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Do Competitor Mentions on Cold Calls Have Chilling Consequences?

Do Competitor Mentions on Cold Calls Have Chilling Consequences?

Anirban Banerjee
Anirban Banerjee
August 4, 2022
5 min read

This article is part of the Sales Secrets Uncovered series where we share key learnings from our analysis of 211k+ sales calls spread over 3.8 million minutes and 12 months. Why? To uncover the stats that will help you sell better in 2022 and beyond!

This article is from the coffee stained keyboard of our Senior Content Specialist, Anirban.

PS: Use this data responsibly. Correlation is ≠ causation. 😇

After taking a dip into unconventional waters in our previous article (Check it out, it’s a doozy), we wanted to address a topic that almost all sales folks are familiar with.

Cold calls.

Now whether these two words make you recoil in horror, rub your palms in anticipation or more likely, just groan, there’s no denying they are a right of passage for those in sales. Much like death and taxes, cold calls too are inevitable in a sales person’s life..

There’s data that suggests that only 2% of all cold calls result in a meeting. And yet, successful SDRs continue to swear by it. Maybe because when cold calling works, it REALLY works. So while cold calling is pronounced dead over and over and over again, it keeps coming back.

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So when we decided to go elbow deep into the data, we wanted to pay special attention to cold calls. Specifically, we wanted to see which cold calls progressed and which ones didn't, what was said during these calls, and was there any pattern we could establish.

Here what we found..

Competitor Mentions

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“What about Brand X/Y/Z? They do the same thing you do and frankly, I think they have a better product.”

When a prospect mentions a competitor, sales folks tend to see it as a hill to climb. There’s a reason it’s termed a sales “objection”. A roadblock.

After all, it means the prospect is not really sold on your product, maybe even leaning towards the other side.

I think you can see where this is going.

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Turns out, when prospects mention competitors, there is a 27% increase in the call progressing to the next stage - i.e. becoming a deal.

This really makes more sense if we see competitor mentions not as roadblocks, but as opportunities to spell out what makes us different. Turns out, the best salespeople LOVE such opportunities, and make the most of them.

Instead of speed bumps, perhaps it’s better to think of competitor mentions as those little ramps in Mario Kart - the ones that help you zoom ahead of the competition.

Upfront Contract Mentions

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How many times do you start a cold call with an upfront contract?

It seems like common sense, but somehow, not enough sales folks do this.

Sometimes it’s just forgetfulness (no judgment, it’s a tough job juggling a hundred things mentally).

Sometimes it’s because they’re following a script.

It might even be the fear of rejection - if they’re not succinct enough, the prospect might cut them off even before they get to their actual pitch.

Whatever the reason, the data suggests that by not having an upfront contract, sales folks might be shooting themselves in the foot.

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PS: The upfront contract is a Sandler concept, but it’s hardly anything super complicated or technical. It’s just respecting your prospects' time by opening the call with an outline of what the call is about, along with an estimate of how long it will take.

And yes, it does make a difference.

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Above: Some of the phrases we tracked

As we went through the data, we noticed that when calls started with the salesperson setting expectations (especially regarding the duration), the call had a 14% increased chance of moving forward (to becoming a deal).

Of course, this very much depends on your style, industry and customer demographics, but we would definitely advise salespeople to at least test this out and see if it makes a difference.

Reference to Introduction Emails

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“So I’m not sure if you’ve had a chance to go through my email…” is such a classic opener. It’s just polite, right?

Many salespeople do this to also ensure they don’t go over information that’s already covered in the email. Some even do it to create a connection or a base to build the conversation on.

The data suggests that might not be a great idea.

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Yes, the mention of emails corresponds to a 6% slowdown in progress rate for deals.

One reason for that could be that prospects often don’t remember the emails they received, and aren’t too happy to be reminded that they forgot. Another can be that sales folks themselves get stymied if the prospect reveals they never read their mail.

Whatever the reason, it seems like it’s best to avoid the topic of emails and go into a cold call as a completely fresh conversation. What do you think?

If you want to really pump up your cold call game, check out this blog with some amazing tips from our CEO Shruti Kapoor.

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