The always hot topic in sales recently is that “Cold calling is DEAD”. But I disagree – emphatically. Cold calling is not DEAD. What’s dead is the method or practice of how to approach it. By thinking carefully about your approach and preparing well, you can turn cold calling into a valuable tool. You might still hear a “no” far more often than a “yes” – but, if you handle things properly, the opportunities for closing big deals are there. This is especially true if you make use of social media to research your prospect as thoroughly as possible before making the call.
It’s time to rethink cold calling because no matter what other lead generation strategies you use, you have to pick up the phone at some point and call prospects. Because prospects won’t call you until they’re desperate – or they’ve done a ton of research.
So now before you stand a chance of making an effective cold call, you need a well-thought-out approach. Thinking carefully about “when” and “who” can significantly increase your chances of success. You then need to know how to handle and follow up on the call.
1) Plan call time wisely.
Typically, the people you wish to target – those with the power to influence and make decisions – are some of the busiest people within an organization, which means you need to think carefully about the best time to call them. They have too much to do during the day to answer phone calls from unknown numbers – and they’re guarded closely by assistants and less senior team members. If you want to reach these people, the best times to call are early in the morning or during the end of the shift.
Where possible, avoid Mondays – when people are settling into their working week – and Fridays, when they’re winding down for the weekend. By mid-week, your target person will generally have dealt with the week’s most pressing issues and are less likely to perceive your call as a distraction. You also need to think about the right time to call. Senior members of staff tend to arrive earlier in the morning, so call before 9 am to have a better chance of reaching them. You could also aim to call between 5 and 7 pm when people have tied up the day’s work and have more time to chat.
2) Set a schedule.
Once you’ve experimented with the right time to call, set yourself a target number of calls per week, and schedule a window to make them. This will help you get into a rhythm. When your prospect picks up the phone, make sure you first ask, “Is this a good time to call?” If it’s not, schedule a time that is.
3) Target the right person.
Although sales will always be something of a numbers game, you can increase your chances by making sure you’re talking to the right person – that is, someone for whom your solution is relevant and who has the power to make a purchase or to sell your solution within their organization. Bear in mind that while the latter might not always be the ultimate decision-maker within the organization, they might be just as useful and easier to reach (LinkedIn is a good place to determine who these people are). It’s better to spend ten minutes making sure you’re talking to the right person than delivering your pitch to the wrong one.
4) Preparation is key to success in Cold calls.
Sales is not about selling products; rather, it’s about selling solutions to your customers’ problems. This applies just as much to cold calling as to any other type of sales technique. Research your prospect and think about how you can present your product in a way that will appeal to them. You might also want to use a script to keep the conversation concise and on track – if you’re not sure where to begin, simply make a basic outline and tailor it to your needs. Always make sure you have a reason for calling and a vision for your prospect’s business; for example, you might choose or tailor a pre-existing offer.
5) Follow up and be persistent.
Sales is a patience game. As a salesperson, you’ll know that most sales don’t happen after the first, second or even third call. Be (politely) persistent and follow up – you’d be surprised how many people don’t. You might not always get the in-depth meeting you were hoping for, but you should at least aim to secure a referral (and when you contact them, you’ll have the kind of credibility that money can’t buy).
6) Not succeeding even after putting all efforts? Be aware of where you could be going wrong.
The nature of cold calling means that even the most skilled salesperson is never going to have a 100% success rate – but if you find yourself having a streak of “bad luck”, look closer and make sure there’s nothing you could be doing better improve. This guide to common cold calling mistakes should help you identify potential pitfalls!
7) Track your progress with data.
Metrics are as key for cold calls as for any other area of sales – monitor your cold calling conversion funnel to see how you’re doing.
“Cold calling is tricky, but knowing the tricks makes it worthwhile..”
It’s little wonder that many sales professionals dread the thought of making cold calls – after all, you’re delaying someone else’s day in order to get something you need. Yet, as with almost all other prospecting techniques, the execution makes all the difference between rejection and success.
Experts” and so-called “Gurus” have declared that cold calling is dead. With as much negative press as cold calling has gotten, it’s hard to stay faithful. Leaders of emerging industries have been calling for an end to the cold call for years – everyone from social sellers to inbound marketers.
And for the record, cold calling is NOT DEAD.
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