The “Cold Calling Equation” is a how-to manual for sales people wanting to learn proper cold calling techniques. The book breaks with traditional techniques like the funnel method and looks closely at the process by addressing the different stages of a cold call from start to finish. The book then gives a detailed analysis of common problems at each stage, offering solutions for overcoming each obstacle that may end a cold call before a lead gets generated. If you ever had questions about why cold calling works or doesn’t work, this book is for you.
Goals: Getting to the First Conversation
A unique part of Halper’s approach to cold calling is setting the goal of the call towards getting leads and a possible first conversation. The first call is not about selling. It’s about capturing the interest of the target. The book details how to use the short time of a normal cold call productively to meet this goal. An important idea in the book is the concept of keeping the conversation going long enough to secure an appointment or extended conversation. The best way to meet this goal is to use a value statement.
The value statement is the short sales pitch that helps snag a prospect’s interest. Halper gives important information on how to fine tune it so it doesn’t sound like a summary description of your company. Instead, he explains how to make the value statement an effective tool for explaining a company’s services or products.
Sales is about knowing your target customers, and Halper presents it in an interesting way in chapter four. A general philosophy of his book is that more good leads come from a small group of good prospects than hundreds of bad ones. This involves some pre-screening of potential clients. In the chapter on targets, Halper talks about how to focus your efforts by defining your idea of an “ideal target” and screening your call list accordingly. While everyone wants a luxury car, a luxury dealer focuses on affluent professionals as their target clientele. He goes on to talk more specifically about this in the chapter about qualifying prospects with questions during the call.
Halper continues to expand on the concept of screening possible leads by showing how to use a cold call to qualify clients. According to Halper, there are three benefits to qualifying a possible prospect during a cold call. First, it makes the call more conversational. This makes its easier to keep a client interested as the call is no longer an aggressive sales call, but an exchange of information that puts the prospect on equal footing. This makes them lower their guard. The second benefit is the information gained while asking qualifying questions. You can learn whether the client has a problem, or “pain,” as Halper calls it, that your product or service addresses. The final benefit is that it helps improve the quality of sales leads by screening out bad ones. The criteria for screening he uses are if the prospect is someone with the authority, ability, and need to purchase. This information helps sales personnel avoid wasting time and focus on the best sales targets.
While this chapter comes after the Objections chapter, it is really an extension of the chapter on qualifying prospects. It adds the interesting twist of playing hard to get in a cold call. If a person starts losing interest during the call it becomes an effective tool to then say they may not be a good fit for your services. Halper does warn that the technique is tricky and requires skill to use. Two great examples are in business to business sales and prospects that are still indecisive after the first few minutes of the call.
The objections chapter in my opinion is one of the most important chapters in the book. Every sales person will face a situation where a prospect actively tries ending the call. Halper presents strategies for overcoming common responses that prospects use to end conversations. All his strategies focus on engaging the person with questions about their company such as current vendors and command structure. The process extends the conversation and helps the salesperson to better target their pitch and see if the prospect is worth further time and effort.
Pain Is Important
The pain chapter has very important points on how to connect with customers’ needs and convince them you can meet them. As Halper says, ” No pain, no change.” A prospect for whom current systems or products work is less likely to want what you’re selling. If you identify a problem that your product or services solve, you have an in that leads to closing the sales call. Halper points out the different types of pain and their impact and how to use them as leverage in the conversation to learn more about the potential client and further gain their interest.
The Rest of The Book
The chapters in the remainder of the book follow good sales practices and expand on them in light of Halper’s sales model. The chapters cover important topics such as keeping potential clients interested, building rapport, preparation, and improving credibility. Essentially the second half of the book covers the common sense steps a good sales person needs to follow to keep the call going and make the big close. This involves important people skills like sympathizing, listening for problems, and showing respect to potential leads. For example, in the chapter on building rapport, Halper uses showing humility as a key piece of advice. Of course, a sales person should always show some humility. You call someone you don’t have a previous business relationship with and want to convince them to use your company. This approach is important, and this information is something good sales people know. Any sales person that doesn’t know this is in trouble already. The main benefit is for first time sales personnel and those wanting to enhance existing skills. The first parts of the book are important because starting and continuing the phone call is the biggest problem that occurs for sales people, old and new.
Personal Thoughts on The Book As a Whole
Personally, I feel the book overall should be a textbook in most marketing classes and must read material for sales personnel during training. The book breaks things down in a way anyone can understand while respecting the intelligence of the reader. You feel informed and not lectured to. The style uses clear everyday English and explains in a short and clear manner new sales terms. The most amazing thing about the book is that it emphasizes effective work over hard work. Too many sales books say that if you put in enough effort, you get success. Halper clearly explains why this attitude causes so many to fail in sales when simply doing the homework of screening and preparation can yield greater results than most conventional methods.
Revelations By Author About Sales
While the book focuses on cold calling, it provides powerful insight into how to make effective sales pitches from start to finish. First off, don’t sell to people who aren’t interested or can’t buy what you sell. It is an exercise in wasted time and effort that leaves new sales personnel frustrated and discouraged. Second, selling is not about talent. It is a learned skill that anyone who takes the time to practice and learn eventually does well. This is a major reason many people don’t enter the field as they feel they don’t have the “charisma” to convince people to buy from them. Third, there are ways to set real achievable sales goals. Setting goals is important to success in an independent venture like sales. Achieving them is the difficult part. By giving a realistic goal for cold calling such as gaining information and getting a longer conversation, Halper gives sales staff a realistic starting point. Finally, he emphasizes that successful sales come from building relationships. Whether it is gaining the trust of the gatekeeper as mentioned in chapter eight, or finding out the pain and problems of a target, building a relationship during a cold call turns it into warm one.
So to sum it up Mike Halper’s book gives these important tips.
- Your cold call is about a first conversation and getting information
- A successful cold call involves asking questions along with the sales pitch
- Be friendly and respectful to build the foundations of a relationship with the potential client
- Identify a client need and try to match it to your services or products
Simply “The Cold Calling Equation” is a substantive read that provides sales personnel with the tools for successful cold calling. Any person can read the book and immediately apply the tips and information directly and see fast results. The author doesn’t sell the impossible and provides a clear roadmap for successful cold calling. A sales person couldn’t ask for anything more from a textbook on sales.