Most successful entrepreneurs can benefit from gaining some cold calling tips despite the fact that they are usually natural salespeople.
This is an area of your business that should be systemized, especially as you begin recruiting more sales staff.
You can begin this process by developing an effective cold calling sales script by testing and measuring what phrases and cold calling tips work in terms of results and conversion rates.
A business coach can help you fine tune this process.
In his book Learned Optimism, psychologist Martin Seligman talks about the research he undertook with a life insurance company to find out what made certain salespeople more successful than the others at cold calling.
He discovered that people who are optimistic are far more consistently successful because they are more persistent and keep going despite the knock-backs. Why? It all boils down to how you explain the rejections to yourself.
Cold calling inevitably means you’ll get a few rejections. To a large extent it’s a numbers game so the more people you contact, the closer you’ll get to a ‘yes’.
Seligman discovered that successful cold callers tell themselves: “oh well, only 9 more calls until I get an appointment!” They don’t take it personally and they are optimistic about moving on to the next.
In contrast, people who tend to take a more pessimistic view get discouraged, take it personally and give up.
Before we give you our list of cold calling tips we should point out that there’s no doubt that it pays to create ‘warm leads’ rather than relying on cold calling to drum up business.
Your marketing plan should include networking (including social networking), asking for referrals, PR, public speaking and whatever else you do to generate warm leads.
1. Don’t try and sell too soon
Cold calling (ie. picking up the phone or just dropping in on somebody) should not be about selling (even though it obviously is!).
Your initial intention should be on making contacts, identifying opportunities and possibly starting a dialogue if there’s some initial interest. You can’t sell something until you’ve found out if there’s a need for it and you need to have a conversation first to find out if there is one.
So, find a way of connecting with them rather than pushing what you’re trying to sell. The objective of a cold call is to get an appointment or introduction to find out more about them.
2. Prepare yourself
Before you approach a contact find out as much as possible about their business and from that, find a good ‘interest-creating remark’ to kick off the conversation.
For example: “I know from looking at your website that you’re a writing company, we sell the best quality pens, would you be interested in talking with us…bla bla bla”
It’s also a good idea to have a loose script to work to before you make your call BUT don’t stick to it too rigidly. The idea is to have a general flow in your head and be able to talk through it naturally.
3. Listen, understand, ask questions and connect
Nobody likes being on the receiving end of a hard sell. Even worse, is having someone sell to you who is desperate for a sale.
So, probably one of the most important cold calling tips is to not ‘need’ the sale and be open to listening to your contact without being attached to any particular outcome.
And, assuming you get past your first sentence, make a point of asking questions to find out who the decision maker is, what problems they’re encountering in the area that you’re approaching them about etc.
4. Help and educate
Even though you are trying to sell a particular product, try and position yourself as an expert. Give them impartial advice or send them information that you think they’ll find useful.
It’s about building a relationship – they may not buy from you now but if you help them now they may come back and buy from you in two years time.
5. Stay in touch
Keep a record of everyone you contact on a database and even if it doesn’t immediately convert to a sale, keep in touch with them. The sales process is always about sewing seeds – you never know which ones are going to pop up and where and when they’ll grow.
6. If they say no, let ‘em go
If they flatly refuse to engage with you and give you a resounding ‘go away” just bid them farewell and move on to the next. You can’t please everyone and remember, don’t take it personally!
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