A response to a typical cold call that lacks empathy or relatability looks like this:
I'm busy and you're interrupting something I'm doing.
Who are you?
I don't know who you are and I don't trust you.
What do you want?
You're selling something. I don't immediately see the connection between what you are selling an Id what I think I want or need, so I'm not interested. You are probably going scam me or rip me off.
I've had this kind of call before and you're wasting my time.
You are going to keep talking about something that does not interest or apply to me.
So I'm going to sit and listen until I find a reason to get you off the phone.
These are common, unspoken objections in almost everyone's mind when you call them. They are the cause for why you get objections, defensiveness and prospects playing the cards close to their chest. If you don't relax them first, they will shut you down before you can have a chance to develop a meaningful conversation with you, where they feel comfortable in being honest about their situation. They will lead you up the garden path of stalls and evasiveness and never get a real opportunity to have a truthful conversation. Before you say anything about yourself or why you are calling they have pegged you as nuisance that offers no value. You must differentiate yourself.
It's not a case of 'qualifying them out', if they refuse to talk to you. That is a very literal, black and white approach to finding customers. They don't feel okay with talking to you, and the fastest way for them to return to a state of feeling good again is by politely brushing you off. If you are making people defensive and not showing an appropriate amount of empathy, then that a fault in your sales approach. Qualifying is important, but it's not the only mechanic at work in cold calling. Getting shut down before you can qualify someone is not qualifying at all.
Here are some empathy statements that I find help relax the prospect.
'Don't let me interrupt you, you probably have a busier day than me anyway.'
'You obviously know more about your situation than me or anyone else, right? So feel free to tell me if you don't see a fit or are not interested, okay?
And relax them by telling exactly what you are going to do and talk about moving forward:
'I'm going to tell you why I'm calling and ask you a few questions, then you can tell me what you think. Is that fair?'
The idea is verbalize what they're thinking. Deal with the issue upfront. At that point you can either work it out or choose to move on. Cold calling is all about positioning yourself from a place of strength and offering value. Being nice and considerate positions yourself as the caring professional, someone they wouldn't hesitate in referring to their friends and family. There is nothing weak about being nice. People will take you more seriously if they piss off Mr. Nice Guy.
Make them feel in control and have the ability to say no. The paradox is that the less you need them to respond and stay on the call with you, the longer, more qualified conversations you will have with people. You are demonstrating abundance, and people are attracted to abundance, and repelled by those who have a needy, scarce vibe, which unfortunately describes most salespeople!
This won't turn non-buyers into buyers, but it will allow you to find those people who want to buy, easier. And you feel better about yourself and the process while you are doing it.