“I hate cold calling!”
Of course you do. It’s the worst way to generate qualified business leads, it’s the hardest form of selling, and it’s often tasked to those who are least qualified to do it. It usually leaves you disheartened with its minimal results. But, unfortunately, there’s no way around it: sometimes it must be done.
“So how can I make the most of a cold call?”
Determine your objective
Salespeople cold call for all sorts of reasons:
To gain information about the decision maker
To qualify the prospect
To gain an appointment
To make a sale
Before picking up the phone or stepping into your prospect’s place of business, have a clear understanding of what YOU hope to gain from the cold call experience. But make sure your expectations are realistic!
Usually, the only realistic expectation of a cold call is to gather the information needed for a successful next attempt. The purpose of the experience is NOT necessarily to sell your product, but to sell the next step toward purchasing that product.
Research your prospect
Always take the time to get to know your prospect before you contact them. Cold calling should NOT be used for research. Search for your prospect on the internet or read articles about their business. Don’t waste their (and your) time by asking your prospect simple questions that could be answered within five minutes of looking at their website.
Knowing the basics about your prospect will show them that you respect their company and their time. It will also help you tailor your comments and questions to match their individual qualities and needs. This will easily distinguish you from all those other salespeople who hope to learn about that prospect after calling them.
After research, you should gain an idea of the types of business problems your prospect may face. Use this knowledge to prepare information that is relevant and valuable to their company.
Any salesperson can ask qualifying questions during a cold call to uncover the business problems of their prospect, but a great salesperson will already know their prospect’s problems, and have a solution before calling.
Create a customized document with their business name and tips to improve a specific situation, or give them an article that they may find useful in their industry. Whatever it is, make sure it is something that your prospect will see as valuable, and be ready to present this material immediately in the cold call.
Giving them value first will grab your prospect’s attention and will change the tone of the entire experience. Your prospect will see you as a resource, rather than just a salesperson.
After all, people don’t want products, they want solutions. If you can’t help them solve their problem, then they won’t listen to you!
Know how to make a friend
In sales, it is all about who remembers you.
Who will remember you enough to call you back?
Who will remember to refer you to others?
People remember friends, not strangers who try to persuade them to purchase their products. Creating a relationship with your prospects will ensure a memorable experience that will lead to more communication and potential sales.
Combine friendliness and value by giving your prospect a joke or cartoon that is sure to get a chuckle. Make them laugh and feel relaxed around you. If they feel at ease with you, they will feel comfortable discussing business matters and problems with you.
Be enthusiastic and friendly to everyone you come in contact with. (Not just those you think are important). If you aren’t speaking with the decision maker, you may be speaking with someone who will determine whether or not you ever speak to him/her.
Although cold calling is a difficult way to generate leads, there are ways of making this initial contact enjoyable. Have a clear objective and determine what needs to be done to achieve it before calling. Being prepared will make the experience enjoyable for you and your prospect and will set you and your company apart.
Tom Richard publishes a weekly ezine entitled Sales Muscle. to subscribe to this free weekly ezine on selling skills, send a blank email to firstname.lastname@example.org