Be honest, which would you rather do? Sit in the dentist’s chair for your semi-annual cleaning or make cold calls? I’m betting you had to think about that for a moment, and that most of you said you’d take the dentist option any day of the week. It’s sad but true that most of us view cold calling as the very last thing we’d like to do given a choice. But that really doesn’t have to be the case. In fact, if you know how to prepare adequately and you’re in the right frame of mind, cold calling can be an extremely effective sales tactic. Trouble is that too many people don’t have the faintest clue how to do it well because they are missing one critical point.
The biggest mistake many cold callers make is failing to understand that the first cold call IS NOT about closing the deal.
The intention of cold calling is not to make the sale, it’s to get the chance to make the sale! This starts with a clear goal on your part ― to find the decision maker so that you can ask some very basic questions about his or her business and pitch your products/services in the next call.
Now, depending on the products being sold, you may find it difficult to set up another time to talk during the first call. If you aren’t able to set something up, that’s okay. Clinching a deal takes time. It’s not called the “sales process” for nothing! Cold-call prospects rarely want to commit to being “sold” at a future time. The first call is just one of many needed to get the job done. However, if a face-to-face interaction is necessary for you to sell your products/services most effectively, then making an effort to nail down a time to meet is obviously critical. You’ll have to work that much harder.
After twenty years of experience, here are my tips to better cold calling:
- Every phone call you make should have an agenda. Map yours out BEFORE you pick up the phone. Make it brief and to the point, yet comprehensive enough to anticipate any potential challenges.
- Try to avoid scripts. Working from a script is limiting and can actually be dangerous because cold calls rarely follow a set plan. What’s most important is that you think carefully through all the possible exchanges and have a well-crafted idea of how to respond to a variety of scenarios.
- No doesn’t always mean no. Many of the negative responses you will inevitably receive are emotional, not actual. For instance, if you call on a business owner that just had a flat tire on the way to work, chances are you won’t get the best reception. Make a note to try back in a month, and keep at it. There are hundreds of reasons for someone to say “no” and almost all of them having nothing to do with you or the premise of your call.
- Days of the week and times of year matter when it comes to cold calling. Avoid calling anybody at 9 a.m. on a Monday. Calling on a major holiday is not a good move, either. Restaurants are crazy from 12 to 3 p.m. on just about any day of the week; and starting at 6 p.m. on Friday, weekends are a bad idea. It’s very important to understand the type of company/business you’re cold calling and when they’re most apt to be busy so that you choose the most favorable time to reach out.
- Creating a call calendar that maps out your plans for calling various businesses at specific times for a given week/month can be extremely helpful and motivating. The key once you have it is to stick to it!
- DO NOT GET EMOTIONAL! Understand that all calls will not go well, but you can learn from each one. Every call allows you to improve your cold-calling techniques and brings you closer to becoming an expert.
- DO NOT PUT TOO MUCH PRESSURE ON YOURSELF! Easier said than done, I know. But if you do put too much pressure on yourself, you are setting yourself up for failure right off the bat. The patient, respectful, yet persistent sales person sees better results when it comes to moving conversations along than does any shoot-from-the-hip player.
By the way, if you are interested, you can check out some direct sales business opportunities. In my next post I will touch on how you can qualify your cold-calling prospects. Until then, as always…