Cold calling, we all hate it right? Is that you groaning that I hear, because I even dared to bring up the subject? Most of you love those articles titled “Cold Calling is Dead”, tearing them out of the magazines and bringing them to your boss saying. See, see, I told you so.” But sorry buddy, cold calling is not dead. Oh, I agree, that cold calling is a lot harder today…but no, it is not dead. But nevertheless, don’t despair, here are seven great tips to make your cold calling easier:
- Target the right companies: Develop an ideal customer profile made up of the characteristics of the ideal customer for your company. Then, do your research. Go to your directories, or Linkedin, or Google, or all of the above, and using your ideal customer template find the right ideal customers to call. In other words. start narrowing in on the right target accounts.
- Warm up your cold calls: Find ways to make sure they know your name even before you call them. This can be accomplished with various “Touch” techniques. A “touch” is exactly that. A touch can be an email, it can be a newsletter that goes to all the customers you are targeting. It can be a personal snail mail postcard or letter. Anything that makes the customer aware of who you are, and what you do, so that when you finally call you will have name recognition.
- Plan the call: Even before you pick up the phone, develop a call plan. This means knowing what you are going to say, even before you get on the phone. Whether a live person answers, or you get voice mail, be prepared to handle either. In fact, make sure you have a number of very attention-getting, and provocative, voice mails prepared before you even pick up the phone in case you get voice mail. Or, if you are fortunate enough to get the person you are calling, then have a script prepared. But, remember to listen more than you talk. Your script should be geared at asking the right questions.
- Be ready for the gatekeeper: Oh, those pesky gatekeepers! And yes, that is exactly what they are. They are paid to keep you away from the very person you are trying to reach. So, prepare to deal with the gatekeeper. The best thing to do is prepare for the talk with the gatekeeper. The first, and most important thing to do is have a real name, of a real person, you are trying to reach. If you say something like, “I’m looking for the person who buys PCB’s. you are sunk, saying this is declaring that this is a random cold call and you have no idea what you are doing. If you did your research, and you’d better have, you will know exactly who you are calling and can say their name with great authority, as though you’ve known each other for years. Think about this, how would you act if it was your own brother who was the buyer, and you were calling him. You would have the confidence of knowing that he would accept your call, right? Okay, now bring that kind of confidence to the call when you are cold calling. Just doing that will help to convince the gatekeeper that it is okay to put your through.
- The phone call: Okay your in! You have the right person on the phone. Catch your breath, slow down your speech, and talk as if you have something to say. Think about that, talk like you have something to say. That means no rushing through your talk. Act like you have all the time in the world, exuding the confidence needed to get the subject’s attention. Tell her who you are and what you want, and then ask a thought provoking question. This should be a question about something you learned when doing your research of that target company. This question should be designed to make sure that the buyer will want to answer the question and continue the conversation. Imagine that you are about to tell the person some incredibly good news. Capture that feeling, and convey that attitude throughout your phone call. After all, if you believe in your product or service with all of your heart, you will feel like you are delivering great news!
- Develop their needs assessment: If you ask the right questions, rather the right line of questioning, you will guide the potential customer to the point of telling you what she needs, which in turn will become your strategy for winning that account. Let the customer tell you what it takes to be her supplier. And then provide her with exactly what it takes
- Summarize the meeting: At the end of the meeting, summarize what you heard your target customer say in your own words, checking with him to make sure that you are both in accord. Then suggest the next step on your way to the customer vendor relationship path. Either the next meeting, or you are going to get an RFQ, or you are going to send him more information. This is critical! Also be sure to set up the next meeting right down to the date and time and get your customer to agree. And then, within hours of the meeting summarize the meeting in an email to solidify what was said and what was agreed were going to be the next steps.
If you follow these seven simple steps to cold calling, and you do so diligently, you will succeed. I’m not saying it will be easy, nothing worthwhile is, but if you are persistent, and you keep at it, it will get easier and you will have the satisfaction of being a great cold caller which s the key ingredient to being a great salesperson. It’s only common sense