Everyone knows that relationships are vital to sales, especially during Business Development and Captureactivities. Yet, fear of cold calling is one of the biggest obstacles for business development.
Every successful relationship – both personal or professional – starts from that first awkward conversation and courage to step into the unknown. With proper preparation, you can put an end to the 'constructive procrastination' and make cold calling just another comfortable task in your day.
It doesn't matter whether you are just beginning to pursue federal revenue or if you are already an experienced firm.
WHAT ARE THE THREE KEY STEPS FOR COLD CALLING?
Master your fear: Everyone experiences some nervousness or even fear before starting conversations with stranger. Preparation in both mind and body will help you overcome the natural fear of cold calling so you can just pick up the phone
Control the Call: Properly prepare to manage the call's direction with a Call Plan Sheet
Have a 'successful call': Recognize the difference between a "great" call and a "successful" call
Rejection is a fact of sales and it is important to never take it personally. You are looking for the right match, a place and partner who you can work well with and grow your contracting revenue.
There are two important expressions in sales to remember.
"Some will. Some won't. So what."
"Every NO brings you closer to YES"
WHAT KIND OF PREPARATION IS REQUIRED?
AUDIENCE : It is important to really know your audience and understand who you are reaching out to and what their role and influence is in the contracting pipeline. These are the 5 primary points of contact for your calls. Additional training videos are offered below.
Teaming partners (other small businesses for subcontracting opportunities)
Potential prime (researched on FPDS)
Small Business Specialists (within federal agencies)
Program Office (to discuss specific agency forecasts)
PHYSICAL : It is important to be relaxed before you dial so you are ready to speak with someone directly or leave an effective voice mail.
Environment (clean desk, charged phone, clear headset, good lighting)
List of phone numbers
Voicemail script that you have practiced enough to sound natural. Some people like to keep a photo in their sightline so they remember that they are speaking to a 'real' person not 'an agency'
CALL PLAN STRUCTURE :
Mention that you will be following a prepared Call Plan Sheet
Communicate your desire to achieve success as a small business contractor
Respect their time by wrapping up promptly, summarizing your understanding of the conversation and thanking them for their time
ELEMENTS OF AN EFFECTIVE CALL PLAN : Watch video for guidance and examples
Objective. Exactly what you hope to achieve in this specific this meeting
Purpose : To briefly introduce your company and to learn about the specific challenges your agency is dealing with
Ice breakers: Don't waste anyone's time with irrelevant small talk. Begin with an starter that is professionally related to the person or topic of the call. For example, 'I was reading something / heard you on a podcast etc). Watch Neil's video about SPIN selling questions.
WHAT IS THE difference between a "great" call and a "successful" call?
The goal of every cold call is to move your business relationships forward. You are looking for ways to get to the next step that will bring you closer to the right contracts and the right decision makers.
A 'great' meeting may be enjoyable, but if it doesn't achieve your business purposes, it is considered a failed meeting
A 'successful' meeting results in tangible activity and clear next steps
For a successful call, you must have clear 'asks' prepared. For example : "Can you refer me to... ?" "Can you recommend someone I should speak with?"
What to AVOID ?
Analysis Paralysis:Don't try to know everything before the call. After all the purpose of the call is to listen and learn, not to persuade and sell. Certainly don't research an agency in-depth before securing an appointment.
Ignoring the Advice of Experts: If you get advice from a GovCon expert – whether a contracting officer, a business opportunity specialist or a PTAC advisor, follow the advice. They want you to succeed and benefit from their expertise and informed knowledge. Follow the process they recommend. As you do so, you will earn their respect and they will be more likely to help you again in the future.
Watch Neil's video "How to Do Strategic Research Before Your Cold Call"In this incredibly informative video, he shows how he prepares small businesses in advance of cold calls to the federal government. This is not a formal webinar, rather an opportunity to follow along with Neil as he looks for the key data and decision makers at US Army CECOM
Neil McDonnell spent 20 years as a federal government small business owner selling to civilian and defense agencies.
He shares his government contracting expertise in these blogs, focusing primarily on teaching you the process.