Updated: Jan 5
There have been many articles written saying that Cold Calling is Dead and that is just not the case. As someone who has years in Marketing too numerous to admit I am a big believer in other forms of lead generation in order to build your sales, but one cannot leave the old tried and true standby of cold calling. Not unlike the majority of small business owners, I hate to cold call. I was made to do it throughout my life and at times the thought use to give me hives. It had nothing to do with not liking to talk on the phone as I have never been accused of being lost for words or being afraid of the phone. It is all about having the right opening and catching that person's attention in the first 15 seconds.
I do not know how many articles I have read by marketing proponents saying traditional selling is dead and it is all about Social Media. I believe Social Media can help build awareness, credibility, and build connections, but I have not been able to attach a revenue figure to what I have made from utilizing social media. Others talk about email marketing, which can be useful, but is one medium that I have come to hate. For some reason, those that seem to be business card collectors love this medium. We all know them. You meet them at a networking event, they want your business card and the next thing they have determined whether you are a fit for their product or not that it is ok to add you to their "spam" Newsletter blast that goes out every week or so. I don't know about you - but delete or unsubscribe are the first things I usually do for most. Though there are laws outlining the use of SPAM, this has not seemed to dissuade too many small business owners who think they are below the Government radar and will not get caught. In Canada, you need to actually have "permission" to email.
Cold calling does work if done correctly. I will be the first one to admit, if someone calls without their monotone " I am reading a script voice", and engages me in the first 15-20 seconds, I will continue to listen to what they are selling. I find those that call about business related products or services usually have an easier time gaining my attention than the guy wanting to kill my weeds or try to convince me more than the guy calling last week with the same script that I really do need to read the Toronto Sun.
Most people will not make a snap business decision to purchase something over the phone unless they are ready to buy, so the goal you should have in mind is to get an appointment with the prospect. Here are some tips to keep in mind to increase your chances of getting the appointment. The focus of this will be on B2B since most B2C cold calling is out due to the Do Not Call List in Canada.
Work on developing a targeted list to call. Do not just open the Yellow Pages and start calling. You should understand the type of customer who is most likely to require your product or service. This would include information such as: industry, size of company, geographic region. Make sure you either have the name of the economic buyer or ask for the person who makes decisions regarding your type of product or service.Look at buying a list from a reputable broker if you do not have one.
Create a script that is short and to the point and within the first 15-20 second engages the person called so that there is almost an immediate decision of whether they are a fit for your product or service. Memorize and be comfortable with the script, do not read it, as the caller can tell and is one way to get most people to hang up the phone, as they think you are a call centre.
Have backup material available to handle objections as you will most likely get them. You need to be prepared ahead of time and not get caught off guard.
Having a call to action will increase your chances with the person being called. A call to action could be a discount, an event, a draw, or a white paper. What you offer depends very much on your business.
Have your schedule available and know when you can book an appointment. You have the person on the phone, do not tell them you will get back to them. You made the call to get an appointment, so be prepared.
If they tell you they are not interested, determine if that means never or just not now. If it is just not now, ask a time frame of when they will be looking at making a decision. Capture that time frame and confirm that you have all of their information and that it is correct. You might ask if you can send them some information in the mean time and then be sure to follow-up when they will be making a buying decision.
If you know they are not interested, be polite and thank them for their time. You never know when you might encounter this person again.
If they are willing to make an appointment with you, then be sure to capture all of the relevant information about the client: name, title, address, phone, email, notes about the call, and the time and date of the appointment.
If the appointment is more than a couple days from now, either send them an email or call them to confirm the appointment, especially if you are meeting them somewhere outside their business.
If you know cold calling will work for your business, but there is a lack of time or skill to do this in your business, this service can be outsourced easily and can be very cost effective. Do not do this on the cheap thinking you can get anyone to cold call. Who you hire is representing your business and if they make a bad impression, this is what the client remembers. Look for a firm that has a guarantee on leads or appointments. Do not just pay for someone to call and charge for the time they are dialling for dollars. Do not hire and pay for those that base this on an outrageous telco rate. They should have Voice over IP and should not be charging like call centres did in the dark ages. Check their references as well. You want to make sure that if you make one or two sales, that you have covered the cost of the service.
Once you have an appointment with someone and they are qualified - your sales close ratio should be fairly high. It is about getting an appointment and is something that can be measured. It is true Social Media is free and it is easy to send out a email Newsletter blast, but before you spend all of your time doing that trying to figure out impressions, clicks, and conversion rates - don't give up on cold calling, because it is not dead yet and can be measured.