What is the big deal about cold calling?
Imagine you are sat at your desk with your phone in front of you. You have worked out that you need to get in front of some decision makers to drum up more sales. Your target is starting to look a little unachievable and you haven’t got time to wait for your prospects to respond to a sales email. There is nothing else for it, but to pick up the phone and cold call some prospects.
Cold calling………scary stuff!
Your palms start sweating, a frog has suddenly appeared in your throat and completing that urgent paperwork also seems a lot more appealing. In fact phoning the dentist to get that painful tooth extraction has never been a better option.
Yeah I know….
Cold calling sucks!
Picking up the phone and calling someone cold can appear a really scary way to sell. The reason it feels scary is simple. You fear being rejected.
It’s natural to feel nervous of speaking to someone you have never spoken to before, but being scared of cold calling is a really big waste of your time. Trust me, I have several t-shirts to prove this!
The major problem with a cold call is that it is a cold contact. What I mean by cold is that the person you are calling is not expecting your call. They may or most likely not know you, but they are definitely not expecting a call. It is always a lot easier to call someone we know.
By definition a warm call to prospect is one that they are expecting. For example if you have submitted a proposal, then the call to find out what they think would be a warm call as the prospect is half expecting it.
The thing is that when most people experience a cold call themselves, they are not done very well. This is what prevents them from making a cold call to a potential new customer.
Example of really bad cold calling
As a UK business we seem to get a lot of cold calls from telesales agencies trying to sell us their client’s products. The most popular service that they like to try selling us is PAT Testing, which is a good case in point.
PAT stands for Portable Appliance Testing. The service provided is to check if the appliance is sound electrically. There are legalities in the UK that require portable electrical appliances to be maintained in a safe condition, thus preventing accidents such as fires from occurring.
Some PAT providers use cold calling companies to contact businesses to try and sell them the service. As I am the main contact for our businesses, I am the one who generally speaks to the sales people. The conversation goes like this.
Me : “Good afternoon. Susan Marot speaking how may I help you?”
Cold Caller : “Hi, am I speaking to the person responsible for Health and Safety?”
Me : “Yes” (Well actually it is both my husband and I, but he wouldn’t really thank me for putting the call through to him)
Cold Caller : “When was the last time your portable appliances were checked?”
Me : “I’m not sure. Why?”
Cold Caller : “Oh that is not good. Are you seated at your desk?”
Me : “Yes. Why?”
Cold Caller : ” Great. Well what I want you to do is go under your desk and see if there is a little sticker on the plug of your computer.”
Me : “Why?”
Cold Caller : “Well it is really important that your portable appliances like your computer have been PAT Tested in the last year and we need to check if yours have.”
Me : “Why?”
Cold Caller : “There is legal legislation that all portable appliances must be tested regularly. As professional PAT testers we highly recommend that they are done on an annual basis. Just look at the plug on your computer and tell me what the date is on the sticker.”
Me : “No I won’t.”
Cold Caller : “Why? It is a legal requirement and could prevent a serious accident like a fire from occurring.”
Me : “I won’t do it because it is not legal requirement to have it checked by a professional, or even on an annual basis. It is only a legal requirement to have a process in place that means that a companies portable appliances should be checked. In our business my husband does that.”
Cold Caller : “Well your husband is not a professional PAT tester as we can see that you are a business consultancy. You are putting yourself and your business at risk.”
Me : “Legally, we only need a process in place which in our case is an internal risk assessment. My husband is a fully qualified electrical engineer and has 33 years as a Fire Officer. We believe that this more than adequately meets the standard required by UK legal requirements.”
BANG and surprise surprise the line goes dead!
Unfortunately this is the reason why a lot of people don’t like to make cold calls because they think that this is typical cold call behaviour. Yes this is typical cold call behaviour, but it is not the right way to make cold call. This is the pushy approach to selling that I certainly do not advocate.
In this example the cold caller did not do anything to establish if I had a need for PAT services or if I had the time to discuss it. More by accident than by design the cold caller was speaking to the decision maker, but they did not show any respect for my position and the way my husband and I run our business.
7 Cold Calling Techniques that are not pushy
Done well then cold calling is one of THE most successful ways to get in front of the MAN (the person with the Money, Authority and Need). Use the following to make every cold call count, but without coming across as a pushy sales person.
Research the prospect – A quick look at a prospects website or social media pages, will reveal a lot of information to help you to qualify them. Doing this will also give you a few juicy titbits to help the rapport building process too.
Have an objective – Make sure you are clear about the objective for the call. Do you want to find out information, or do you want to make an appointment.
Prepare a script – When you get nervous it its easy to forget what you need to say. You don’t need to say every single word as it is written, which will sound a bit false. Just use it as a guide to remind you.
Ask for permission – Decision makers are usually busy people. Before you get into conversation simply ask if this is s good time to speak to them. If not, then ask when it would be.
Share your objective – If you are trying to find out information then ask for help in doing so. No one in their sane mind will refuse to help someone.
Keep it short – Your prospect was thinking about something completely different before they picked up the phone to you. Keep it short so they can easily take on board what you are saying.
Ask to follow up – Always end the call by asking them how you can follow up on that conversation. By asking you might actually get an answer that delivers more value than you were anticipating.
Preparing to sell is the first step of the sales process with the introduction phase following it. Therefore it makes total sense to prepare really effectively before you pick up the phone to cold call someone.
If you need to cold call your customers to generates leads then you might also enjoy this free sales training. The 3 Day Sales Challenge is designed to help you uncover a lot more sales opportunities, in just 3 days!
Useful tips Susan, have to say i’m not a fan of cold calling but have started to get better
I’m pleased I am starting to convert you Mike. One of my clients just closed one deal worth £360K after cold calling a prospect she had had not prior relationship with. On the back of the cold call she got a meeting and 10 weeks later she has smashed her annual target with one order!
Cold calling works, but like many things there is a right way and a wrong way.
Greetings! Very helpful advice in this particular article! It’s the little changes that produce the largest changes. Thanks a lot for sharing!
Thank you very much for your kind words!