Despite Sales 2.0 claims cold calling is dead, there is still a place for cold calling and knowing how to do it is a critical differentiator. For many sales people, cold calling is the best and most effective way to build a pipeline. Get good at it and sell more stuff.
It will be no surprise to readers of this blog when I tell you my secret is a combination of process and straight up determination, sprinkled with agression. To be a good cold caller it’s key to understand the environment. Cold calling is interruptive. It’s not permissive. Therefore from the second the call is placed, the people on the other line have their defenses up and are NOT receptive until you make them that way. Knowing this going in makes the practice of cold calling much easier in my opinion. Because cold calling is interruptive and not permissive it requires 3 things be executed flawlessly:
- You have to know who your going to call and why
- You have to know exactly what your going to say and why
- You have to set goals
- Don’t stop until they say no!
You have to know who you are calling – have a calling list.
Before you pick up the phone and start making calls, you have to know who you are calling and why. Let’s call this pre-qualifying. Pre-qualifiying means creating a key customer profile that outlines the traits of a company that is the best possible fit for what you are selling. Build a list of pre-qualified companies to work from. Make it as long as possible before you start calling. Don’t do research while you call, it slows down the process and makes it difficult to get into a rhythm. A calling list is the most valuable asset a cold caller can have. Spend the time upfront building yours. It will make all the difference.
Know what you are going to say
You are only going to have 5 seconds to capture someones attention. If you don’t know what your going to say, you’ll look like this clown. I’m not a big fan of “scripts.” Actually, I hate them. Scripts are constricting, impersonal and don’t always align with the flow of the call and what the person on the other line wants to hear. I prefer improvisation. Improvisation doesn’t mean wing it. It means you have a set of key messages you know you must get out, but how you get them out and when, is driven by the call.
Create a set of key messages you think are critical to your customer. My approach is to make sure they impact the key business elements of my target customers. I don’t talk about my product, but rather what my product affects in their business. Jill Konrath’s book Snap Selling does a great job describing this. I highly suggest you check it out.
Set daily cold call goals. The hardest part of cold calling can be just making the calls. Set goals you know will ensure you can make your numbers. Know how many calls you need to make in a day to get the numbers you need. Know how many “new” calls you are going to make AND how many return calls you will make. New calls are calls made to someone on the list you’ve never called before. Return calls are someone on the list you didn’t get a hold of the last time you called them. Overtime, as you call more often, your call back list is going to be as equally as big as your new call list. I think this is where most people make the biggest cold calling mistake. If they don’t get a hold of someone in one or two tries, they stop calling.
When I cold call (doing it again for the first time in years as I get Socially Booked off the ground), I don’t stop calling until I get a hold of someone. I make a call, leave a message, then set a reminder to call them back again in a week or two. But, I never, I mean never, stop calling until I get a no thank you.
Don’t stop until they say “NO!”
This is where determination and stamina come into play. I will not stop calling until I get a no. Without a no, I don’t know why they aren’t calling back and I’m not willing to say no for them. My rational is this; if you’re not interested you’ll let me know. Otherwise, I figure you want to talk but your just too busy and it keeps slipping to the next day. For every prospect that has angrily told me to stop calling, 5 have thanked me for my persistance and were glad I kept on them as they wanted to talk but were so busy they never got around to it. — Don’t stop until they tell you to stop.
I haven’t had to make cold calls in years. Now that I’m working on Socially Booked I am calling ski resorts everyday and I’m using this method. I have a list of ski resorts to call. I know what I am going to say every time I get someone on the phone and what type of message I’m going to leave. The message is crisp and to the point. I have a set number of calls I’m going to make each day and I can’t move onto something else until I’ve met my goal. As I make my calls, those people I don’t get a hold of go into a que to be called back in a week. If I don’t connect in a week, I call again another week later and I keep calling until I talk to someone in person.
Cold calling is not dead. It maybe warping. But, regardless of what it’s doing or not doing, doing it right matters. Do it right and it will reward you handsomely.
How do you cold call?