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Taking the cold out of cold calling

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The better you start the call, the quicker you’ll establish their interest - and the more relaxed you'll be.


Despite the content marketing philosophy of creating incoming sales enquiries, there’s nothing quite as direct (and sometimes instantly successful) as picking up the phone. Of course there will be rejections along the way but, the more confident you feel about it - the more likely you are to quickly build rapport. And from rapport comes sales.

There is no doubt that prospecting for new clients can be pretty intimidating, especially if you’ve never done it before. If you are running a new business built on your technical skill sets, it is quite possible that sales isn’t one of them. You could have a really innovative product or service but, a reluctance to introduce yourself to new clients could mean it never gets off the ground.

This article assumes that you know who to speak to and (having bypassed the gatekeeper) your prospect is just about to answer your call. 

These tips are all about making good first impressions and starting your calls with confidence. 

Think first - why would they want to speak to you?

Before you dial, think why they would want to speak to you and make sure your message is immediately relevant to the person you are speaking to. You have about 15 seconds to say who you are and position why you are calling before you have to stop and see if they are interested. You’ll also need to pause for breath! 

All you are trying to get across in the first few seconds is “I/we have something that might be able to help you, and I simply need to learn more about you."

So, don’t just say what you do, very quickly say why you think it might be relevant to them. 

Consider what you offer that will solve the issue or problem you suspect they have. 

A tip to quickly establish credibility

In my experience, mentioning that you’ve worked with other businesses in their sector is usually a good way to quickly establish credibility. It also suggests you might know something about their competitors that they don’t.

It’s also wise to talk about ideas to share and results you’ve had at the beginning of the call, not about products and services. People become curious about ideas and like results, they resist the mention of products and services because they feel they're about to hear a sales pitch.

Please don’t. Use a. Script.

On the phone all you have is your voice - that’s why it has to sound as natural and flowing as possible. A script won’t help and it’ll sound wooden to your caller who won’t feel like they are in any way special. 

We’ve all had those calls where you can almost hear the page turning. It might be acceptable when you are being read the terms and conditions of your car insurance. It’s not on when you are trying to build rapport with the MD of a business.

Although I don’t advocate reading from a script, I do recommend having a few bullet points of key things you’d like to cover - perhaps even as a call mind-map. Calls can go in several directions and it’s good to have a few ‘prompts’ to help you remember the main points. Even if you sound a little disorganised, as long as you remember a relevant point that’s fine. It’s the quality of what you are trying to get across that matters most.

Take the temperature early

Remember I said to pause for breath? It sometimes pays to ask if what you offer is something they might be interested in, or not? It’s a good way to take the temperature of the call and give them a chance to respond.

If the answer is no, that’s fine. At least you have found out quickly and you can bow out early and concentrate on the next call. 

A final thought

When calls go well you have established a relationship and will be far and away ahead of those that haven’t. Congratulations! And, all it took was a little courage and some preparation.

Please remember - telephone confidence takes time. But what’s the worse that can happen - a few nerves, the occasional rejection? It’s a small price to pay along the way to getting your business and all you have planned for it up and running.

Need my help?

During my earlier time as a Business Development Manager I’ve used the phone to great effect. I don’t offer outsourced telemarketing - but I’m very happy to run a session looking at your business and how you might use the phone as part of your sales and marketing operation.

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