“I LOVE PICKING UP THE PHONE AND MAKING COLD CALLS!” Your first reaction to someone saying this to you might be, “What asylum did they just escape from?”. After a little bit of thought, your second reaction should probably be, “how do I get this person on my payroll?” Many salespeople can grow their business through referrals, but that can’t be the only way to grow their client list. At some point in time they have to pick up that telephone and make the dreaded cold call.
Some say that it takes a special type of salesperson to sit down at a desk and make cold calls- wrong! While it’s not the norm for an outside sales rep to be able to sit down in a chair for an entire day, most of their skills in the field should easily translate over the phone. Your fear of rejection(or the worst case…a hang up!) should be incredibly easy to get over. Every salesperson has sat across the desk from a prospect at one point or another and realized that the meeting is going downhill. You’re going to run into the same thing on the phone, but you know what’s great about that? It’s very easy to end a phone call. Try awkwardly crawling your way out of someone’s office next time you feel a meeting spiraling out of control. To that point, when you’re sitting across the desk from people you have the opportunity read their facial expressions, body language, and the tone of their voice. You’re obviously losing the first two of those when making calls, but just as they are one of your greatest strengths in front of the prospect, your ears should be one your greatest strengths in judging how any conversation is going on the phone.
There are four key parts to any cold call: getting by the gatekeeper, the pitch, overcoming objections and the closing. Let’s take care of the first and last parts right away. JUST ASK! Just ask for the decision maker’s name, and just ask for a date and time for you to meet with the prospect you are targeting. The gatekeeper’s job isn’t to stonewall you and let you not reach the decision maker, so simply ask for their name or the department that they work in. If you get one of those tough administrators who loves nothing more than to break the spirits of those pesky sales people, move on and find a different approach to connect with your target. Your closing should be short and sweet. Nothing fancy and no used car hard closes. A simple “when do you have some free time on your schedule over the next few weeks?”. It’s assumptive, it puts the control in their hands for a second, and shows that you’re being conscientious of their time. So in review- just ask, just ask, just ask, just ask.
The pitch and overcoming objections will take a little bit more finesse. Your pitch and value proposition statement should again be short and sweet, but they should always state WHY they should meet with you and WHY doing business with you is essential. That statement will encompass “what” you do prior to them asking “so what exactly do you do?”. You should feel comfortable with your pitch before you think about picking up the phone. Having a key line or phrase handy on your desk isn’t a bad idea, but having the entire pitch typed up and ready to read will have you running the risk of actually reading it and sounding like someone who calls you during dinner trying to get an appointment to sweep your chimney.
Practice your pitch and your replies to objections so they roll fluidly off the tip of your tongue. When you pick up the phone for the first time, you want to be just as prepared and feel as confident as you are when you walk into your first meeting with your biggest prospect. You would be overly prepared for that first meeting, right? Then you should have yourself just as prepared to pick up the phone and secure that first meeting.
Best of luck on the phones!