Qlose is an interview format that meets the best experts in sales reps to find out how they contribute to the sales performance of their company.
For this third episode, Qobra welcomes Enzo Colucci, B2B Sales Coach at iconoClass, and he will share with you his method for preparing a Cold Call, his tips for getting Meetings and his best practices for conducting a cold call session.
1. The context
Can you introduce yourself?
Enzo Colucci, Sales coach at iconoClass, I give in-company training to sales reps, from prospecting to closing and even management.
I've been in sales for 10 years now, I've been in several different sectors. I started out doing fundraising for NGOs on the street, which is what made me want to go into sales.
Then I set up my own business in Switzerland in car cleaning. Then I returned to France and worked for three and a half years in the medical-social sector at Ouihelp, a home help company for the elderly. I arrived as the first Business Developer, we went from 10 to 150 employees in 3 years, and I ended up being Head of Sales in the company.
Then I was recruited by Sunday as Key Account Manager, a fintech in the restaurant sector, there was also a strong growth as we went from 30 to 450 employees in 1 year.
Afterwards, I wanted to start training, it was the thing that made me want to get up in the morning, share my knowledge and see people become more skilled.
What are the objectives of a cold call?
The primary objective is to make a Meetings. You have to keep this in mind, the objective is not to sell.
The cold call is calling someone you don't know, they don't know you either, and moreover at a time when you are necessarily disturbing them.
The objective is therefore to make a Meetings, but it is also to qualify the prospect. Each cold call session is a qualification session. It is essential to leave the call with information, even if no Meetings are made.
2. Steps to prepare a cold call
How to prepare a cold call?
The most important thing is to first define your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), and then to define the different buyer personas.
Then the company, often the marketing or growth department, will source a list of matching profiles. Today, there are many tools available to source these profiles en masse and save Sales valuable time.
Afterwards, there is a lot of work to do in preparation for the cold call session, including pre-qualifying a list of accounts with the same buyer persona to be effective.
What is the ideal cold call opening?
For my part, I always use the AIDA method.
Then, the first question "How are you?" is interesting, we know that in Anglo-Saxon countries, for example, it is compulsory. In France, there are two schools, it's really double-edged because we tend to be suspicious of someone we don't know, who calls us at a time when we haven't been told, and there's always a hesitation in the answer, you can feel the suspicion in the tone. In my opinion, you can start by asking this question, but you have to put a lot of energy into it and feel that it is sincere.
Secondly, the openings that work best are sincere and authentic. In France, we don't like to be called, the slightest call is considered to be low-quality prospecting, as we have all experienced in B2C.
So it's all about the tone of voice and it's all about the first 5 to 10 seconds. In my opinion, you have to be honest and respectful from the start:
"Hello X, I suspect I'm disturbing you, the idea of my call, I'll tell you in all honesty is to make a Meetings with you at the end of this call, and I'll tell you in 30 seconds why I'm calling you."
In this way, I am respectful, I keep my distance, I announce the colour, I respect the time. The aim is that the person on the other end of the line will lower their guard and not be suspicious.
After these first few seconds, you can tell from the person's tone how they feel about this call, how they react, how much they are bothered, where they stand, etc. And all this information must be taken into account and adapted, whether in terms of tone, rate of speech, words used, etc. And all this information must be taken into account and adapted, whether it is the tone, the rate of speech, the words used, etc.
3. Tips to improve the conversion rate
When is the best time to make a cold call?
In my opinion, there are no better days than others to call!
If you listen to what people say, Monday is the day of meetings, so it's not a good time, Wednesday is the day of the children, Friday is already the weekend. In short, all the sales reps in France call on Tuesdays and Thursdays!
Then, as far as the times are concerned, it depends on the buyer persona or the sector of activity. For example, a restaurant owner should be called between 9:30 and 11:30 or in the afternoon between the two services or even before the evening service. Another example is CEOs, C-levels, early in the morning before the first meetings, late in the evening after the last meetings or just before and after lunch.
The rule is to test and iterate, there are no specific times. You have to give yourself a period of time, for example 3 weeks, and test the same times, and then analyse this data, to see what works best.
The reality is that we are all busy, we all have agendas that are not done the same way every day of the year. As long as a buyer persona's agenda is not made the same way every day, there are no good or bad schedules.
What strategy to adopt after a prospect has opened an email?
After sending an email sequence, if you notice that someone opens it, you should call them immediately, even before they have had time to read the whole email!
In this situation, the person may find it funny and you can already have something.
However, this is not so obvious as one cannot always be on the lookout at the same time as the launch of a mail sequence.
In any case, you should call them on the day, not 2 or 3 days later, because in the meantime they have had time to receive or read hundreds of emails. The best practice is to set aside a time slot of one hour after sending the emails or the same evening.
4. Answers to common objections
What to say to the objection "I'm not interested"?
Firstly, it may mean that there has been poor pre-qualification, if the prospect is not interested it may not be the right target.
Then it is important to ask why they are not interested, the objective is to get information and be able to answer.
Then, you have to nod, say that you understand that you are disturbing them, that you have perhaps badly explained your product or service, and then follow up with social proof by saying that such and such a company had the same discourse at the beginning and finally we made a Meetings, and today, we have been working together for six months now. You have to give names, figures and proof!
It is also important to bear in mind that this may simply not be the right timing. That's why qualification is so important, to know whether to take him off the list permanently or to call him back later.
What to say to the objection "I am in a meeting"?
This can lead to a lack of frankness at the beginning of the call, a pitch that is too long or too self-focused and therefore not enough on the prospect.
Then, the idea is to make him understand that we are not going to take his time now, but to make a Meetings for later, we must ask him for his availability.
How to respond to the objection "How did you get my number"?
You have to be totally transparent and authentic in this case :
"Let me explain, this is my job, I use tools, I can give you the name by the way. And so quite honestly, I found your number via LinkedIn. Now, if I have your number today, it's because I really want to get in touch with you, which is why I took the trouble to find your number."
In this way, I will bring consideration to my prospect.
In the situation where the person answers "This is my personal number". It is important to apologise and then to use the transparent and authentic message I have just mentioned, and to ask for the person's professional number.
It is necessary to have an approach that is direct, respectful, authentic and expert.
It is absolutely essential to avoid ready-made scripts, to repeat the same speech as everyone else in the company, you have to embody your pitch. In my opinion, it is the role of sales, but also of managers, not to encourage sales to use the same script. On the contrary, you have to encourage everyone to do things differently, to think outside the box.
The cold call is a unique opportunity to do things differently, to take ownership of a message, to say in your own words how you see your company. It is much easier for a sales to respond to an objection when he or she speaks in his or her own words than if he or she follows a specific speech. This is an exercise that sales reps do regularly, so they might as well enjoy themselves!
Should I leave a voice message after a call that is not answered?
Personally, I don't do it. However, I do leave a message when it's a prospect I've already had on the phone.
In a pinch, it is possible to do this after 10 unanswered calls. In this situation, you should leave a very short message with only your name and company. If you give them too much information, they will know the purpose of the call and they will probably not call back or even block your number.
What questions should you ask before hanging up after agreeing to a Meetings?
This will depend on the product and/or service offered. However, this qualification phase must take place after the Meetings have been arranged.
Depending on the company, there is information that is absolutely necessary. For example, at Sunday's, it was imperative to know the cash register software used by the prospect, it was the only data to obtain. Depending on this information, we would either cancel the Meetings or not.
Then there may be call sessions just to qualify the prospects. For example, at Sunday, I would call all my prospects, pretend to be a restaurant owner who wanted to know what the best cash register software was, and based on everyone's answers, I would reorder my list, remove some prospects and focus on others.
In concrete terms, after the validation of the Meetings, you should ask a maximum of 2 or 3 questions, the most important ones being those that will allow you to best prepare for the Meetings.
5. Tips to create emulation around the cold call
How to integrate the cold call pitch into onboarding?
Firstly, it is important to do shadow cold call sessions with each newcomer, but also that they can listen to them on their own. Some tools such as Modjo make it very easy to do this, and even to store the best cold calls in a library.
It is much better to be able to listen to them than to read a pitch on a document, because again, what is important is the tone of voice, the embodiment of the pitch. That way, the Sales person can get into it.
The second is to provide them with a list of contacts so that they can get to know each other.
So the rule is to listen to soak up, readjust and then take action and test.
How do you convince a sales to make a cold call?
On the one hand, it is one of the main tasks of his job, so he has to do it.
On the other hand, it is to tell them that there is no risk, no matter who or what the answer is, it is not the end of the world.
It's perfectly normal to be afraid, to have this apprehension that you're going to disturb someone, and you have to desecrate all this thinking.
And to start with, you have to stop putting targets on a pedestal, they are people like any other, they are used to going out for drinks, having barbecues, watching TV on Sundays, etc. They are normal people, there is no reason to put pressure on themselves because you call someone. They're normal people, there's no reason to put pressure on yourself because you call someone.
Afterwards, the person may not be suited to the job of Sales, and that's fine, everyone has a job that suits them.
It is also through trying, through having succeeded with your first call, that you realise that it is possible!
What are the best practices for creating emulation around the cold call?
The first tip is to do group sessions, ideally twice a week. These slots should be defined in everyone's schedule, the whole team should be present in physics and the slot should not be changeable.
Then, you need to set objectives and challenges to make the sessions more gamified, and to set associated rewards according to the levels reached. There is no need to allocate a huge budget.
Each sales rep will say how many Meetings they want to achieve, then the total is calculated, and if the target is reached, each person wins a certain reward, which can even be scratch cards.
This system will bring a general emulation, and when you get close to the goal, everyone will redouble their efforts before the time limit to benefit from the reward.
The important thing is the gamification and reward side, whatever the reward. You should also think about changing the rewards and themes of the challenge to bring novelty and engagement.
And don't forget to mention that getting Meetings will have a short- to medium-term impact on their commissions!
The final word...
Do you have one or more resources that you like to consult to improve your Sales approach?
- The follow tribes blog
- The book Fanatical Prospecting
- The book Vendre, les secrets de ma méthode by Jordan Belfort
- The Kold Club show
- Meet other people who have the same role in other companies