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 contrary. Nonetheless you can overcome its intimidating promise and master it as a skill, with just a little bit of thought, practice and positivity.
Moving on from the pressure of my Sales Manager days, I set up my own Business Consultancy in 2016, and yet still, I find that this topic is ever in the air! I often have to sit with my clients and get them to go back to basics, especially when they feel their current strategies for sales are not working. Just because we are living in the world of SEO and Digital Marketing with its Inbound Marketing and Sales strategies (which can work amazingly well for some companies and not so great for others), many SME’s forget that a fundamental and important factor to their Sales process, still… in this day and age… is plain, ugly, good old fashioned Cold Calling. Yes, that means contacting a company or person, perhaps without knowing them and informing them of your product or service, and hopefully selling that said product or service to them. Simple?
I usually get grunts and scrunched up faces when I mention this to my clients! And I don’t blame them. After many years of honing my cold calling skills, and being very good at it, I never loved it or got used to it. However, it is a fantastic Sales tool and if you get it right, firstly by planning your target market(s), you will generate good long-lasting customers. Promise.
I put this ‘cold calling tip list’ together two years ago for a couple of my clients who asked me to help them prepare for what they knew they needed to do, and (slightly embarrassingly) I’ve been meaning to blog about it since then… excuse? I’ve been too busy cold calling potential clients! 😉
So here are my few little tips to aid you in getting into the cold calling zone. I’ve also linked these tips to a few well known articles on this topic, which provide a more comprehensive overview on the art of cold calling.
Nat’s advice on Tackling Cold-Calling:
• What is your unique selling point? – What makes you different from all the other companies out there?
• Keep in mind using CRM as not just a tool but a ‘company ethos’ (what do I mean by company ethos? I’ve written a whole training day on this subject, drop me a line if you want to know more) Use your CRM to set up target market views (or filters)
Once this framework has been established:
• Create a good environment and prepare yourself for cold-calling (nice clear desk, favourite coffee and snack at reaching distance, easy to reach info you may need if asked unexpected question etc)
• Never multi-task – clear head – stand up if you are finding it hard to concentrate – create a quiet environment without distractions
• The power of positivity is essential – believe in cold-calling – the article excerpts and links below will help you to harness your inner positivity to be a better Sales person
• Statistically, Thursday is the best day to cold call, Wednesday is the second best – never on a Monday morning and a Friday afternoon! (that would be rude)
• 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. As my colleague Mags O’Reilly says: “you have to learn to love the word No. We learn from every no.”
• “Celebrate the little wins along the way, enjoy the path to a sale” (another great tip from my colleague and friend Mags) 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!
• And above all, be confident and practice, practice, practice. (more on that in the 2nd article link) You’re not going to get it right the first few times, that’s OK, expect it and move on! I guarantee, the more you do this the better you will get.
• Finally and as in the opener points – Remember to use CRM as your hub or ‘brain’– add details of the conversation and use it to build a personal relationship (don’t rely on your memory) – add reminders and activities, tasks and appointments, track emails etc…
Good luck and let me know how you are getting on!
Here are some of my favourite excerpts from the 2 articles that I recommend you taking a read of:
In essence cold calling is the art of approaching someone, professionally, openly and meaningfully, with a sensible proposition.
There is no magic script, and while there are many helpful frameworks and methodologies there is no single magic answer.
Successful cold calling – including the effectiveness of methods and techniques – essentially relies on your own attitude towards cold calling.
Like so many other aspects of business, management, and especially selling, cold-calling is how you see it, and whatever you want to make it.
Viewed negatively or passively, cold calling is merely a numbers game, where the sales person’s calling (sometimes called ‘canvassing’ in this situation) is no different to a junk-mail leaflet. Somebody might respond – maybe one in twenty, maybe one in a hundred.
This is the way that unsuccessful sales people see cold calling. No wonder for them that cold calling is a painful grind. Depressing, embarrassing, draining, exhausting, just horrible.
On the other hand…
Viewed positively and creatively, cold-calling is empowering and potent.
Cold calling actually enables the sales person to:
• supersede existing suppliers
• pre-empt the competition
• identify and create huge new business possibilities
• become indispensable as someone who can make things happen and create new business
• build (your) personal reputation beyond job title and grade
• establish relationships and a respect (for you) beyond normal sales responsibilities
• and be an entrepreneur
It’s worth making a big effort to see cold calling in a different way because it is both a key to personal success and to business success.
Why does cold calling hold so much potential?
Cold calling uniquely:
1. positions you in a crucial pivotal role – you are an interpreter, translator, controller
2. is the key to new fresh opportunities – business and anything else
3. and more generally the cold calling capability empowers you to define and determine and take control of your own future.
Cold calling by its nature opens business opportunities that are new, fresh, ‘shape-able’, free of baggage and history, and not weighed down by unhelpful patterns and expectations, etc.
Also, cold calling situations can largely be of your own making.
You are in charge. You own it. You can define each situation as you want – even if apparently you are quite constrained.
Believe it – people who are successful at cold calling can very quickly become extremely independent and powerful.
Your cold calling activities can create effectively a new ‘virtual’ business for yourself, within the organisation or project, as if it were your own. This especially applies in B2B (business-to-business), where business opportunities are unlimited.
This is because cold calling is the life blood of all business – and any organised activity. Without it nothing happens. Even in largely automated businesses the automated systems would not have first come into being without someone doing the necessary cold calling. And nothing would develop or improve without someone being able to use basic cold calling skills to instigate the changes.
Cold calling dictates what happens, to whom, when, how – and even if cold calling is positioned and managed as a lowly activity, as is often the case, two things are certain:
• cold calling alone can create and be a business in its own right – because cold calling is effectively the ability to make things happen – whereas every other business activity needs cold calling to start up and survive therefore successful cold callers can go anywhere and do anything – they are entirely self-sufficient and ultimately are not dependent on anyone or anything.
The philosophy applies in consumer businesses (B2C) too, where even if you are forced to work to a script or a strict list of prospects, you still have the opportunity to develop your own strategic ideas and style, which when successful can (if the organisation has any sense) be extended into initiatives and campaigns for others to follow – placing you in a key role as a ‘champion’ or trainer or project leader.
Significantly, cold calling situations are the natural preference of all entrepreneurs. Cold calling situations are the natural hunting (or farming) ground of all entrepreneurs.
This is another way to look at cold calling: it is the favoured approach of all entrepreneurs – and the reason most entrepreneurs choose to start up their own businesses – they recognise that the best opportunities are new ones.
Cold calling welcomes and makes the most of a blank sheet. Pastures new. No limits.
Seeing cold calling in these terms is 90% of the personal battle to be successful at cold calling.
To enable cold-calling to be this liberating – especially within an employed role – you have to make it so. You have to want to put your own personal stamp on things. To be creative, adventurous – to see beyond the script – beyond the conventional “we’ve always done it that way…”
Cold calling is an invitation to adopt the mind-set and ambition of an entrepreneur – to see cold calling as the key to opportunities and personal achievement, to independence and choice.
With the right positive attitude to cold calling then rejections cease to be problems. Resistance ceases to be insurmountable. All obstacles become instead welcome steps towards success and achievement. The challenges are now the essential experience towards inevitable success.
When we look at what actually happens – and can happen – during the cold call, we see why the cold call stage of the selling process is so potent and full of opportunity for the sales person.
When we stop looking at cold calling from the sales person’s viewpoint and from the customer’s viewpoint, and start seeing it from a business perspective, cold calling becomes a wonderful opportunity that anyone can enjoy and optimise.
Taken from: http://www.businessballs.com/cold_calling.htm (check it out, and the whole website!)
1. Personalise each call by preparing mentally.
Your mind-set needs to be aligned with your language, or the conversation won’t ring true. You need to work on developing a warm but not sugarcoated telephone voice that has that “Don’t I know you?” ring to it.
2. Perfect your phone style alone before making any calls.
If you’re self-conscious about 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. Do you look relaxed, or are your facial expressions rigid? Our exteriors reflect our inner selves. If you look like you’re in knots, your voice will sound strained as well.
Press the “record” button on your recorder, and pretend you’re talking to a new prospect. Play back the recording and listen to your conversation. Ask yourself how you could improve your delivery. If your voice seems unnatural and the dialogue contrived, don’t despair. As you practice and participate in real phone experiences, you’ll improve. Mastering the art of cold-calling is no different than improving your golf swing or skiing technique.
3. Create familiarity all around you.
Use family photos, framed testimonial letters, motivational quotes, or whatever gets you in a positive, enthusiastic mood. If you like, play some music that inspires you.
4. Use your imagination.
Pretend you’re a prospective customer calling a bookstore to see if they have a book in stock. If it helps, record how you sound to get the feel of your inquiring phone voice. It’s always easier to imagine you’re a customer in need of information than a salesperson trying to force your way into the customer’s time. The inquiry call is good practice because the tone of the conversation is “Can you help me?” or “I need some information.” Try to convey that same attitude when you use the phone to contact future customers.
5. 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. 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.”
6. 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 calls.
Taken from: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/245469 (another great website to check out)
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