Cold calling is a form of telemarketing where a salesperson attempts to convince a prospective customer to take the initial steps towards making a purchase. It is the most difficult form of sales, as the salesperson is talking to the prospect for the first time using an impersonal medium.
Many companies use cold calling as their primary method for creating sales opportunities. These companies require salespeople who can quickly build rapport with a prospect and compel them to take action.
If you can master the ability to cold call prospective customers, you will become a highly valuable employee that companies want to employ. You can also use cold calling to promote your own business, dramatically boosting its chances of success. To help you improve your own cold calling skills, this article will provide several essential cold calling tips and strategies.
1) Define your objectives
Although the ultimate objective of cold calling is to make a sale, that objective is rarely achieved during in the first call. In most cases, cold calling will be used to qualify a prospect before sending promotional materials and organising another meeting. There are also several other objectives which you can incorporate into a cold call including:
- Learning how much a customer is willing to pay for your product or service
- Identifying the types of clients who love the idea of your offer
- Assessing market demand for a product or service
- Learning what the most common consumer objections are
- Testing different communication styles or scripts
2) Research your prospect
Learning more about your prospect makes it much easier to make calls that provide value and keep the prospect’s attention. Take a closer look at:
- Demographic data
The prospect’s age, gender, location, education level, and other demographic data will determine which communication style works most effectively.
- Business information
If you are calling a business, learn more about their products and services, market challenges, opportunities, turnover, and potential trigger events. Learn more about the person you will be talking to including their role in the business, their persona, what they are responsible for and so on.
- Previous encounters with other salespeople
Even though you are calling this prospect for the first time, they may have a history with your company. Check if there are any records of previous calls to learn their concerns and potential sales triggers.
3) Use pre-sales marketing material (optional)
If you have the address of the prospect, consider sending them some marketing material in the days before you call. This can help by building familiarity with your brand and what you are offering.
4) Decide if you will use a script
Traditionally, most telemarketers would use a written script when cold calling. This helps the salesperson use a tried-and-tested introduction and sales pitch. A script also ensures that you don’t accidentally omit important information or make some other mistake in the delivery of the pitch.
However, in recent years, there has been a move away from scripted cold calling. That’s because many prospects can determine if a salesperson is reading off a script, which leads to the pitch sounding impersonal. Scripts can also lead to the salesperson talking “at” a prospect instead of having a conversation (which is more likely to lead to a conversion).
It is up to you whether you use a complete script, a scripted introduction only, a handful of notes, or no script at all. Try each approach to determine what you feel comfortable with and what delivers the most conversions.
5) Always start with the reason for your call
After you introduce yourself, immediately explain the reason for your call. Try to do so in a way that is clear, concise, enthusiastic and excited. You want the prospect to think there is an interesting opportunity available if they continue listening.
6) Explain what the prospect can gain
After you have explained why you are calling, your next job will be explaining how your product or service will help the prospect. Does it solve a problem they have? Will it provide a new opportunity? Can the product or service greatly improve the quality of their life?
In most cases, the best approach is to ask the prospect a few qualifying questions. Find out if they meet a criteria that makes the product or service ideal for them. Prospects often prefer this approach because it is more conversational in nature. Ask questions like:
- Are you using a competitor’s product at the moment?
- Are you happy with your current vendors?
- What are the greatest challenges your business faces at the moment?
- Are you happy with your employee’s productivity levels?
- Do you often find yourself short of time?
Take the information you obtain from these questions and use it to explain the advantages of your offering.
7) Be prepared for questions and objections
Try to predict the kinds of questions or objections the prospect may express and have satisfactory responses ready. Develop compelling answers for common questions and objections like:
- I can’t afford this right now
- It’s not the right time
- I can’t talk on the phone now
- My colleague needs to review all purchases
- It’s more expensive than what we currently use
- I’m not sure I need it
8) Be ready with next steps
If the call goes well, be ready to provide the prospect with “next steps” that they find agreeable. Have multiple options available including follow-up meetings or calls, promotional material, VOIP chats, and face-to-face meetings. This will allow the prospect to choose what they comfortable with. Whatever you do, make sure you get the prospect to commit to a next step before getting off the phone.
9) Make notes
Once the call has been concluded, write notes which describe the temperament of the prospect, their current challenges, what they liked or disliked about your offer, and what the next step is. This information will be useful for yourself or another salesperson in the future.