an invitation to a webinar, or a link to an article you wrote. If the prospect takes the time to download the resource or click the link, they are probably in the market for or at least considering the service you offer. You can also try sending along a free estimate for your services, based on what you know about the company size and number of employees. Receiving an unsolicited estimate may spur your prospect to action. Plus, it’s a no-pressure postcard, so they will hardly object.

Last Resort: Try to find a more reliable contact in that company. Check Linkedin to see if you know anybody who knows anybody.

Your Prospect Hung Up on You: If your last cold call ended in a click, your prospect could just be having a bad day. Or maybe he or she is seriously in need of an attitude adjustment. But let’s not rule out that it could also be your fault. How frequently are you contacting this prospect? Are you always courteous on the phone? A blatant hang-up is a pretty straightforward “No,” and pressing the issue might make things worse.

Best Fix: Give that contact a rest, and try somebody else within that company. Different, low-pressure approaches like sending a postcard or brochure may be more effective than cold-calling.

Last Resort: Let this one go. You’ve obviously started off on the wrong foot, and if you are unable to turn your relationship around with this disgruntled prospect, you may be better off focusing your efforts elsewhere.

Your Prospect is Curt or Rude: Don’t be too quick to write off a rude prospect. You have no idea what kind of pressure he or she is under, especially during a time of upheaval like an office move. Cold-calling at a bad time tends to bring out the worst in people; someone who is a little grumpy today could be overflowing with friendliness tomorrow.

Best Fix: Say, “Sounds like you may be having a busy day. Can I call you at a time that is more convenient?” Often, apologizing for your intrusion and acknowledging that you may be interrupting your prospect’s workflow will be enough to take the edge off his or her annoyance.

Last Resort: Turn the lead over to another rep on your team. Maybe you just happen to clash with this particular prospect, and someone else will have better luck.

Your Prospect Got Insulting. Your prospect insulted you, your company, your mama, and your dog. Are you just going to sit there and take it?! The answer is yes. Encountering a prospect this irate probably won’t happen often, but when it does, you need to be the professional one.

Best Fix: Say, “I’m sorry you feel that way.” Apologizing, even if you feel you don’t owe anyone an apology, is the best way to diffuse tension. Then say, “Is there a better time for me to call?”

Last Resort: Let this one go. If someone says they’re not interested, sometimes you have to eventually accept that, well, they’re not interested.

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