Post From the Trenches: Cold Calling

Even experienced sales professionals wince a little at the thought of dialing up an unknown person and attempting to persuade him/her to entertain the idea of doing business.  Those who perceive themselves as busy often never answer their phone.  Those who are reached usually decline the offer.  Yet if by some stroke of luck you reach a VIP,   prepare yourself to both deliver a pitch that will keep the prospect on the phone and hit a single to keep the inning alive.

Cold calling is prospecting and it is not the time for selling,  but rather for determining whether there can be an opportunity to sell.  Hitting a home run is not on the agenda.   During the call,   confirm whether the prospect perceives a need for your product or services and ask for a meeting.  In advance,   you will have researched the company and will be able to anticipate basic information that may be requested.

But first,  one must reach the prospect.   We all know this is increasingly difficult,  but 8:00 AM and 5:30 PM are good times to call: there are usually fewer distractions at those times.   If you have the prospect’s mobile phone number,  text a concise and tantalizing sentence about how your offerings might help the decision-maker to achieve an important goal and request a time to talk,  in person or by telephone.   If you do reach a warm body,  here are some hints that will help you execute a successful cold call:

Write a script

Identify yourself and your company.  State your product or service.   Confirm that you’ve called at a convenient time.   If told that your timing is not good,  as for a better time to call.   If told that you’ll be given a minute,  thank the prospect and say that you will be brief.  State an outcome achieved  (or problem avoided)  when using your product or service that is relelvant enough to intrigue your prospect and entice him/her to keep listening and ask for a couple of details.  Concisely fill in with a couple of pieces of information.   Ask how the need in question is being fulfilled now,  so that you can position your product/service.   Ask the prospect what  specific information would be appreciated and if he/she can see how what you are selling might be useful.   Ask permission to extend the time limit on the call and also offer to schedule a time to speak in person.

Speak with the decision-maker

In general,  there is no reason to speak with a gatekeeper,  unless that individual is able to facilitate access to the decision-maker or provide accurate information about competitive products and services that the decision-maker is now using.  Ideally,  you want to speak only with the person who has the authority and budget to green-light your presence.

Pursue prospects with big-money potential

Active pursuit of small budget clients is a waste of time.   Because they have little money,  small clients agonize over budgets and will do whatever possible to limit your billable hours.  Unless your goal is to gain experience,  let the small clients come to you.

Name drop

People usually trust those with whom they share a common relationship.  In other words,  if you are trying to get in the door somewhere,   obtain permission to use the name of a person whom the prospect trusts and respects.  Also, ask the referral source to speak on your behalf should the prospect want to check you out.

Make your cold call a dialogue,  a two-way conversation.  Listen to your prospect and respond to questions and objections.  Be pleasant and professional.  Even if you don’t do any business,  that prospect might refer you to a colleague.

Thanks for reading,

Kim

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