Every now and then, a certain question pops up.
“Paul, I know your training on cold calling covers a lot of ground. Break it down for me, will ya? What are your top tips?”
Wow. This is like asking a football team to pick its “best” plays from a 5-inch-thick playbook. So much depends on circumstances, and timing … and, frankly, how well you know the playbook.
Cold calling is both art and science. Preparation is huge. Practice helps. And, once you overcome initial reluctance and fear, it gets a LOT easier.
Some overriding principles apply every time you pick up the phone. Work to pique curiosity. Don’t go overboard with detail. Abandon the idea of “creating rapport” (this person doesn’t know you from Adam). Aim for an appointment, not a sale.
Granted, these are all pretty general. We know that no two cold calls are the same. You might encounter a different scenario at every dial. Opportunity is always there … if you can spot, nurture and embrace it.
So, please consider this my holiday gift to you: a “Top 5” Cold Calling Tips list.
1) Ignore the conventional wisdom: Lots of sales trainers (and even some writers) tout a “cold calling is dead” mantra. Uh, sure. Their magic formulas will fill your sales quota … until they don’t. A smart salesperson keeps all their options open. Done properly, cold calling is still an effective weapon in the sales arsenal. It shouldn’t be the only one (a claim I’ve never made) – yet, abandoning cold calling is equal to unilateral disarmament. Granted, cold calling is not always easy. So get better.
2) Have a strong script: Smart cold calling starts with a smart script. How long? Oh, say, 25 seconds max. You should know what to say, how to say it, and how long it will take to do so. Structure is critical, with each element leading into the next. You’re not trying to make a new best friend – just set a meeting. When you get voicemail (as you will), have a separate, incentivizing script ready.
3) Nail the introduction: If you enjoy stumbling (and tripping, and falling) out of the gate, start your cold call with these three deadly words. Failure will not be an option. It will be a certainty. Your call should start with an introduction that doesn’t scream “salesperson.”
4) (Smartly) engage the gatekeeper: Did “gatekeeper” just send a chill down your spine? Countless cold calls have died at the desk of this entity which, to listen to some salespeople, has near-mythical powers. Little surprise at failing, either, if you try to go around, push aside, or just ignore the gatekeeper. They can wield a lot of clout. The better approach is to engage them. Don’t be overly chummy. Just treat them as a real person, with real concerns and self-interests. You can turn them into an advocate who will advance your cause. It’s all in the approach.
5) Voicemail – to leave, or not?: In one word: yes. Keep it brief. Go light on details. Don’t sound like a professional automaton, either – inject some personality, and infer that this is a call that absolutely, positively should be returned. It’s easier than you think.
Things are getting colder (literally) as we commence the New Year. We can’t do anything about the weather, though. We can, however, work to ensure that 2018 is our hottest sales year yet.
Sales isn’t an easy profession. It’s easy to question yourself. So, when moments of doubt creep in, ask questions of others. Learn from their experiences. It’s how we get better.
In that vein, I hope these tips help and inspire you. Have a blessed and successful new year!