How to Take the Cold Out of the Cold Call with Sam Richter
The Sales Conversation
“Every salesperson worries about their strategies becoming stale, especially when approaching buyers for the first time. If you wonder how you can approach cold calls and meetings with a fresh mindset, then this episode is for you.”
In this episode, Bruce Scheer talks to Sam Richter about the importance of research for improving the quality of your sales calls and meetings. Sam is the founder and CEO of SBR Worldwide / Know More and author of Take the Cold Out of Cold Calling. In addition to his extensive sales experience and numerous awards, he has also built a reputation as a pioneer of modern-day sales intelligence and has developed digital resources and search engines to streamline sales meeting preparation.
Sales Intelligence as a Gateway to Better Sales Meetings
As our society becomes more focused on digital technologies, salespeople must learn to adapt not only to the changes in the market but also to the changes in the expectations of prospective buyers. In particular, good salespeople must pay attention to the sales strategies that work and don’t work in the modern sales environment.
Many sales are conducted using the method of the “cold call,” an unsolicited sale conducted on the phone or in person. Today, the tactics of the classic cold call have fallen out of favor, mainly because they are viewed as formulaic and predictable, making them an annoyance for many potential clients. Most prospective buyers are used to the questions we have been asking for years, and they can often sense the fishing expedition that cold calls create. As a result, many prospective buyers are more likely to show you the door than they are to purchase your product or service.
Sam Richter argues that we can take the “cold” out of the cold call by learning how to acquire “sales intelligence.” Today, we’ll take a look at the what, why, and how of sales intelligence.
What is sales intelligence?
Sales intelligence involves using the Internet and other digital tools to learn information about the people you hope to sell to, which you can then use in a sales meeting to create stronger connections with buyers. Good sales intelligence begins with several key questions:
- What is going on in the world of the company? If you have a personal meeting, you should ask the same question about the people you will meet.
- What is essential to the company or the people you will meet that might make them interested in your solution in the immediate moment?
- How do you make your sales pitch relevant to the company and the people involved in a meeting? Alternatively, what will motivate the buyer to say “yes”?
Effectively, sales intelligence is a different kind of pre-meeting preparation that turns the conversation from you to the buyer. Unlike the traditional cold call method, sales intelligence asks you to consider the type of connections you wish to create with your buyers and to redirect your research to find those points of connection. In doing so, you gain focus for a sales conversation and learn to ask meaningful and useful questions before, during, and after a call or meeting.
Why does sales intelligence matter, and how can it improve your sales?
Before the Internet, many buyers would give a salesperson an hour or two in order to learn more about the product and the people selling it. Today, buyers have what Sam Richter calls “buyer’s intelligence.” They look up the sellers they plan to interact with and prepare themselves for meetings with specific goals in mind.
Sellers, however, don’t often do this. Instead, they come ready to talk about themselves even though the buyer is more interested in discussing who they are, what they need, and so on. However, a buyer is less likely to take you seriously if you come to the table with the same strategies as every other salesperson with which they have interacted. Effectively, failing to do your homework gives a buyer the firm impression that you are lazy and disinterested. After all, the one thing most people are ultimately passionate about is themselves. Buyers are no different, and the key to reaching them is learning how to show real interest in them.
Another way to think about sales intelligence is by looking at the difference between what Sam Richter calls “low price game” and “high price game”:
- In a “low price game,” a seller treats a cold call or a meeting as a means to make a sale. Making a sale is every seller’s ultimate goal, but if you overly focus on making the sale, you will likely ignore the value of what you are offering.
- In a “high price game,” a seller treats a cold call or a meeting as a means to provide value. Effectively, salespeople who care about and show genuine interest in what a prospective buyer is doing are engaged in “high price game.”
Both of these forms suggest that sales are fundamentally about mindset. If your mindset centers on what you will get out of a sales conversation, you’ll not only have less success but you’ll also find sales less enjoyable. However, if your mindset focuses on trying to help a prospective buyer achieve their goals, you’ll find sales more meaningful and more fun. For this reason, Sam Richter thinks sales can be “the most noble profession.”
How do you motivate yourself to do the work of sales intelligence?
There are two significant reasons why you should take sales intelligence seriously:
- Increasing your bottom line
To put it more bluntly: acquiring sales intelligence can increase your chances of making a sale!
- Personal motivations
If you’re the type of person who knows what to expect in a sales conversation – cold call or otherwise – then you have an incentive to acquire information about a potential client that will lead to more direct sales meetings. You should also think about the reasons you want to succeed as a salesperson beyond the immediate gratification of making a sale.
Naturally, these two points rely heavily on your ultimate goals. It is good practice to establish those goals both on a professional and personal level so you can be strategic about your sales methods and outreach.
What can you do to build sales intelligence?
There are a variety of things you can do to acquire sales intelligence, though we only have room to cover a few of them here. Sam Richter has four tips for acquiring sales intelligence:
- Use Google News or YouGotTheNews.com to find information about a company. If your search does not turn up information on a company, try looking at their industry. You can also use the Sales Intel Engine to simplify and focus your searches.
- Use the same resources for the people involved in your meeting to find common points of interest or unique professional details that might be relevant to a meeting. You can also look at their LinkedIn profiles to find some of this information.
- Make sure that your first words during the meeting are about them and their world.
- Use the 3/5 (3 minutes to find five pieces of information) or the 5/3 (5 minutes to find three pieces of information) model to streamline your search process.
Following these essential tips will lead to you asking better questions and making stronger connections with your prospective buyers. For additional resources, see the links in the Resources section below.
All of this begins with you. Focus your sales mindset on “high price game” when conducting your outreach, and look towards relevance, value, and points of connection in your research about an industry, a company, or an individual. You will become a more effective and conscientious salesperson and maintain a continued passion for sales.
- Sales intelligence is a type of pre-meeting preparation that involves using digital tools such as the Internet to learn more about the people we plan to interact with in cold calls or sales meetings. Focus on finding 3-5 pieces of relevant information about a company or its employees to create stronger connections to prospective buyers.
- Good salespeople know that showing genuine interest in your prospective buyers creates more meaningful sales situations and makes sales more fun. Buyers are adept at detecting a fishing expedition, so the more you can do to differentiate yourself from the crowd will improve your chances of getting the “Yes” for a meeting or a sale.
- There are good incentives for acquiring sales intelligence, including increasing your sales and helping you fulfill your personal motivations as a salesperson. Both are important as motivators for switching sales strategies to include better sales intelligence.
- Sam’s Links:
- Additional Reading:
- To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others by Daniel H. Pink
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