211: Outbound Calls To New Clients During COVID-19

The Sales Japan Series

10-11-2020 • 13 mins

Sales is always a tough job, but not being able to get any new clients during Covid-19 just takes the degree of difficulty right to the top of the scale.  Every company I speak with says the same thing – they cannot get any new clients at the moment, so they are stuck.  Even when the target decision-maker is in the office, it is diabolically difficult to get through the steel wall erected to keep out salespeople.  Today many buyers are safely tucked up at home, just placing them at that even more distant point away from us.  The person who answers the phone when we call, has not the slightest interest in connecting us, in fact, they are hell bent on getting rid of us altogether.  We know they will get scolded by the boss, if they put through a pesky salesperson.  So we have to make sure that we are bringing so much value, that the boss won’t get upset. Here is a Four Step approach to deal with this conundrum.

Step One is give your company name, your own name and who your company is.  The who you are part must be brief and overflowing with credibility at the same time.  For example, “Hello, my name if Greg Story from Dale Carnegie Training Japan.  We are experts in soft skills training, globally for the last 108 years and here in Japan for nearly 60 years”.  Key words are “soft skills training”, “global”, “108 years” and “nearly 60 years”.  In one short sentence the key unique selling points have been highlighted.

Step Two is why we are calling.  We need to go straight to the pain point facing similar competitors in their industry.  “Recently, we have had many of your competitors calling us asking about leadership training for leaders dealing with remote teams.  The new Covid-19 situation has made leading teams much harder and companies are noticing the substantial drop in productivity. Despite their best efforts they have not been able to find any answers internally.”  Japanese companies are often paranoid about what their competitors are up to, so it is always good practice to frame things such that this company is missing out on what their rivals all know. Now we explain that we have been able to fix that problem.  “We have been able to provide on-line training for leaders on how to lead effectively in this new environment and these companies have seen immediate improvements in productivity across the board”.

Step Three is where we go for connecting with the decision-maker.  We suggest that this company can also enjoy all the advantages of other companies we have helped.  We approach this is a humble way, by saying, “Maybe we can do the same for your company, so please transfer me through to the person in charge of this area of the business. I am sure that they are really frustrated by now with being unable to improve the leaders’ ability to lead remote teams”.  We need to reiterate that they have a major problem, they are not fixing it themselves and the decision-maker will be really glad to hear from us.

Step Four is for the 99.9999% of cases when they won’t transfer us to the decision-maker.  They give us the brush off by saying, “They are not available at the moment” and expect us to crawl away, slip under a rock and disappear out of their lives forever.  We again repeat the key pain point with a sense of urgency.  “Thank you, I understand. In your industry, your competitors had initially suffered from reduced performance outcomes until we gave them the training to totally fix those issues.  Now they are doing really well. I am sure the person in charge of these results will really want to know how we fixed that issue for your rivals. Please write down my name and number and pass that information to them, so that I can explain how we fixed the issue for your competitors.  My name is Greg Story from Dale Carnegie Training Japan and my number is 080-1106-2328.  If I don’t hear from them, I will call back again the day after tomorrow.  I know you are busy, so thank you for passing on the message.”

We have done a couple of things here.  Importantly, we don’t ask them for permission to leave a message.  We are instead instructing them to write down our name and number and pass it on to the boss.  We also mention we will be calling back in two days if we don’t hear from them.  It signals they cannot get rid of us so easily and that we are going to keep calling back, until we get to speak to the person we need to help.

So altogether, it sounds like this:

“Hello my name if Greg Story from Dale Carnegie Training Japan.  We are experts in soft skills training, globally for the last 108 years and here in Japan for nearly 60 years. Recently, we have had many of your competitors calling us asking about leadership training for leaders dealing with remote teams.  The new Covid-19 situation has made leading teams much harder and companies are noticing the substantial drop in productivity. Despite their best efforts they have not been able to find any answers internally. We have been able to provide on-line training for leaders on how to lead effectively in this new environment and these companies have seen immediate improvements in productivity across the board. Maybe we can do the same for your company, so please transfer me through to the person in charge of this area of the business. I am sure that they are really frustrated by now with being unable trying to improve the leaders’ ability to lead remote teams” .

“They are not available at the moment”.

“Thank you, I understand. In your industry, your competitors had initially suffered from reduced performance outcomes until we gave them the training to totally fix those issues.  Now they are doing really well. I am sure the person in charge of these results will really want to know how we fixed that issue for your rivals. Please write down my name and number and pass that information to them, so that I can explain how we fixed the issue for your competitors.  My name is Greg Story from Dale Carnegie Training Japan and my number is 080-1106-2328.  If I don’t hear from them, I will call back again the day after tomorrow.  I know you are busy, so thank you for passing on the message”.

We all know that cold calling has a low success rate, but it is part of the tool box and this is the moment when we need to be wielding every tool at our disposal.  If we are going to get anywhere, then we have to doing cold calling at the highest level of skill.  Your competitors will either not be doing it at all or will be making a mess of it.  This is the chance to go for it, because you have nothing to lose and all to gain.