When you think of cold calling many think of a tedious or difficult task of reaching out to complete strangers. To some this is considered scary as they assume people won’t be very receptive and just be flat-out rude. Others see this task as mind-numbing. But there is a small population of salespeople who thrive under this channel.
Those who struggle and wish to improve on this, don’t worry, the skill can be honed. You might not learn overnight but you can overcome your fear and become more confident on the phone. Here are 5 Fantastic Cold Calling TIps
Motivational speakers will often reference the 5 Ps (Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance) in many of their speeches when it comes to being successful at any task. They’re right. We might not be prepared for that first call where the prospect is upset and clearly doesn’t want to speak (especially to a stranger) but if we’re knowledgeable about what we’re pitching and have rebuttals in place, you can keep them on the phone long enough to have them also determine whether or not you’re a good fit..
Preparation is all about having a small list of things you know about this prospect from the get-go. Things like full name, company, position, city and industry. This is what marks the difference between cold calling and outbound calling. With this information if you have 1-2 minutes to do a little research and are confident enough to keep them on the call for more than 30 seconds, you can do wonders.
I for one am not a fan of company issued scripts. They tend to kill creativity and limit the caller. That’s not to say scripts are bad, but you do need to find your own style.
Scripts are intended to be acted out, not repeated robotically. Think of the best performances you’ve seen from a Hollywood actor/actress. I immediately thought of Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker back in 2008. He brought the Joker to life, he went beyond the script and gave the character his personal touch. Had he gone the Jack Nicholson route in Batman 1989, ledger’s performance might not have been as memorable. Not to say the original wasn’t good but adding your own touch to any screen allows you to try different things until you feel comfortable and it works.
Back when I was cold calling it was difficult to get started with that first phone call of the day. Why? Because I hated rejection.
Getting a customer who didn’t even let you explain why you were calling was the worst, it would usually set the tone for the day. Have you ever gotten into an argument at home be it with your parents or spouse right before you got to work? Your mood would be shot for the rest of the day and sometimes you didn’t even know why. Well, that’s what that first rejection of the day felt like for me.
After a while, though, I was intrigued to know what about my phone persona wasn’t appealing to my prospects. These resounding NOs became the best feedback possible. I used to just think the prospects that said no just weren’t the right fit for what I was pitching.
After listening to the CEO of our company cold call, I realized he encountered the same issues I did.
One of the many important things I learned from listening to the CEO cold call was what he did when someone tried to shut him off with a hard no. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help and most prospects when asked what about this phone call wasn’t valuable enough to them, will openly tell you. Next time you get a no, try to get constructive feedback from your prospect.
We’d love to reveal a secret formula to go about circumventing gatekeepers altogether, but sadly no such thing exists. We can however highlight a few strategies that will help you reach your target.
Transparency - Gatekeepers are trained in making sure only the most important calls get to whom they’re trying to speak to. That means you have really about 30 seconds to explain why you’re worthy of getting forwarded. Refer to the person you’re trying to reach by their first name, be confident and state the purpose of your call without too much jargon in between.
Be Polite - Gatekeepers know they’re there to make your job more difficult and are often reminded of this by salespeople. If you’re the opposite of this and are warm and welcoming to speak to someone who is just doing their job, they will reciprocate. Even if they don’t put you through, try to remember something from the previous call, even if it’s just their name will go a long way.
When all else fails (and with some gatekeepers it will), try calling after hours or before. Chances are your target will likely work longer hours than the gatekeeper.
Here are a few additional strategies when it comes to dealing with gatekeepers.
According to sales guru turned motivational speaker, Dan Lok in his 27 words to avoid one of the worst things you can say to a prospect/client is “sorry to bother you” or “I know you’re busy”. Once you say this, you’re not giving your company the value it deserves.
You’re calling prospects because you have a solution that will save them either time, money or both. If this is the case, wouldn’t it make sense for them to hear you out?
This used to happen to me before I saw the true value of BPO and proper prospecting. If I know our organization is not a fit for companies with 10-100 employees, I know I’d be wasting time for all parties. But once I garnered the knowledge and hard evidence to show whomever I was calling what we can do for their organization, my confidence on the phone skyrocketed.
I was confident in what I was offering, calling the right people and had learned just enough about them to realize my call was a blessing, even if they didn’t know it yet. So value your time and your prospects eventually will too.
Very few people are great cold callers on the first try so don’t be discouraged if you’re not an overnight sensation. The good thing about modern day sales is that customers are so well informed that you don’t need to learn how to be an aggressive salesperson to be successful. Just be a knowledgeable, polite and confident version of yourself. The plus side to all of this is once you’ve got this down, that work version of yourself will rub off you and if you lack confidence or social skills, this will surely be the solution.