Cold calling can be daunting at the best of times. Making unsolicited phone calls, not knowing how they’ll be received, and the feeling of rejection can be frustrating. However, it’s part of the process if you want to keep on top of your sales game and meet your targets. In this article, we will provide you with tips and best practices based on our experience and from speaking with the pros.
But first, let’s look at how cold calling works.
The Cold Calling Process
Know Your Client Profile
The first step to cold calling is knowing your target market. In this phase, ask yourself which industry you want to target as well as who within it. Identify particular companies and businesses. Know the job titles of the decision makers relevant to what you’re offering. You can also decide on which locations to target, whether businesses from your hometown, state, or elsewhere in the country.
Finding your leads can be easy. You can look for lists of people on company websites, industry directories, and memberships of trade associations all of which can be good resources for finding the contact information of the decision maker you want to reach out to.
Before you make the call, you should create a targeted, straightforward script. Include a list of questions to know more about the person you are talking to and be able to create a personalized conversation during the call. Plus, anticipate common questions and have ready-to-go answers for each. Finally, know how to introduce yourself and what to say if your call goes to voicemail.
Make the Call and Follow-Up
Being prepared before you make the call will help to ease your nerves and let you approach it as more of a conversation than a pitch. Generally, your leads will fall into one of two categories:
- For leads who said “no” or that went to voicemail, add them to your follow-up system. You can make a follow-up phone call, send an email, or arrange for another form of contact.
- For leads you have scheduled an appointment with, don’t forget to follow-up with a reminder of the meeting details a few days before it.
Now that we have a better understanding of the cold calling process, let’s look at some tips on how you can maximize the effectiveness of your calls.
Cold Calling Tips for Success
1. Practice your Script
Practicing your script is a must if you want to have a smooth, well-directed conversation with your leads. Actors rehearse their script over and over again to ensure they execute it perfectly — your script should be no different. Try rehearsing various cold calling scenarios with people close to you to avoid misspeaking during the actual call.
2. Practice Due Diligence
Always do your homework. Research more about the specific lead you will call to make more personalized messages that potentially solve their pain points. Gain insight on what is lacking in a particular business so you can target their need for a solution.
3. Separate Personal and Business Lines
It’s best to keep your personal and business lines separate. You wouldn’t want to answer a call from a potential lead too casually who are calling you on your personal phone for business matters. Plus, you can set a schedule for your business line as opposed to a 24/7 line for your personal phone.
4. Call at the Right Time
Calling at the wrong time of day can lead to unanswered phone calls and a waste of time and effort on your part. According to the Art of Cold Calling, the best time to make your cold calls is between 8:00am and 9:00am and 4:00pm and 5:00pm in your prospect’s time zone.
5. Answer the Question: “What’s in it for Me?”
How does your product or service solve your lead’s problems? Always focus on the benefits, not just the features. For example, if you are offering graphic design services, don’t focus on the high-resolution feature of your images. Instead, talk about how this high-resolution feature can enhance the reputation and conversion rate of that specific person’s marketing platform.
6. Be Straightforward
When you make cold calls, you are interrupting your prospect’s workday. Therefore, it’s best to be respectful of their time and get straight to your point. Keep your call quick to avoid lingering on unnecessary details.
7. Be Conversational
You might have practiced your script, but you don’t want to sound too scripted. Keep the call conversational, as if you were talking to an old friend (but keep it professional!). Don’t repeat your script word for word — keep the conversation on-track, but don’t sound like you’re reading off of a script throughout it.
8. Focus: Never Multitask
When making cold calls, never multitask. Other than writing important details in your notebook, make sure the prospect feels like they have your full attention.
9. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions
Asking questions is a great way to qualify if your lead is interested in your offer or not. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to provide your prospects with a customized offer that solves their particular problem or need.
10. Talk Less, Listen More
You might be inclined to talk more about your offer and dominate the conversation. But asking questions and actually listening to your prospect’s answers is a way to learn more about their needs and wants. When you listen, you can gain insight into their problems and you can provide actual solutions that will benefit them. Listening can also help you ask relevant questions that can lead the entire conversation into the actual objective of the cold calling process — booking an appointment.
11. Provide Social Proof
You can highlight your track record when talking to your lead. Tell your prospect how long you have been in business and provide proof or testimonials from other customers. Plus, you can also leverage stories of past successes with past clients. Providing proof is a great way to enhance your perceived reputation and increases the chances of your getting an appointment.
12. Leverage Your Network
When you take advantage of connections within your network, such as trade groups, memberships, alumni groups, and even common friends, you are more likely to warm up your cold prospects. Having something in common and talking about the other person’s interests, such as a sports team or an association they’re passionate about is one way to form great relationships and possibly a business deal.
13. Schedule an Appointment
Your first call is not when you close the deal. Don’t forget to ask for a specific time and day for an appointment. For example, you could ask “Would you be okay to meet up next Thursday at 12 noon?” If you have had a great conversation with a prospect, don’t lose the opportunity to book an appointment.
14. Don’t Take it Personally
Rejection is common in cold calling, so don’t take “no” personally. If one prospect rejects you, simply move onto the next call. Remember that this is a numbers game — the more people you call, the better your chances of gaining a client.
15. Practice Persistence
Above all, you should practice persistence. The more leads you call, the better your chances of making an appointment. Set a goal for yourself for how many calls to make in a day, then continually increase your goal as you improve your process. Persistence is key to any endeavor.
The Bottom Line
Cold calling can be a tedious, frustrating process you wouldn’t want to deal with. However, it’s one great way to gain clients and reach your freelance goals. Practice these tips to optimize your calls and gain more clients and even referrals.
Photos by rawpixel.com on Unsplash
About the Author:
Evan Tarver is a small business and investments writer for Fit Small Business, fiction author, and screenwriter with experience in finance and technology. When he isn’t busy scheming his next business idea, you’ll find Evan holed up in a coffee shop working on the next great American fiction story. Get in touch …
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