Special thanks to Gabriel Peralta, one of the newest members of our Sales Team @ Wpromote, for putting together this awesome and informative blog on cold-calling. Go, Gabriel!
One thing that most people have in common is the fear of rejection. When it comes to business, the rejection relates to one’s reputation and sense of embarrassment when making a call to someone you have not spoken with before. Cold calling is a necessary resource for the development of new business especially in the face of a slow economy. Here are tips to help you before, during, and after you pick up the phone.
- Identify who the decision maker is
Turn on the heat before making a cold call. Preparation is key. If you plan on making the most out of every call, you need to know who the influencers and decision makers are at the company you are calling. The less time you have to spend speaking to a gatekeeper like a receptionist or assistant, the better. The Internet is the best way to get the fire burning and learn more about your prospective target. I have had good luck with sending out emails to email addresses I find online and asking for a referral to the person in charge of making the buying decision. Not everyone will say yes, but remember: if you don’t ask, you don’t get.
- Qualify your prospect to open the door
Let’ say your hunter/gatherer efforts paid off. You got the referral to the decision maker and were able to get them on the phone to discuss your service. This is the point where most of us cold callers get so excited that we got an open ear, we cast a well-rehearsed line of hooks and bait to see what gets our prospect interested. What you should really do at this point is slow down. Realize the person you are talking to is a unique individual with unique problems. Be forthright about what you do and how you may be able to help them, but once you have their attention, it is critical to ask open-ended questions. Don’t let yourself get discouraged if your prospect throws objections at you during this part of your conversation. Give them a precise answer followed by yet another open question. Once you have learned more about your prospect and they have learned more about your service, move in with a trial close. Doing so can be as simple as asking, “Now that you’ve learned a bit about our service, what are your thoughts so far?” Listen carefully to what comes after as this is the perfect opportunity for you to take notes and position yourself for the next step: a second call or appointment to discuss your proposal and close the deal.
- Do your homework – formulate targeted questions
Now that you know who your future client is, learn about their business. Learn as much as you can about your prospect’s competition, accolades, testimonials, and market trends. Find out how your prospect is doing in relation to their competition and look for ways to help them improve. Then, once you are on the phone, ask questions that demonstrate your knowledge and pique their interest. If you have a tool like Cogi at your disposal, you can record and study your calls to learn from your prospects’ answers and pinpoint strengths and weaknesses in your pitch.
- Ask for the business
Once you have the decision maker on the phone, and have been given a chance to explain your proposal, ask for the business. At this point you have likely built up the rapport needed to speak with confidence and close the sale. Keep this in mind as the moment to close approaches. If the prospect has taken the time to listen to your extended pitch, there is a good chance they are interested in your product, and it is your job to guide them through the sale. Move forward with closing questions like “At this point, with everything we have discussed so far, do you think our service is a good match for your business?” and don’t say a word until they answer your question. Avoid the temptation to answer for them or distract them while they think it through. For all you know, they may just say, ” Sign me up!” Give them the chance. If they are interested but have objections, it is your job to overcome them. Remember that you started this from nothing. The business will not simply fall into your lap because your prospect has heard you talk about the company and has read your pricing sheet. You have to be ready and willing to work through a prospect’s every objection and keep asking for the business. When you bring on a client who started as nothing more than a phone number and a web address, it’s a good feeling. Every client I sign that way gives me the energy to keep pushing harder.
For more tips on prospecting, check out these how-to guides from Inc.com.