When most folks think about cold calling, they don’t get a warm feeling. Even experienced sales people can be intimidated by the prospect of picking up the phone and calling a new business prospect that doesn’t know them and is not expecting to hear from them. There are plenty of reasons why cold calling gives some the chills. They’re shy. They’re easily disappointed. They feel like they’re bothering people.
While these feelings are legitimate, it’s no excuse not to make the call. The fact remains that cold calling is a necessary and highly effective tactic in the vital campaign to build a successful new business pipeline and grow your company. Yet although cold calling is a significant component in generating leads, it is often given the lowest priority.
Today’s easy access to email doesn’t help matters either. Too often an email is substituted for the more personal and useful interaction that occurs when individuals actually use their voices to speak to one another. Cold calling is the first step toward winning new business. It’s the process by which we identify strong prospects and generate worthwhile leads. Trust that that the actual you, not the virtual you, is the best way to begin these relationships.
The following five tips should help you overcome your anxiety and improve your success rate:
1. It’s No Bother…It’s Just Business
It’s important, if not essential, to remind yourself that when you are cold calling prospects, you are doing business, during business hours, with other businesspeople.
You’re not calling someone’s home just as they’re sitting down to dinner after a long day at work. Your targets are at work, and they spend a great deal of their workday doing business on the telephone. Think of it this way. When your phone rings at home in the evening, you may let the voicemail take the call quite often. But when your phone rings in the office, you pick it up. Talking on the phone at work is the rule, not the exception. You’re not bothering anyone when you cold call. If you’ve targeted the right group of people than what you have to offer will be helping your prospect and you will no longer be perceived as a bother.
2. Research, or be Destroyed
Always make sure to spend the necessary time researching your prospects. First look at your past customers and see if you can find similarities that will allow you to find the folks that generated the most revenue for you. From there you can find prospects with the same demographics. Check out their Web sites. Look for any coverage they might have received in the media or in industry journals. Look into their competitors. You want to know not only what the prospects do, but also how they do it, and in what areas the companies have succeeded and in what areas they have failed. The purpose of thorough research is twofold. First, it allows you to create a viable prospect list by eliminating companies that are not appropriate targets for your services. No need to cold call a fish if you’re selling bicycles. Second, it will make you well prepared. The goal of a cold call is to talk not only about your company, but also to encourage the prospect to talk about their company and their needs.
3. “Less is Better”
Although you know everything there is to know about your product or service saying it succinctly is key when cold calling. I recommend that you introduce the product or service that most appeals to your prospects. After you get your foot in the door you can then up sell other services or products. Before making the actual call, write down what you want to say. It should include a statement of who you are and what your company does, a reference to the prospects needs in that area and an open-ended question that will lead to a longer conversation. Prepare yourself for objections. Objections are a good thing. It means that your prospect is listening. The more objections you plan for the better results you will have. Make sure your talking to the right person by asking some qualifying questions during your conversation and if the person your speaking to isn’t the right person find out who is and call them referencing the person who gave you their name. If you do this, you’ve created a script that will help you to organize your thoughts and boost your confidence!
4. Put One Foot in Front of the Other
For the easily discouraged, cold calling can prove a particularly distasteful experience. More often than not a prospect will be too busy to talk, or if the prospect does have time to take your call he or she will eventually confess that the company is not spending until the next quarter…of the next year! We all share the same economy. Don’t take it personally and don’t get discouraged. Treat each cold call as if it is your first call of the day. Just because a prospect can’t see your face, that doesn’t mean they can’t hear your attitude. In other words, any timidity, disinterest or gloom will shine right through that phone line. When I say smile, I mean it. And stand up when you make cold calls. The simple act of getting out of your chair will increase your energy and sharpen your focus. A good attitude is a key to success, and it’s easier to have good attitude when you have a good opening. Setting small reachable goals will help you to obtain success. If there are 10 prospects to cold call on your list for the day, the goal should be to have a valuable discussion with three of them. Don’t expect to close a deal on the call either. Realistic goals for cold calling include determining the quality of the prospect, stimulating interest in your services, agreeing to mail the prospect more information and/or securing a face-to-face meeting.
5. Following Through Means Following Up
New sales are made after an average of 4-5 contacts or “touches”. Your first touch is the cold call, the second is when you follow up with them (either by mailing or emailing) and then call again just to make sure that the information was received and to answer any questions. At this point you have now touched your prospect 3 times! (Almost there!) It sounds like a no-brainer, but very often we find it easier to move on to the next opportunity than to show persistence. Simple things like doing what you say you’re going to do may not close a sale, but failing to follow through can absolutely kill your chances.
Cold calling is a proven method of generating new business. If you want to grow, you have to contact prospects and generate leads. The cold calling process allows you to more accurately identify solid targets, quickly generate interest in your products and services and easily develop a dialogue with people whose needs match what you have to offer. Just follow these five simple tips, and the next time opportunity knocks, you won’t leave it out in the cold.
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It’s Your Call is owned and operated by Ceri Ruenheck, she brings over 20 years of management experience, with 14 years being the direct management of telemarketing operations. It’s Your Call is based in Harvard MA, www.itsyourcall.com. If you’d like to contact Ceri call 888-839-3135, or email [email protected].