You’ve been tasked with winning your company some new business. Now you’ve got chills and they’re multiplying because you know exactly what this means. Cold. Calling.
In a perfect world you’d always keep your ear to the ground, listening for new leads and sales openings. Following your nose, you’d always have specific people to chase up and a verifiable agenda. Business development? Easy peasy!
Unfortunately it’s not always so simple and sometimes you’ll be forced to rinse a database for hidden opportunities, or dial at random (shudder). Forget admitting an early defeat, closing your eyes and just hoping for the best – getting the most out of each call is completely up to you. Before you pick up the phone, read these 10 tips (or regret it later):
1. You are selling something, so don’t pretend you aren’t
If you don’t know them, maybe minimise the small talk. Quit pretending you’re best friends and that you care how they’ve been fairing. They won’t buy it (or what you’re selling). The key is to be friendly and straight forward.
2. If they’ve answered the phone, they can talk
Be very wary of someone who answers your call and then tells you they are busy. If they tell you they are in a meeting, try telling them you’ll be quick then get to your point ASAP. Who answers a call from a random number in the middle of an important meeting?
The same goes for when they tell you they are about to step into one. Don’t ask if they have time to talk, just assume they do.
3. Keep your introduction clear and concise
It’s always best to take the guesswork out of the call. Tell them your name, what you do and what you are calling about in as little time as possible. Avoid long-winded and fluffy explanations that make them switch off.
4. Set a goal for each call
Not every call will immediately bear the fruit you want. Focus on ‘small wins’ in the meantime. Always aim to gain something from the call, whether it’s a time to follow up again, a piece of valuable industry information or the name of someone else worth talking to. Most calls won’t translate to a sale then and there – building relationships takes a long time.
5. Smile through the phone
It’s easy to hear when someone’s heart is not in what they’re talking about. Likewise, being unenthused and miserable will filter into your tone of voice. Smiling while you speak will make you sound upbeat and convincing, like you have something exciting to offer them (which you do)!
6. Follow up when you say you will
This is your potential client’s first insight into what it’s like working with you. Show them you’re punctual and committed – do what you say you’re going to do, when you say you’re going to do it. You’d be surprised how many people just don’t bother following up and miss out altogether. To get this right, you need to acknowledge the importance of good administration and track information in a way that will set you up for carrying out the next steps.
7. Ditch the script, but always prepare
In aid of not wanting to sound like an impersonal pre-recorded message, avoid reading your notes word for word where possible. That’s not to say have no notes altogether, in fact, the more handy prompters you have available and preparation you’ve done, the better. The point here is being as natural and bespoke as possible, while having information at your finger tips should you be questioned about your service or lose direction.
8. Don’t be afraid
This one speaks for itself but is easier said than done. With most cold calls you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. The worst that can happen probably involves you being hung up on, or copping the momentary wrath of an irritated answerer. Go in with confidence and a ‘nothing can stop me / bring me down’ attitude.
9. Listen out for time wasters
If you sense someone is just staying on the line for a casual chat, make like a tree and leave. Cold calling is a numbers game and you want to maximise the effectiveness of your time. Always be pleasant, but try to avoid getting lost in a dead-end conversation.
10. Try calling at different times from different numbers
If you’re struggling to get through to X and you call them at the same time every week, it’s time to mix up your approach. They might have a jam-packed diary full of recurring meetings, so your job is to find their free time. It’s also worth switching between your mobile and landline as your target might get used to ignoring your number if they think they know who it is.
When it comes to cold calling it’s up to you to turn up the heat, and make those calls as warm as possible! Remember that whatever you are selling, the person you’re calling has probably been living without. It is no wonder fobbing you off appears to be the easiest option for them! Be persistent and don’t let them take the easy way out.
What’s your top tip on getting the most out of cold calls?