5 Tips for Cold Calling
1: Right person, right time
Great prospecting is about talking to the right person at the right time.
Getting access to the decision maker is key. They might not be the ‘right’ person or the ‘smartest’ person but they are the person who has the power to make the decision. Having this in the back of your mind will help you to become more effective in influencing others and having successful cold calls.
Also keep in mind that your prospect needs your help. They have a problem that you can solve for them, so make sure you speak to them at the right moment in time to solve that problem. That could mean the right time of day or the right time in your prospect’s sales cycle. This might be hard to judge at first so if you’ve never made a cold call before ask your colleagues for some advice on suitable timings to kick you off. Then start to keep a log of the cold calls you make and the quality of them. You will then build up a powerful database of information that will help you to be a better judge in the future
What do you mentally associate with cold calling? Your psychology and inner dialogue affects how you feel and consequently how you act. The negative emotions you link with cold calling will tend to stem from either some form of internal conflict e.g. you don’t really believe in what you’re selling or from an attempt at protecting your ego e.g. what happens if you fail?
You need to re-frame the thoughts in your mind. If you pick up the phone and think, ‘I need to win a sale from this call’, then you will quickly find sales to be a very frustrating industry to work in. Start to think of cold calling as an opportunity to empower you and one that will help you learn from your mistakes.
Here are some ways to re-frame your negative thoughts:
|Negative Thought||Positive Thought|
|I’m rubbish at sales||I’m still learning and every experience is making me a better sales person|
|That prospect was so rude to me!||Maybe that prospect was having a bad day?|
|I’m obviously the problem here||I believe this product / service can solve my prospects’ problems. How can I improve my message to communicate that better?|
Asking questions is a great way to engage your prospect in conversation, but asking the wrong types of questions will have the exact opposite effect. It will also lose you credibility, rapport and is highly likely to be the end of your phone call. Avoid asking your prospect questions about things they will feel uncomfortable disclosing and questions that have no value for them.
Useful questions include:
- What is your biggest challenge today?
- What kind of changes or events do you anticipate taking place in the next 3-12 months?
- I’ve noticed a current trend or problem in your industry is_____. How have you responded to this?
Another great approach to take is to ask questions that create pain around your prospect’s existing situation. For example, if you are speaking with a human resources specialist and you are representing a recruitment agency you might ask how easy it is for your prospect to find the right member of staff when someone leaves.
If your call is going positively don’t forget to finish up by asking if you can set a date for an appointment to meet with your prospect. This is a crucial part of the call for ensuring you move through to the next stage in the sales cycle.
Preparation frequently crops up in sales blogs, but it really is a key component of sales success. The more preparation you put in the more successful you will be.
To start with, think about what your goal for the call will be. Try to think more broadly than just setting up an appointment (which can be very difficult to do from just one phone call). Getting your prospect’s permission to have a conversation with them is a good first goal. Your second goal could be getting an appointment, and the third goal might be getting permission to contact them at a later date.
Once you’ve set your goal it’s a good idea to think about the flow of conversation. What is your reason for your call? What objections might the prospect have and how might you overcome them? What date would you like to set up an appointment for?
It’s also a good idea to do some research about your prospect. This doesn’t need to be too intensive. Fifteen minutes online can help give you a much clearer picture about the person you’ll be speaking with and the organization they represent.
Maintaining your motivation can be difficult over long periods of time. Prospects pick up on confidence and belief in your voice and they also notice when it’s missing. You need to persuade people to buy into you and what you offer. They need to trust that you know what you’re talking about. So avoid long periods of time spent on the phone. No one is productive when they spend extended periods of time on one task without a break. Breaking your cold call time down into smaller chunks will be more effective for maintaining your confidence levels and ultimately closing calls positively. You can also use the time in-between calls to speak with your colleagues about what is / isn’t working for them during cold calls.