Cold calling is difficult for many people, even B2B sales professionals. While most people would rather have root canal than make cold calls, others are naturals at it. Although many consider cold calling annoying, and others feel it is ineffective, there is plenty of evidence that cold calling is an effective strategy when done correctly. For salespeople who aren’t happy with the amount of sales they make or the number of appointment they get, there are a few techniques anyone can employ to improve cold calling skills.
Warming Up the Prospect
Before calling new prospects, it sometimes helps to send them a promotional item to get their attention. The item doesn’t have to be expensive, but it should be unique and memorable. When you call, leverage social insights or other watchlist items to reference something
Doing Your Research
It is a good idea to learn a little about the prospect’s company or industry before cold calling. The Internet is an endless source of information so doing research isn’t hard. A good way to keep the conversation going is to tell the prospect something of interest he may not know about. And, if the prospect does have the information, it makes you seem knowledgeable.
Finding the Right Person
In a large company there are many positions, so it is imperative that you find the right person to pitch to. Your chances of getting an appointment increase greatly if you are talking to the person who actually has the power to buy from you. Once you track down the right person to talk to, research this person. Visit professional networking sites to find out about job history, awards, personal interests and other useful information. You should realize that when a person hangs up on you, it is usually because you don’t have the right contact.
Improving Your Attitude
The right mindset is important when cold calling. If phoning is something you dread doing, this feeling will come across during the call. A better way to view cold calling is to see it as a challenge, a competition that you want to win. Another method is simply to see the call as a short conversation. Find a way to actually enjoy picking up the phone to make a call. When you call, don’t think that you are imposing. Instead, remind yourself that you have a good product or service that can help the prospect.
Getting the Appointment
The important thing is to keep the phone call short and concise. Briefly tell prospects about your company and how it can help them. This should only take a few minutes. When asking for an appointment, suggest a specific date and time. The prospect is then more likely to suggest a more convenient day and time. Making vague suggestions such as “Let’s meet next week” or “How about meeting on Thursday” isn’t as effective in getting a yes.
Setting a Time Limit
Many prospects will object to a meeting by saying they are too busy and don’t have the time. When they say this, your response is to let them know you only need five or 10 minutes of their time, and in that short period you can show them how your product or service can help their business.
Sending an Email
One way to continue the momentum is to send out emails to prospects. After each phone call, send the prospect an email outlining any points made during the call. Also remind the contact of the day and the time you will meet. This immediate email makes you more memorable.
Cold calling doesn’t have to be grueling if you have the right attitude, the right person and the right techniques. With practice, any sales professional can improve the results of his prospecting.