That Dreaded Cold Call

To paraphrase Mark Twain “the reports of the death of the cold call have been greatly exaggerated.” 

I know that every salesperson in the country wishes that the cold call was in fact truly dead. But sorry guys, it’s not. To be a salesperson you have to call people and talk to them about buying your stuff. There is just no way around that. Oh, I know that there are all sorts of reasons not to cold call, and in my forty plus years in sales I have heard them all. And certainly social media and tools like Twitter and texting and Linkedin have all offered different ways to get in touch with customers and potential customers, but they have not replaced that good old cold call, only as I like to say warmed it up a little, thawed it out.

So, suck it up salespeople you still have to call somebody you don’t know and worse yet doesn’t know you and ask her to buy something she doesn’t think she needs. That’s just life in the sales lane.

And with sales calls come the inevitable dreaded voice mail. We all hate that don’t we? What do we say? What kind of message do we leave? What can we say that is going to be so interesting, so scintillating that the person receiving that message will just have to call us back?

Sure, dream on, like that is going to happen. But wait there’s hope, like everything else there is a process. There are ways to leave good and effective and productive messages that will in the end get results. Here from the neat little book, The Pocket Sales Mentor: Proven Sales Strategies at Your Fingertips by Gerhard Gschwandtner are some very useful tips on how to leave great voicemails.

  1. Determine exactly what you want to accomplish with your call. Define your objective and tailor your voicemail to it.
  2. Make your message concise and to the point. With each message you leave, add a little more information to arouse the customer’s curiosity.
  3. Insert a customer benefit into the message to give them a reason to call you back.
  4. Differentiate your message for the others and create a sense of urgency.
  5. If you’re having trouble getting through, utilize other communication tools such as e-mails, letters, even faxing (believe it or not) and now social media of course.
  6. Try to find another contact within the company to help you connect with your prospect. (This is where Linkedin comes in handy).
  7. Call early or late and vary your calling time. You may get lucky and catch the customer before or after the gatekeeper is in.
  8. Use humor in your voicemail to make your messages stand out from the others.
  9. Don’t give up if your voice mails don’t get returned after the first few calls. Since voice mail is here to stay, you must integrate it into your sales efforts.

And again, from this book, here are a few more tips on how to get customers to call you back:

  1. Expect to reach voice mail: You know that chances are very high tech you will get voice mail, so be prepared. A tip is to always be prepared if you actually get the real person you are calling. That does happen sometimes.
  2. Tell you customers what’s in it for them: no one is going to call you back if they don’t see what they will get out of it. Make sure you are prepared to let them know what benefit they can get out of returning your call.
  3. Keep it short: yes, yes, yes keep it short, no one likes a long voice mail message and in many cases it will make the customer go negative on you which will defeat the whole purpose of the call in the end.
  4. Prepare your message in advance. As with everything in sales and in life preparation is the key to success. Know what you are going to say in your message even before that little beep sounds. That way your message will come across confidently clear and concise.
  5. Make it unique: If someone asked you to write down a salesperson’s typical voicemail message, you could probably put together a message that sounds like 90 percent of those your prospects hear. Think about that and then think about how you can make your message unique, different, and appealing to the person receiving the message. Personalize it. What kind of message would you like to hear? What kind of message would make you smile? Or better yet want to return the call?

And finally, be enthusiastic, be passionate, and be excited about talking to your customers. Act as if you have great news that you want to share. Think about what you would feel like if you were calling your spouse about a great promotion you just got…capture that feeling and use it in your cold calling. It works!

As the world gets back to normal it is going to be more important now than ever to get back in touch with your customers, the ones you have been dealing with for years and the prospects you are trying to turn into customers. And yes, this is going to require a lot of calling and leaving voice messages. Instead of dreading this necessary part of sales, embrace it, take the challenge of being the best cold caller and voicemail messenger you can be…and in the end you will succeed. It’s only common sense.

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