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Hate cold calling? Try conversation starting

Shift your perspective and generate more qualified leads

Cathy Schmid
Cathy Schmid
EVP Sales and Client Services / Partner

Just mention “cold calling” and you’re sure to generate a visceral response, even among sales professionals. Most business development reps either love it or hate it unequivocally, without much middle ground. Public speaking and professional networking provoke similar divides among business people.

But, a B2B or medtech company’s cold calling efforts play an essential role in meeting lead generation and revenue goals. These upfront calls are usually the first outreach to a new prospect list, sales territory or target market.

Making that first call to a potential new customer is critical for:

  • Identifying the right decision-maker
  • Determining interest and fit for your product or service
  • Establishing a fruitful relationship
  • Laying the groundwork for future closed sales

Top reasons why cold calling fails

Cold calling gets a bad rap for a number of reasons. The number one reason is an “It’s all about me” approach. We’ve all been on the receiving end of that call, where the unrelenting sales rep never takes a pause—just steamrolls ahead with their sales pitch, regardless of our interest, attention or objections. It’s why “telemarketing” has such a poor reputation.

In other cases, the sales rep sticks so closely to a pre-determined script that the interaction feels stilted, cold and robotic. They may ask questions, but with little reaction or interest in the answer. There’s no emotion and no chance of making a genuine connection with the target audience.

Both examples set a poor tone for the company and even worse, can tarnish the organization’s brand reputation in the market.

Medtech and B2B sales prospecting should occur on a completely different level.

Reframe your objective and lead with conversation

If you’d rather have a root canal or a tax audit than embark on a day of sales cold calling, you’re not alone.

One way to enjoy it—and produce better results from your sales prospecting efforts—is to reframe your perspective. Instead of cold calling to pitch your product or service, make your goal to start discovery conversations and learn more about your target audience.

This simple switch in mindset makes a big difference in your results. Instead of the “It’s all about me” sales pitch, the outbound sales prospecting call becomes a conversation. And conversations create a two-way dialogue that leads to relationships, trust and eventually, sales.

Conversations involve sharing your story, but also asking questions of the other person. As a salesperson or business development representative, you’ll spend more time listening than on a typical cold calling pitch. And, you’ll walk away with valuable information to help you size up the next step in the sales pipeline.

Tips for powerful sales prospecting conversations

Follow these recommendations to engage in powerful sales prospecting conversations.

  • Be authentic. It’s important to sound and act like yourself. If you’re memorizing a script or reading word-for-word, your audience will know it. Instead, use a call guide that helps sales reps follow key points, but with your own words.
  • Ask questions—then listen. Smart discovery questions are the backbone of any productive conversation. So be curious! Show interest in your target customer and their business. Once you ask your question, use active listening and prompts to draw out relevant information. This is a perfect opportunity to understand the individual’s role, their day-to-day pain points and company needs. These details help you score the lead and identify next steps.
  • Don’t expect an immediate sale. The problem with the typical cold-calling pitch is that every turn in the conversation becomes an opportunity to promote your product or service. On a first sales prospecting outreach, avoid this impulse at all costs. Use the initial interaction to determine if there’s a fit for your solution that makes a second, more in-depth product discussion worthwhile.

Don’t give cold calling the cold shoulder—just convert those contacts into productive conversations. Remember, sales prospecting for medtech and B2B represents the first step in a string of engagements that hopefully end with a closed sale and a satisfied, long-term customer.

At Volkart May, our business development representatives are professional conversationalists. We know there’s nothing more powerful than the rapport comes from human conversation in the medtech and B2B sales cycle. We know how to engage with individuals at all levels of an organization, and ultimately, generate qualified leads and appointments. Learn more about our approach.

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