This post was originally published on sluamor.com as a guest post by our founder, Natalie Cooke.
In my previous life as a Sales & Marketing Manager (for over 16 years), I came to know a thing or two about cold calling (also known in some industries as ‘prospecting’). It was never easy and I defy anyone to state the contrary. Nonetheless, you can overcome its intimidating premise and master it as a skill, with a bit of thought, practice and positivity.
While I no longer work full time as a Sales Manager, I still sell my services through my Business Consultancy practice and assist clients with their sales. So, the topic has never been out of my orbit! I often sit with my clients and get them to go back to basics, especially when they feel their current sales strategies are not working. We live in a world of SEO, digital marketing and a plethora of bamboozling new channels, tools, and techniques many people struggle with. Too many SMEs forget that a fundamental part of their Sales process, remains good old fashioned Cold Calling.
“Yes, this means contacting a company or person, perhaps without knowing them and informing them of your product or service, and hopefully selling that your product or service to them. Simple, right?“
I usually get anything a mixture of groans and ashen faces when I mention this to businesses that I start working with! And I don’t blame them. After years honing my cold calling skills, and being very good at it, I have never loved it or gotten used to it. It is, however, a fantastic sales technique and an essential business skill. If you get the approach right by selecting your target market carefully, you will discover a cohort of good long-lasting customers you would otherwise miss out on.
I developed a ‘cold calling tip list’ a few years ago for some of my clients who asked me to help them introduce cold calling into their businesses. So here are these key tips to help you crack the art of cold calling.
Establish Your Framework
Before you even think about cold calling, there are two very important things you need to have in place:
- Know your unique selling point. What makes you different from all the other companies out there? When you drive this out, what does it sound like? Test it out on existing customers and on people that don’t know what you do. Make sure it is clear and fit for purpose.
- Setup and prepare to use your CRM platform as not just a tool, but a ‘company ethos. What do I mean by company ethos? Basically, it means aligning your people, your supporting technology, and your sales and marketing strategy for success.
Don’t move on until this framework has been established.
Prepare for Success
- Perfect your phone style alone before making any calls. If you’re self-conscious about cold calling, you need to feel safe to act uninhibited. Try this: Gather a voice recorder, a mirror, a sales journal of incoming and outgoing phone scripts, a pen, and a legal-sized pad. Either write or select a favourite phone dialogue, then talk to yourself in the mirror while recording. Do you look relaxed, or are your facial expressions rigid? Play back the recording and listen to your conversation. Ask yourself how you could improve your delivery.
- Do one-on-one role plays, with friends, family or colleagues. Don’t shy away from the ones who are critical. In fact, the more challenging they are, the better prepared you’re likely to be for actual calls.
- Prepare your space for cold-calling. Setup a nice clear desk, with your favourite coffee at reaching distance, information you may need easy to reach for if you’re asked any unexpected questions, etc.
- The power of positivity is essential. Believe in cold-calling. Pump yourself up in a way that suits you. For a bit of a laugh, check out Chris Pratt on Graham Norton’s show reminiscing on what he used to do back when he, too, was into sales.
- Make time for when it’s the best time to call. Statistically, Thursday is the best day to cold call. Wednesday is the second-best. Never do cold calls on a Monday morning and a Friday afternoon, for that could be deemed rude.
- Never multi-task when cold calling. You need a clear head. Stand up if you’re finding it hard to concentrate. Create a quiet environment without any distractions.
- Be persistent – Don’t give up. “Eighty percent of new sales are made after the fifth contact, yet the majority of sales people give up after the second call”.
- Introduce yourself by saying “I appreciate you are very busy so I will be brief”.
- Get used to the ‘No’s’ and the blocks that you will hear and come across frequently. You have to learn to love the word ‘No’ when cold calling. Try to ask why, so that you can learn from every no.
- Watch your tone of voice. You don’t want to sound sheepish and embarrassed, nor do you want to be arrogant. The ideal tone is warm, business-like, curious, and straight to the point. Keep a smile on your face to help. A good option is a question or a cut-to-the-chase statement such as “I’ve got a question. We’re offering a two-for-one special during the next 30 days on all our coffee drinks, just to get people into the store. I need to know if you’ve ever stopped in while shopping at the mall, and, if not, why not? We have got the greatest ice-blended mochas in town.”
- “Celebrate the little wins along the way, enjoy the path to a sale”. That’s a tip I got from a great colleague. I would always treat myself when a sale came in, even if it was just an extra coffee, just something out of the normal that gives you that ‘pat on the back’ feeling!
- Take five after 15. After 15 calls, take a five-minute break. Stretch, eat, sip a soda, turn on some tunes, and pat yourself on the back because you’re making it happen. Then grab the phone for 15 more cold calls.
- Be confident and practice, practice, practice. You’re not going to get it right the first few times. Expect this and move on! The more you do this, the better you will get.
- Finally, and as in the opening point –use CRM as your hub or ‘brain’. Add details of the conversation and use it to build a personal relationship. Add reminders and activities, tasks and appointments, track emails, etc…
Good luck and let me know how you are getting on with your cold calling efforts!