While there are certainly advantages to calling someone who is ‘warmer’ than a cold call, the mechanics for the call are exactly the same. And, thinking that a warm call can be addressed differently from a cold call is the reason so many sales reps fail to convert as many leads into appointments as they should. The art of cold calling is an important skill that should be used on your warm calls as well as your cold calls.
The only advantage of making a warm call is the willingness of the target to grant you a conversation. While that is a big benefit, the goal is to set an appointment and the pushbacks you will get when asking for the appointment are EXACTLY the same as those when cold calling.
There are three components to an appointment-making call regardless of whether it is cold or warm:
1. The opening script which includes asking for the Appointment
2. The target’s response which is always a No of some sort
3. The response to that response which ends with another request for appointment.
On a warm call, the opening script will vary slightly because we want to invoke either the name of the person who referred us or the fact that they had asked us to contact them through a marketing program of some kind.
This is the extent of the difference—a better reason for the target to grant us a conversation. Again, big benefit, but what we really want is an appointment, so from here on out, the call is structurally the same as a cold call and uses the same techniques.
The target’s response to a request for an appointment on a warm call is generally the same as on a cold call. It is still a NO, but they are just nicer about it.
• A referral target may say, “Hey, I appreciate Barry suggesting you call, but we’re all set in that area.” (Happy Now, Not Interested) That’s because in very few instances does the referrer know the target’s business in enough detail to know they need us, can afford us, and that the timing is right for the call.
• In the case of an inbound request for information, it’s not uncommon for an inbound request to be a tire-kicker or information-gatherer and not someone that’s in the Market right now for what we are selling. (Happy Now, Send Literature, Not really Interested)
In either case, the techniques we use when cold calling to ‘handle the no’ work perfectly when hearing them on a warm call.
That said, the bigger mistake sales reps make is to assume that a warmer call is ‘slam dunk’ and to not only abandon the appointment setting techniques, but go into a sales mode. The temptation to sell on the appointment-making call because of the supposed interest by the target is powerful. It is also misguided and why lead conversion rates are lower than the boss would expect.
So how do we keep from falling prey to this? Role play, role play, role play! Work on the opening script you will use to leverage the reason the call is ‘warm,’ but from that starting point use the same skills as when cold calling to push towards an appointment.