Cold calling has bad press. Many entrepreneurs, however, view cold calling with excitement, knowing that it is the key that will unlock new business. It is vital that anyone doing cold calls has this attitude and are eager to go hunting for success, relating to the results it will bring, be it their own bonus and for their own company’s future. That excitement is everything.
Here are my other top tips
- Be clear in your mind what specific purpose each call has: it may be just to get the decision makers name; to make an appointment for someone else; to have an initial conversation with a buyer; to make a sale; but whatever it is, that is your target and you are going to hit it.
- Establish BANT beforehand. BANT is budget, (can they afford you), Authority (who has the Authority to make a buying decision), Need (do they need what you supply), and Timing (are they likely to buy now). Most, if not all of this, can be established before you lift a phone or certainly before you speak to the all-important decision maker. Researching BANT properly will save you huge numbers of depressing rejections further down the line.
- You need to create a strategy beforehand. This should be a whole concept as to why it is worth the customer’s while talking to you, which means a sound business reason for them as an individual or their company to take your call. Make this individual, not generic. This preparation may be the difference between failure and success.
- Go for quality not quantity. Those awful, ill-researched calls of the past have no hope of success. A properly prepared, good quality call is more enjoyable to make and several times more likely to succeed. Set aside Monday morning and Friday afternoon for research BANT and planning strategies, because calling people on either of those is much less likely to succeed. Keep in your mind that one perfect customer, is worth a lot more than ten calls to vague possibilities.
- Be honest. There is a terrible association with cold calling that everyone doing it is full of stories. You are aiming to make a long term, trusting relationship with a new client, so lies are never going to cut it. Sales may include persuasion but never deception.
- Get into your customer’s head. You will find they are quite like you. They, too, will be receptive to a genuine, honest and open approach. They will not have the time or patience to listen to a lot of waffle when they are busy, from someone they have never heard of. Have empathy with their suspicions. Set out sound business reasons for talking to you, without trickery.
- Build rapport. You are creating a new relationship. That means talking enough to build trust, but less than wasting their time. Never pressure them. Instead, be enthusiastic about a mutually beneficial opportunity. Let them do most of the talking by asking questions starting Who, Why, What, Which and How.
- Never end a conversation without the customer’s commitment to the next step. A conversation next Tuesday, a meeting next Thursday, a sale, whatever it is, they need to have agreed to it. When you ask for this, ask with a multiple choice question. Do not say “shall we talk next Tuesday?” Instead ask “Would Tuesday morning or afternoon suit you better to talk?” Email and confirm what you have agreed.
- Don’t be afraid to say no. We have this obsession that we are going to be rejected making cold calls. Our mind-set should be that we are as much if not more in control of the selection process. You are establishing if that customer is going to be of any use to you. There is no point in persevering with a customer who does not, for example, have any need for your product or won’t be able to afford to pay you, or will in anyway, be trouble. Feel that empowerment of realising you are doing the choosing.
- Recognize that you, or any other cold caller, may be kicked hard in the teeth from time to time. Find ways to develop resilience. Put all the focus on the winning. Go mad with your celebrations of success, at every stage of the process. Get up, shout, scream, and bounce around, share it with the team and feel the buzz.