10 Ways to Develop Your Cold Calling Techniques
“It's not what you know it's who you know” is an oft-used adage in the business world. Whether you own a business or are looking for a job, chances are you're going to have to rely on more than just preexisting networks to be successful. Of the numerous ways to put yourself out there, cold calling is considered one of the most severe – a sort of necessary evil. While cold calling will probably never have a comparable success/failure rate to nepotism, it is a vital skill to practice in competitive business.
- Make the call. The time you spend psyching yourself up could mean an extra call or two each day. While you can't expect every call to work, each additional call you make is another chance for success.
- Immediately create a context for the call. You should quickly establish who you are, how you arrived at your contact, and what you bring to the table. The better you can hone the call to the specific customer, the more likely you are to elicit a positive response. If you treat your contact as just another person on your list, chances are they'll treat you like just another spam caller.
- Be careful with scripts. While a script can provide good guidelines for a call and advise employees you bring on to make cold calls on what to say, they are not a substitute for understanding your product inside and out and being able to communicate effectively with a potential customer. Too often scripts can create a tone that you're trying to convince a customer to purchase something they don't want, which creates a bad mentality for sale in both parties.
- Build trust by being natural in your phrasing and tone. In a high-trust relationship ideas and intentions can be communicated even without perfect word choice, whereas in a low-trust relationship communication can be misunderstood even with the most precise wording. Someone who feels like they're being cornered by a salesman will be less receptive to a product or service that is otherwise desirable. Conversely, if your tone communicates that you genuinely believe your product is helpful and that a sale is a win-win situation, the customer can pick up on this.
- Learn from failure. What happens in a call that doesn't result in a sale? Does the other party show interest? You can get a good gauge on the quality of your product by realizing how different consumers respond to aspects of your product. If there are certain features that never seem to be a selling point, perhaps they are not necessary to pursue in the future development of your product. Feedback will also give context when calling back in the future; you can tell the customer that you took into consideration their feedback and improved your product. Don't throw away a missed opportunity. Each time you make a call is practice for the future. Keep in mind what resonates with customers. Think of how the more times you tell a story or explain your job position, you eventually fall back on key phrases and analogies and statistics that get your basic idea across more effectively. More experience allows you to go beyond the initial pitch as your learn how to best answer questions and concerns that arise over the course of your cold-call conversations. Don't feel pressured to rattle off everything you think is important for the customer to know. Let them speak and ask their own questions. Chances are if they are interested in the product they are not trying to get off the phone as soon as possible. Let the conversation flow at a normal rate.
- Be professional, but let your emotion show through. If the other party is showing interest in your service, its okay to get enthusiastic and explain more about it. Rather than simply listing all the features or benefits that your company has brainstormed as the most likely things that customers will enjoy, listen to how the customer responds to your descriptions and go with the flow of conversation. Remember – if you have a worthwhile product, there should be no hesitation in communicating it to the customer. It should be as easy as telling a friend about a cool new website you found or how the cafe down the street has half-price sandwiches on Tuesdays.
- Don't get discouraged. Keep calling. 100% of the people you never contact will not buy your product. It's important to consistently be selling and reaching out to new people and organizations that could utilize your product. Even if you don't make a sale in many cases you will be directed to a more relevant individual or gain vital feedback on the pros and cons of your product. Each successful call is a boost to confidence.
- Practice your voice mails. A substantial number of your calls will not be picked up by the person your trying to reach – either they are out of the office, too busy to take a call, or simply don't want to take a call from an unknown number. In this case its important to prepare what you will say in a voice message. Just like in calling normally, you can keep track of which voice mails are more likely to get calls back than others.
- Set the stage to follow up. Even if a customer is interested, that doesn't mean that they'll remember to or take the initiative to procure your services on their own. Offer to get in touch with them again in person, through email, or over the phone. Even if they are not interested, see if it's just not a priority right now and ask if you can call again in six months or so.
- Don't force jokes. The only ice you'll break is the thin ice keeping them on the line.