The weather’s getting colder and wetter outside (excluding you lucky recruiters in the southern hemisphere), but for many of us, the business pipeline is doing the exact opposite and drying up before our eyes! By now we’ve come to expect that December and January are quieter months, as clients and candidates take holidays (how dare they?) and put live jobs and applications on the back-burner. Eh.
Unfortunately, despite this expected slump and slowdown in activity, agency recruitment consultants still have to answer to sales targets. If you know you’re not going to get any placements over the line within the next few weeks, you’re going to have to prove you’ve been busy planning to make sure you absolutely smash next year’s Q1 forecast to make up for the pre-Christmas lull. so what’s the remedy? you might not like it but, allow me to introduce to you…
Sure, it might send a shiver or two down your spine, but it exists for a reason and DEFINITELY merits a place in your festive season business development regime. Why not try setting yourself a target of 10 new cold calls each day? At the very least it’ll give you something to talk to your manager about in that dreaded weekly sales meeting!
Before you dive in head first, make sure your cold calling plan of attack is piping hot. Wait, no, in the spirit of sticking with the ‘cold / wintery’ theme, let’s aim for ‘scoldingly cold’. I recommend asking yourself these 11 questions BEFORE every call. As with most things, preparation is key. Getting answers to the below clear in your mind ahead of picking up the phone will increase your chances at a successful call:
1. Why am I actually calling them?
This sounds painfully obvious, but before every call, think about what you want from them and why it’s worth making the introduction. There might be a million and one ways you feel you could work together, but instead of going in with a wide offering or array of potential conversation starters, pick one that’s going to pique their interest and let that guide the rest of the call.
2. Are they the right person?
You need to as much research as possible before hand to make sure they are the right person to talk to – aka, the decision maker. Feel free to tell them how you’ve come to believe they are the right person – if your LinkedIn research led you to them, be transparent and say so! They’ll appreciate the honesty. Another option is to say ‘someone in your network’ has recommended you be in touch with them, but give no further details. This can be a success, but it is also a fairly common tactic used by people who have plucked their name out of thin air and need a story.
3. What is my introduction?
Nothing is worse than receiving a call and being confused for the first 2 minutes, having no idea who they are, who they work for, what they do and what they want. You need to prepare a sharp and succinct introduction that alleviates confusion within the first 10 or so seconds of the call.
4. What sexy piece of bait can I dangle?
You need to capture their interest or attention somehow – they need to feel like you are offering something that has HUGE potential value. Are you working with a candidate who’s being interviewed by their competitors? Find something that will intrigue them on the spot, and make them feel like they could be missing out on something amazing by shunning you.
5. What objections will I get?
This is likely not to be your first cold call. What are the common objections you get on calls? Make sure you have responses ready to get you through the call. Knowing how to deal with blanket objections like “sorry, I’m about to step into a meeting” or “I’m not interested, thanks” means you won’t be shocked and defeated by them, rather learn to expect them and tackle them head on.
6. What resources do I have to hand?
Have their LinkedIn profile on the scree – their company website, YOUR company website, your CRM system open for note-taking and note-referencing. Make sure you have as many helpful resources to hand as possible, to help you think on your feet and lead the call by moulding the direction of things based on where they appear to be showing the most interest.
7. What is my tone of voice?
A great idea is mirroring the tone of voice of the person you are speaking with. If they seem incredibly serious and straight-talking, give his back to them. If they appear to want to small talk until the cows come home, don’t be afraid top give it back. Obviously you want to be yourself and come across natural, but until this prospective client knows you, you’re going to have to keep them on the phone, which can often be achieved by emulating their tone.
8. What do I know about them?
Be sure to have researched as much as possible about them. If you find some common interests or common ground based on their online footprint, keep that in the bank for when you enter into small talk territory! Also referencing knowledge you have about them is likely to impress them and show this person that you’re thorough and you’ve bothered to prepare for the call, meaning you obvious feel it’s worth your time, therefore why wold it be worth theirs to hear you out?
9. Do I have mutual connections with them?
Everyone loves a good bit of name-dropping from time to time. If you’ve worked with one of their colleagues, or placed someone in their old team recently, use it to your advantage! By mentioning mutual connections, you give yourself credibility and put them at ease about talking to you, as you both clearly operate in similar circles!
10. Have my colleagues tried them before?
The importance of logging calls and client / candidate details is SO important when trying to develop business. Unfortunately the people you work with will drop the ball now and again. Before your call, do all you can to cross-check that your colleague hasn’t literally just spoken to this person and forgot to do their admin!! Even if it isn’t your fault, it’s bound to look bad on you as it will appear you haven’t consulted your peers before making the call.
11. What will my ‘next steps’ or action point be?
You must, must, must come away with a sense of ‘where to now’. You need to have a couple of options in mind regarding how you’ll move things forward after the call. Will you meet them for a coffee? This is obviously ideal, but after the first call you’ll likely have to settle for sending them a follow up email and a note to catch up next month. Regardless of how ‘positive’ the call feels, make sure you establish what the action point will be, even if it is ‘take them off the call list and don’t email them again until next year at the earliest’.
Hopefully if you check these things with yourself first, you’ll have a far greater success rate when cold calling! Do you have any extra tips to help your business boom during the festive season?