What exactly is a ‘cold call?’ It’s a sales call – on the phone or in person – to a prospect who has not approached your business nor expressed interest in your products or services.
Most people – even seasoned sales people – find it a challenge to make cold calls. But there is a reason why telemarketers keep calling when most people do not: cold calls work.
There are several reasons why businesses avoid cold calls. Cold calls take time. Some business owners may feel that cold calling will not be effective for their type of business. More than likely, cold calling is not used because people hate selling – especially to strangers.
However, cold calls can be effective, especially if leads have been appropriately qualified. If your business is stagnant, or you’re developing new products or services, cold calls can be a relatively inexpensive way to attract new customers. One of the other benefits of cold calling as a sales strategy is that its effectiveness can be easily measured, and any fine-tuning required can be made immediately.
Most business do cold calling already, they just do not think of it as a sales call. When contacting another company about forming a strategic partnership or exhibiting at a trade show – that is looking for new business from prospects that aren’t yet interested in your company. When viewed that way, cold calling does not seem quite so unpleasant.
What’s the secret of cold call success?
Change your perspective. Most people see a sales call ‘bothering’ the prospect. If a business is confident that they will offer something they genuinely believe meets a real need, then the call is not a bother but a help.
‘Qualify’ leads. Narrow down a target list. This saves time and increases the rate of success. What makes a qualified lead? Identify those characteristics that ideal customers have in common and concentrate on other prospects with those same characteristics.
Listen. Before beginning a sales pitch forward, find out what the prospect wants and needs. Then, make sure that the product or services is a good fit with their needs.
Develop a simple introduction. Write down a clear succinct summary of what your business does and what is being offered. Consider the objections that are likely to be received and have a response ready.
Set goals. Set a minimum – but realistic – number of calls you have to make before the end of day and stick to it.
Have tangible objectives. Avoid having vague objectives, such as getting to know the customer. Make sure that calls focus on a tangible outcome such as orders received or appointments set.
Practice makes perfect. Cold calling is difficult and it is easy to forget how to do it well. One of the best ways to do this is to ensure that cold calling is part of an ongoing sales activity – not something that is done when business is slow. Customers can tell when the only reason a business is calling is because they are desperate for the sale.
Finally, remember that most people are truly likeable and do not want to make the life of a sales person unpleasant. By following some of the ideas above, a sales person cannot be any worse off by making the call.