Cold calling. The very sound of that phrase sends even the most seasoned sales pros running out of the room. However, in many industries, cold calling is the lifeblood of the organization because of its effectiveness in connecting with potential clients. Even in an age where e-mail, social networking, and webinars are replacing old school ways of contacting prospects, cold calling remains one of the most effective tools a successful sales person can master.
A 2011 survey, conducted by MarketingSherpa, revealed that 35% of the 935 sales professionals interviewed considered telemarketing, or cold calling, to be the secret to successful conversion from prospect to paying customer. In fact, when sales professionals narrowed down their lists of prospects who had not responded to other forms of digital marketing, after 4 calls these prospects responded favorably by a good old-fashioned telephone conversation. So, it’s clear that cold calling is not a dying art, but merely one that is evolving over time.
In order to make the most of cold calling, the biggest hurdle is learning to overcome interpersonal barriers. Here are some of the most common obstacles you may have faced, with some tips to make cold calling more effective, and less frustrating.
Hostility – one of the worst experiences when conducting cold calls is the hostile attitude or downright nastiness of people on the phone. This is caused by a variety of reasons. Telemarketers have long been considered with disdain by the general public because they are trying to sell something. Your approach when cold calling is to make it clear from the beginning you are not interested in a sale, but in connecting with the prospect in order to meet his or her needs. In other words, state this upfront and then introduce your company, your services, and a “how can my company help you reach your goals this year?” statement.
Dead Leads – Cold calling today is not really traditional cold calling in the sense you are running down a random list of numbers. Most companies today generate a list of contacts either through other marketing efforts or buy contacts from a targeted contact directory service. However, this does not mean you will be guaranteed to get fresh leads or those people that have a genuine interest in what you may be selling. To get around dead leads, make sure to run your list through the client management system or Salesforce first to see who has been called. More than 6 attempts, and you may be dealing with a call blocking situation, so toss those numbers and focus on the better prospects.
Voicemails – One of the most annoying features of using cold calling to find new clients is the invention of the answering machine. However, voicemails can also be the ticket to your success if you know how to leave effective messages. Be sure to speak clearly into the answering machine, leaving an intriguing message and ending with a request for the listener to ”call you directly at your extension to speak personally with you in the next 24 hours”. That sets the stage for excitement in the listener, and essentially you will have already developed a personal relationship with the prospect.
Budget Objections – The most often encountered issue with cold calling is after the delivery of the offer, the listener simply says “we can’t afford it.” The best course of action to stop objections like this is to have a series of offers at different price points, with the option to try before buying. Most people will not turn down something for “free” or no risk, so know what you can offer and be ready to put this on the table – as a way to further enforce the “no selling” rule of cold calling.
Still struggling with how to be great at cold calling? Consider the advantages of attending a Dale Carnegie course on How to Cold Call and Build New Customers to learn more tips for success – and earn more business this year.
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