Cold Calling is the ultimate nightmare of most sales people. It entails picking up the phone and calling someone you’ve never spoken to or met, who has no idea about who you, what it is that you are trying to sell, and why you are calling to schedule an appointment.
It’s a very tough approach to sales to say the least, and it takes a thick skin. The rejection rate is usually very high, which leads to a lot of frustration. Yet, sales people must eventually revert to this technique as they run out of “easy leads” and need to keep that sales funnel well fed.
Following are some tips about how you can make the process of Cold Calling easier, and eventually reach a point where you actually enjoy getting on the phone to close sales.
Do your homework
Before you pick up that phone to call a lead, do some research to find out whether he/she could actually benefit from what you are about to offer, and investigate some specifics that you can mention in your call to make the content more relevant.
Between Facebook, LinkedIn, and a host of social media networks, it’s no longer difficult to pre-evaluate a lead before you even make the call. And if you are making B2B cold calls, you definitely need to go through websites to familiarize yourself with their products and services.
Practice a lot
Practice, practice, and then practice some more. When you call people, you’ll probably be repeating the same text over and over with minor alterations. Practice as much as you can so when you do get someone on the other end of line, you come across as confident, fluent, and knowledgeable.
If you stutter, mispronounce words, and make other similar mistakes, the person at the other end will detect your unease and loose interest immediately.
Be polite and don’t disturb people. This is where most sales people loose the ball; they want to cut corners and call people directly on the mobile phones so they don’t have to go through receptionist, secretaries, and personal assistants. Their excuse is that their calls are never transferred when using landlines.
Be that as it may, nobody has the right to call someone else on a private mobile line to make an unsolicited offer. It’s annoying, invades the other person’s personal space, and it will most likely backfire.
Follow the proper channels
You can start the process of cold calling someone by sending a short personalized email in advance to introduce yourself, why you are making the contact, and inform the recipient that you will be calling them on the landline on a specific date and time to talk some more. (You should also mention the number you will be using. Some people actually respond with a correction for that.)
Ideally, that date will be a week or so ahead so the recipient has a chance to reschedule. He/she probably won’t react, but your changes of getting transferred just increased a bit as you are no longer a total stranger.
Build a rapport with the receptionist. If you follow our advice and use landlines, you will end up talking to a lot of receptionist who are filtering calls. It’s their job, and it doesn’t hurt to build a friendly rapport with them. After all, they are the gatekeepers who stand between you and your lead, so it helps to be friendly and courteous.
You might need to make multiple contacts to land that meeting you need. As such, always send a thank you note after a successful call to capture important points you discussed, and schedule a follow up call with the assistant to check on how scheduling that appointment is coming along.
Capitalize on marketing
Integrate interested leads into your marketing machine. You may not be able to schedule a meeting right away, but that doesn’t mean your lead might not become more interested in a few months.
It’ll be great if he/she hasn’t forgotten you by then, and your name is at the top of their recall list once they are in the market for whatever you are selling. A consistent marketing campaign (such as a periodic newsletter) will work wonders to accomplish just that.
Try to get referrals
Assuming you had a successful meeting with a lead, ask him/her – but only once you built a rapport – for names and contact details of friends or peers that might be interested as well. Again, don’t ask for mobile numbers. And once you call those, mention the person’s name that referred you. It’ll take you a long way in landing a listening ear.
Read between the lines
In our culture, saying straight out “no” is not really that common and even considered by some as rude. Your lead may have taken the call and listened to you, but that doesn’t mean he/she is really interested.
Listen to embedded messages and signals, and don’t push too hard. If nothing else, you want to be remembered as someone who is polite and knows his/her boundaries.
Use reliable data
We’ve seen companies who hand out copies of the same contacts list to a team of callers, who then attack those with a vengeance. As a result, multiple callers may end up contacting the same lead, which is really frustrating for that person.
Before you start using that list, make sure that whoever gave that to you is consolidating results as the team progresses, and people who are not interested or do not wish to be disturbed are flagged as such.
It’s only business
Last but not least, whatever happens, it’s not personal. If the other person tells you abruptly that he/she is not interested and that you shouldn’t call them again, don’t take it personal. They don’t even know you. Don’t let it ruin your day, get over it, and call the next lead in line.
About the Author
Pinnacle Business & Marketing Consulting is a results-driven boutique consulting firm that specializes in providing clients with practical and pragmatic solutions to their business and marketing challenges.
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