If the idea of making a cold call fills you with dread, you’re not alone. They are frustrating, painful, and inevitably expose you to more rejection than you’d prefer to deal with. What’s more, people are as unenthusiastic about receiving cold calls as they are about making them.
So, why isn’t the cold call dead? Because when it works, it WORKS. Every day, salespeople use cold calls to generate millions of dollars in revenue and build lucrative business relationships that grow their business.
Do you want to be a cold calling rock star? Here are a few techniques you can use to turn your cold calls into appointments.
1 – Aim for the Target (List, That Is)
When you’re eager to meet your sales quota, it’s natural to want to pull out the Yellow Pages and contact everyone with a phone number. While that does maximize the number of people you can get your pitch in front of – that isn’t the best use of your time.
You will spend more time to figure out how to help people who frankly aren’t a good match for your offering than making deals that naturally work. You’ll also annoy a lot of people along the way which will result in more rejection than you’d probably like to hear.
Before you pick up the phone, determine the ideal criteria for a company that would most benefit what you have to offer. This could be based on industry, size, location, or even their target customers. It is also okay to have more than one list; you may need to take a different approach to tackling each. Try using small business marketing tips to build your list and discover your ideal customer.
Also, think about who else internally can help you make your case. For example, if you’re selling an app builder, you should consider who would be the primary users within the organization and add them to your list. Your pitch to the CMO about how your product will help them better manage their digital campaigns will be that much more convincing if you already have the support of a Marketing Manager on their team.
2 – Research Your Prospects
By the time you get them on the phone, you should know more about who you’re speaking with than their name and title. You should have a fair understanding of their market, competitive landscape, business model, strategy, and most importantly what keeps them up at night. Each prospect is unique and the more you know about what they’re dealing with, the better you can speak to their needs.
Company websites have a lot of information you can leverage – read any interesting case studies or thought leadership articles they’ve published. Scour the news for any significant developments relevant to your offering. Articles written by your prospect can also give you insight into their way of thinking and personal challenges in their role.
Lastly, try to make your cold call a “warm call” by identifying any connections you have that can make an introduction. LinkedIn and even Facebook are excellent resources for this. Those with mutual connections are usually less sensitive to common mistakes made early in the process, which gives you an opportunity to learn and refine your approach by the time you move onto harder sells.
3 – Prepare to Keep It Short
Your prospect is already going to decide whether they want to continue speaking with you only a few moments after you say “hello.” They don’t care so much who you are and which company you represent as much as the perceived value of engaging with you. When you don’t have time to leave an impression you merely have to condense the message.
Ideally, your pitch should be 60 seconds or less. Once you include banter and small talk, the entire conversation shouldn’t last more than three minutes. Any longer, then you’re taking too long to get to the point.
Practice your pitch and prepare key, open-ended questions in advance. Deliver your value proposition confidently and concisely. Peak their interest in a way that has them already thinking about next steps.
4 – Throw Away the Script
At face value, this tip might seem contradictory to everything prior, but a script is a fast track to being turned away by your prospect before even communicating how you can help them. The best thing to do is to take all the preparation you’ve already done and formulate a loose structure and flow for your conversation. Anticipate how your prospect may react to specific questions and have clear responses to common objections.
Follow the organic flow of the conversation. If you’ve done your homework, you should be prepared for whichever direction the conversation goes and be able to redirect it towards to the goal at hand.
5 – Don’t Sell Your Yourself (Yet)
Ironically, you shouldn’t expect to make a sale during a cold call. The first conversation should be more about the prospect and their business problems and than showing off how fantastic your product is. For instance, Bizness Apps sells a white label mobile app platform but they find out what issues their prospects are facing rather than telling them they need an app. Use this interaction to gather more information to confirm the assumptions made from all the research you’ve done.
Plant the seeds for how working with you can help them further their business goals without being threatening or pushy. You want to build a relationship with your prospect, which requires trust.
6 – Don’t Make It Easy to Say No
Asking questions such as “Is this a good time to talk?” or making statements like “Let me tell you about this fantastic product I have for you” are not good ways to engage your prospect. These are called “easy-outs” – they make it easy for your prospect to exit the conversation and tell you “no.”
As you prepare your questions, think of the most logical responses. If one them is “no” then either drop it or rephrase the question in a way such that no matter their response, you come out a winner. That is, it keeps the conversation going no matter what.
A great way to do this at the end of your call is to give your prospect two scenarios to choose from. Instead of just asking if they’re interested in your product or service you might ask them something that segways into your value proposition.
7 – Perfect the Follow Up
So you managed to have a fruitful first conversation with a prospect who seems interested. As thrilled as you are, you can’t just sit there and expect them to come back begging for more. Again, they probably receive a lot of sales call if they’re not already considering your competitors as other potential solutions to their business problems already.
Neglecting to follow up might be the most significant mistake you can make after a promising initial discussion. Research shows that 80% of sales happen after at least five follow-up attempts, further reinforcing why you shouldn’t expect to make a deal after only one phone call.
Author’s Bio: Andrew Gazdecki is the founder and CEO of Bizness Apps, a company that helps small businesses build mobile solutions to compete with big brands. Their mobile app building platform makes it possible for everyone to create a mobile app for their business. Many of our customers resell apps to cost effectively deliver them to small business clients. When he isn’t helping small businesses, he is out surfing in the Pacific Ocean.