One of the challenges that we face in when conducting sales and marketing is making that initial contact with a prospective referral source that we have never met before. Cold calling, whether conducted over the phone or in-person is nerve racking and rarely successful. Unless you have a plan!
Most of us approach cold calls haphazardly, which dramatically increases our anxiety. When you know what you are going to say, you will be less nervous. When you know what you’re going to say works . . . need I say more?
First, you must know what cold calls are and what they are not. Cold calls are not an opportunity for you to get to know your targeted referral source, understand their business, etc. The goal of a cold call is to accomplish one thing—schedule an appointment! Why schedule an appointment? It’s all about the psychology of one person—the gate keeper.
The gatekeeper—usually the receptionist in an office—protects the office staff. That is one of their responsibilities. And typically they see sales and marketing professionals as “time wasters.” When you call or stop in at an office they expect you to try to get “just a few minutes of the doctor’s time.” So when you walk in they go into an automatic defensive mode (usually before you say anything). When you ask for an appointment it immediately disarms them because it is the last thing they expect. Keep this defensive posture in mind, as we will come back to it a little later.
The five things you should say when conducting a cold are:
1. YOUR NAME
“Hello, my name is Luke Fannon . . .”
2. WHERE YOU ARE FROM
“I am the director of admissions and marketing at ABC Healthcare Center, a skilled nursing and short-term rehabilitation facility here in town. . .”
3. WHY YOU ARE THERE
“I stopped in to schedule an appointment with the doctor and his staff to discuss his patients’ needs for short term rehabilitation. . .”
4. VALUE OR COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE STATEMENT
Competitive advantage statement example: “One of the things which separates ABC from our competition is we have an 85 percent return to home rate for all of our short-term rehab patients.”
Value statement example: “We are looking to partner with a pulmonologist to help us develop a program for patients with high-risk respiratory diagnoses.”
5. GAIN COMMITMENT
“What’s the best way for scheduling an appointment?”
One of the most common mistakes we make when making cold calls is that we forget (in a moment of anxiety and lack of planning) to tell the gatekeeper our names or what organization we are from. This increases their defensive posture and will doom your cold call to what my children call an “epic fail!”
The Value or Competitive Advantage Statement increases your chances of success because it gives the gatekeeper information which motivates them to choose to schedule the appointment.
Cold calling is a critical sales skill your team members need to be able to get a foot in the door for existing and new referral sources. Without this skill your team members will struggle to open doors and develop new referral relationships. With it they increase their chances of growing referrals, admissions and census.