The process of Cold Calling is fraught with fear and frankly, a bit of misinformation. In this post we will talk about what a Cold Call should and should not include and the steps you need to take to get the best outcome.
Cold Calling is the process of reaching out, via the phone, to a prospect – someone who has been identified as someone who may need your product or services.
A Cold Call is NOT a SALES CALL but a CONVERSATION.
The GOAL of the call is to see if the person is, in fact, a good prospect, if they have a problem you can solve and to set an appointment with a decision maker for a future call. Today we will outline Step 1: The Cold Call
By methodically following these steps, you will learn how to make Cold Calls that result in qualified appointments.
First, identify who you will call
A good call list is key to effective calling. Calling any and every business in the phone book WILL be a waste of time. The same is true for calling from an old or outdated list. Make sure you are calling from a clean list of good prospects. Spending time on curating and cleaning your list will lead to better results!
Memorize and internalize your script
Your job will be easier if your script is memorized and its delivery becomes second nature. This way, you will sound more natural and be able to focus on LISTENING and pivoting as needed instead of reading and sounding like a robot. Memorizing the script will allow you to OWN it – to make it your own and to deliver it naturally.
A script will also keep you on track, helping you get to NO more quickly and on to your next call without wasting time.
For more on Scripts and making them work for you, please download our e-book, “Ditch the Script”.
What you do NOT need to do
You DO NOT need to do too much research on the prospects before you call. Make sure you have their name, the company name and some basic info about the company but this will be a CONVERSATION, not a sales call so the prep is minimal. There will be time to do research if and when you have set an appointment.
Pick up the phone
The goal here is to have a 4 – 9-minute CONVERSATION with the prospect. During the call, you don’t want to sound like every other sales caller.
What NOT to say
Opening with “Hi my name is Nancy Calabrese and I work for One of a Kind Sales. How are you?” is a BAD IDEA!
Upon hearing an opening like that, the prospect’s natural reaction is likely to be, “Oh NO! It’s another sales call” and they will probably want to get you off the phone!
“How are you?” is simply disingenuous. Don’t ask.
What to say
What you SHOULD do is to determine if they are the right person for the call and ask permission to give you 30 seconds for the reason for the call.
THEN introduce your company, explain what you do and share what “issues” business executives are experiencing. Ask if they are experiencing any of these issues… and be quiet. Let them respond.
Uncover their pain points
Once they share what their issues are, we need to get to the root of their problems. Keep them speaking about THEIR problems. Uncover their pain and the loss(es) to the company and their bottom line. People buy based on emotion – try to connect on a level where they can feel comfortable disclosing their feelings.
Shut up and LISTEN
Ask probing questions and then really LISTEN for the answers. Ask follow-up questions to dig deeper. Remember to EMPATHIZE. This is a conversation, not a sales call.
Evaluate if this is worth pursuing
By this point in the conversation, you should have a good idea of whether or not your product or services can help this person. If you can, move to set an appointment.
Set the appointment
Rather than try to answer all their questions now or start trying to actually SELL them on this call, explain that you don’t have the time to go into it now and set an appointment to discuss this further. Ask if there is anyone else who should be on that call and coordinate as needed to get this on the calendar.
We recommend setting the appointment for no more than a week or two out from the first contact and to plan for a 30-minute first time call. We find that is a good amount of time to learn more about their issues outline the process and to determine if we can move towards closing a sale.
In 30 minutes, you have a deeper discussion of their issues to determine if they are worth moving to the next step. You can then set yet another appointment to move forward.
If they won’t commit to even 30 minutes, they are probably NOT a real prospect and you may want to cut your losses. The same is true if they want to set up the first time call for a month out. Yes, you can call them back in a month to check in but that is NOT an “appointment”. See below for digging deeper to determine which path to take.
Do they foresee any conflicts?
Ask if there are any obstacles they foresee that may prevent them from making the call. See how you can accommodate those concerns (maybe re-schedule now rather than have a conflict then) or invite someone who needs to be involved in the process. Addressing these concerns now will help ensure that the second meeting actually takes place.
Review the agenda
Before ending the Cold Call, set and review the agenda for the next call so you are both on the same page as to what will be covered and let them know that you will be sending a questionnaire. These mini ‘buy-in’ steps will help you move closer to the final closing of the sale, building trust and solidifying your relationship with them.
Send the questionnaire
Our procedure involves sending prospects a questionnaire to collect some additional information about their problems. It also is a signal to us that they WILL be involved, it gets some skin into the game and helps prepare you for the meeting.
They may NOT be ‘appointment worthy’
NOT all Cold Calls will lead to an appointment. Your job is to determine who is worth continuing to speak with AND to weed out those who are not. It is NOT a failure on your part to end a call without an appointment if they were not, in fact, ‘appointment worthy’.
Some prospects are not worth setting an appointment with, either because they don’t have a problem you can solve or they are happy with their current provider. If this is the case, exit, but be sure to ask for a referral!
Ask for a referral
Just because they didn’t do business with you doesn’t mean that they don’t know someone who might need your help. Studies show that 20% of prospects are naturally helpful and WILL offer referrals. Another 20% are just NOT going to do it. But the vast majority, that other 60%, MIGHT so definitely ASK!
Prep for the first–time call
Remember when I said you did NOT need to do any research before the Cold Call? That was because we didn’t know if there would even BE a meeting. Now that we do have an appointment set, take some time to learn a bit about the company, review the questionnaire responses, pull a few case studies that might be relevant but don’t overdo it as you will continue probing in the first–time appointment as well.
Prepare to make a strong impression with data or stats, without bowling them over with a hard sell.
Don’t schedule your appointments too tightly – leave a gap in between to allow for additional time with a prospect if needed and to take care of your other tasks. And build in time to PREP for the calls as noted above.
Cold Calling is a VITAL part of any businesses’ growth strategy. It need not be something to fear! If you hate Cold Calling, give us a call at 908-879-2911 – we LOVE Cold Calling and can do it for YOU!
And keep an eye out for our next post which will be a step by step guide to the first-time appointment.
Other posts in this Step by Step Guide to Sales Prospecting Success series: