With the surge of social media in the last 20 years, we have seen a significant shift in the way we communicate with customers. and promote our products and services. Technology has certainly revolutionised how we do business. To remain competitive, we need to embrace these new changes and adopt them in our business.
Still, we must remember that 'people buy from people' and building relationships is the foundation of sales. So, we need to talk to our customers and prospects too.
And whilst there are so many ways to communicate with customers and create new leads, I firmly believe cold calling is still one of the most effective ways for selling to the business-to-business (B2B) market. Carried out correctly and in the right circumstances, it’s a proven technique for generating new leads.
There are many reasons why we should cold call. We can focus on a select group of people in a defined target market. We can be strategic about when we call and when we are more likely to get through to the decision maker.
Once we speak to the prospect, we can instantly build rapport, listen and gauge their reaction, so we can respond appropriately. We can lead the conversation and quickly learn about their business using clever questioning skills. This helps us to qualify and even disqualify the lead, so we know where to focus our efforts.
For anyone who wants to give it a go, here are a few points to help you succeed to cold call on the phone:
- Plan and prioritise your list – spend time getting your list right, prioritise who you want to call first
- Get a name beforehand – Know who you want to speak to beforehand and ask for them by name at reception
- Patience and timing – sometimes you may get through to the person instantly. Other times it will take longer. Work out the best time to call, be patient and be flexible with your calling times.
- Do calls in batches – Make calls (and do nothing else) in one-hour slots at a time. This will help keep you focused and motivated when you find it tough. Take a short break after the hour – you don’t want to get tired and make mistakes.
- Do a warm up first – the first call is often the hardest. Like many activities, spend the first 5-10 minutes doing a warm up. Sit up straight, so people can hear a clear and confident voice when you call.
- What to say – Spend time planning what you want to say and how you will say it. Make sure your introduction is not a big sales pitch. Remember these people didn’t call you, so your approach needs to create interest and get them talking.
- Be positive and don’t take it personally – Remember we have chosen to call the prospect, so don’t expect everyone to be interested. They don’t know you, so it’s not personal. Just get on to the next call and keep going.
- It’s a numbers game – every time you pick up the phone, you will likely only speak to a portion of your list. Some people will be interested and others won’t. It’s all down to numbers, so keep going until you get a sale.
- Be persistent, don’t be a pest – be prepared to make several call attempts to get hold of people and numerous follow up calls to get the sale. Get the balance right – be persistent and spread calls out, but don’t be a pest.