Brilliant recruiters are brilliant sales people; you have to be. Winning new business is a huge part of being a good recruiter; always following your nose and picking up the phone to build new bridges and widen your network. As chilling as cold calls can be, sometimes they are the only way to get in the ear of business people who you’d love to turn into clients. There are a lot of factors effecting the outcome of a cold call, many of which are completely out of your hands. From the recipient’s mood, to the time of day, often prospecting is a numbers game. However, there are several ways recruiters can kill their own chances at a successful call, by saying damaging phrases to fill awkward silences.
Here are 6 phrases to avoid if you want to be taken seriously on a cold client call:
1. “How are you?”
Asking someone you don’t know how they are is a really ineffective way of building rapport and sounding friendly. It’s a worn out line that really doesn’t mean anything to anyone involved, instead just feels like a time-waster. The lack of specificity highlights you really don’t know the person you’re speaking with, because if you did, you’d start off with something more personal. “How are you?” is a forced formality which is extremely obvious, and often perceived to be the warning sign of a sales call. Choose an alternative that is unique and addresses something specific, more directly, prompting more of a response than just “good thanks”.
When making a cold call, it’s easy to feel guilty for taking someone’s time when they aren’t expecting it. You need to nip this attitude in the bud early on, and remember you are calling a prospective client with the hopes of selling them something that will ultimately add huge value to their business or day-to-day. Nervousness and self-doubt will definitely creep into your tone of voice if they are dictating your emotions. If you feel apologetic, you will likely apologise throughout the call to take the ‘edge’ off the abruptness. What you’re really doing by apologising, is forcing the recipient to feel you have wronged them or are wasting their time. Otherwise, why would you need to say sorry? You’re just doing your job.
3. “I know you get these calls all the time”
This immediately pushes you into the ‘annoying calls’ pile. Sure, they may receive similar calls from recruiters trying to vie for their business, however they don’t receive your call all the time, so don’t pigeon-hole yourself with every other cold caller. Saying this also implies that what you are doing is routine, and not bespoke to their needs. It’s important to treat each call like a unique relationship-building exercise, not just a chance to cross a name off a list so your cold call stats look good for your boss.
4. “I’m just calling to catch up”
This immediately screams sales, sales, sales. Not only does it create an unwanted air of mystery surrounding the purpose of your call, but it also makes you sound like you have nothing better to do than call people simply to chat about not much at all. If you can’t state the real reason for your call, you will leave a lot of room for guesswork and your recipient will assume the worst – they don’t know you from a bar of soap. The lack of transparency will create a sense of unease; instead, be up front about why you are calling and deal with the response accordingly.
5. “I know you’re busy”
Most people are busy at work, including you; it’s a given. Telling your recipient that you understand they are busy makes you sound like you are grovelling for their approval to be having the call. At the end of the day, you are fulfilling your workplace duties by making that call, and they are filling theirs by answering it. Furthermore, stating that you know they are busy highlights that you have ignored this fact and demanded their attention anyway. Saying this will make them think, “if you know I’m busy, why are you calling me?” Also remember that if they answer their phone, they aren’t busy and they can talk… or else you would have been bumped in the first instance.
6. “Who is the decision maker?”
There are many things wrong with this. Firstly, ‘decision maker’ is a term used in recruitment agencies, and is extremely salesy in nature. Use of this word makes you sound like you’re chasing sales. Secondly, it highlights you haven’t done your research; good recruiters will attempt to map out an organisation’s management structure beforehand so they have some idea of who they need to speak to for what. Instead of asking this question outright, why not try dropping in names of people you’ve spoken to in the past, or referencing the recipient’s colleagues’ names to create a sense of familiarity.