We had our “home week” in San Diego last week. That’s when our full company gets together to work side by side, sync up on major items, and have fun. We call it home week because it happens at someone’s home, and yes, it lasts a week. It’s not some clever naming scheme.
At the end of home week, I was in the airport security line, when out of nowhere, I was text bombed. My phone turned into a vibrating machine (sorry, but there’s just no other way of describing it) for a full minute. Here’s what I got:
“thanks for the glasses”
Apparently I left my sunglasses back at the house. But as you can see below… that wasn’t the case. Nonetheless, a great text bomb for sure and a great ending for home week.
I’ve never done cold calls, warm calls or hot ones if those even exist. I dislike talking on the phone… with anyone. Ask my family — it applies to everyone. I’m not what you would call a “smooth talker” so if I have any success communicating with people, it’s generally in person. I say all this to preface the tips I’m about to give do not come from an expert in the field. But as with any start-up, you do whatever is most important for the business at any time, and for me right now, that’s selling. And here’s how I’ve found success:
#1 – You can’t sell it if you wouldn’t buy it. If you were on the other end of the phone, would you actually want what the other guy is selling? Sounds simple enough but I don’t think it’s obvious to everyone. You have to believe your product is worth it. This is more important than your product actually being worth it. Now, I’m not saying tricking people is what you should be doing, I’m only emphasizing that you have to be sold first before you can sell to someone else.
#2 – Build a script and then throw it away. It’s great to have explicit points you want to hit on during a call, but you know what it sounds like when you’re reading from a script? Exactly that. It sounds incredibly fake and you may as well do auto generated robot calls if you’re going to do that. So write a good script, rehearse it a few times, and then burn the paper, seriously. Get rid of it. You’ll find you’ll only remember the most important parts and every call goes differently, so not being restricted by a pre-written script will allow you to think on your feet better.
#3 – Pretend you’re talking to another human. Oh wait, you actually are just talking to another human. Fascinating, but when you talk to someone as opposed to sell to someone, it works out much better for you in the end. I like to show interest in the other person’s business, and because it’s genuine, it works. Everyone likes talking about what they do. So you’re learning and engaging them at the same time — excellent.
#4 – Do whatever it takes. If you’re talking to someone for more than 2 minutes, don’t get off the phone without signing them up. If you’ve lasted that long on a cold call with a decision maker, kudos to you, now finish the job. Be creative with the terms if you have to, but once you’re this close, it’s a total waste not to make a deal. Do whatever it takes. Temporary discounts, no obligation agreement, test it out — I love the last one. If you’re confident in your product, once people use it, they should want more of it. If they don’t, your business will fail. So get them using it and prove it.
#5 -Be honest. Probably should be #1. No one likes a liar. There are certain boundaries worth pushing but you should never cross the line and sell something you can’t deliver within their expectations. I’m a fan of under-sell, over-deliver, but that could be a topic all to itself. Bottom line — honesty comes through over the phone. It builds credibility. If you have credibility, people will generally be amenable to trying out something that seems like it may benefit them.
Disagree with any of this? Let me know, I’m always looking to improve–
My start-up has only nine employees, many of which haven’t officially started, but we do have two office locations. The choice between San Diego and Seattle isn’t as obvious as it might sound. Let’s go over pros and cons of each.
SD Pros – weather, office is half outdoors, dogs are allowed, beach is a short walk away, did I mention this is San Diego?
SD Cons – dog bites, but the dogs are small and “unlikely to draw blood” according to the owner
Seattle Pros – it’s easy to stay hydrated with all the water
We’re going to stop the comparison right there since it’s clear SD has an unfair advantage. I will say though that at any place you work, it’s all about the people. If you’re going to spend more than half your waking day with the same group of people day in and day out, you better make sure they’re worth it. Nothing will be more important in building a great company than adding great people in the beginning.