Tips for Successful Cold Calling
Cold calling. Even the name is chilling. You’re not alone if you dread the process.
In fact, many people consider cold calling the most intimidating aspect of the sales process.
Unfortunately, even though cold calling is becoming outmoded thanks to digital technology it is a necessary evil part of selling; if you want to grow your business, you have to contact new prospects.
These tips will help you handle cold calls like a pro:
Overcome your reluctance. Make cold calls when you feel the freshest and most energized. For most people, that’s at the beginning of the business day. Think of the call as a friendly conversation, not an adversarial one. Remind yourself that you have a great product that genuinely serves a need.
Research your prospects. Check local newspapers, industry journals and Web sites for information about the companies or individuals you’re calling. This lets you start a call by talking about the prospect’s business, not yours.
Prepare an opening statement. Write an opening statement in advance. You don’t want to read it on the phone; rather, use it to organize your thoughts. Since you have about 20 seconds to get a prospect’s attention, you can’t afford to ramble once you get the person on the line.
Include a greeting and an introduction, a reference point (something about the prospect), the benefits of your product or service, and a transition to a question or dialogue. For example: “Good afternoon, Ms. Marshall. This is Ken Brown with Green Works. I read in the local paper that you recently broke ground for a new office complex. We specialize in commercial landscape services that allow you to reduce in-house maintenance costs and comply with the city’s new environmental regulations. I’d like to ask a few questions to determine whether one of our programs might meet your needs.”
Make gatekeepers your allies. The secretaries and administrative assistants who stand between you and the decision makers can be valuable sources of information. They can direct you to the right person and help you understand how their company might use your product or service.
Stay focused. Remember, the purpose of a cold call is to qualify the prospect and schedule a face-to-face meeting. Don’t launch into an extensive sales pitch on the phone. Stimulate interest, learn a little about the prospect and ask for an appointment. If a prospect stalls by asking you to mail information, set the stage for the next step of the sale: “Let me ask you a few questions so I can send information that’s relevant to your situation. And if you like what you see, can we get together next week to discuss it in more detail?”
Avoid common mistakes. Don’t start a call by asking “How are you doing today?” or “Is this a good time to talk?” The first question sounds insincere or presumptuous coming from a stranger; the second gives the prospect an easy opportunity to end the call.
Stick with it. Eighty percent of new sales are made after the eight contact, yet the majority of salespeople give up after the second call. Follow up and keep calling. Persistence pays off.
Need more tips on SELLING? Attend our Sprint 90 Program and work with pros to hone in your sales skills.