Cold Calling 101

The thought of making a cold call terrifies many people.  The prospect of contacting a potential client without prior interaction can be intimidating.  I would bet if you surveyed a dozen sales executives and asked them what they dread the most about their jobs, many would say having to make cold calls.  No one likes the thought of an executive hanging up on them or the verbal abuse given if you’ve reached someone on a bad day.  However, if you pitch your business effectively, these cold calls may turn into some of your best customers.  The last thing you want is to be unprepared when you get that sought-after executive on the phone.  Below are a few tips to help you turn your cold calls into sales.

  1. Narrow your search.  Identify your ideal customers.  Research companies in your targeted geographic area and decide which of those companies could benefit the most from your services.  Utilize LinkedIn to generate leads and make sure you have done your research about the companies. 
  2. Practice makes perfect.  Before you make your first call, create a script and practice it until you feel confident.  Think about how you are going to approach the call, describe what you are calling about, and how you will respond to their rebuttals.  Make sure your pitch is fluid and conversational.  You want to avoid sounding like you are reading directly from the script.
  3. Handling the gatekeepers.  When calling large companies, you will most likely reach a gatekeeper – secretary, associate, or executive assistant – who will screen the call.  Don’t try to immediately bypass that individual.  Rather, take the time to explain your call’s objective and why it is important.  In the end, that person will decide whether your message gets passed through. 
  4. Keep your goals in mind.  In advance, be sure to outline your goals.  Are you looking to sell your product or services while on the call?  Schedule a meeting?  Know what you are looking to accomplish before you make the call.
  5. Rebuttals.  Oftentimes the decision maker at a large company is busy and will try to get you off the phone as quickly as possible.  A common answer might be, “I’m too busy,” or “We already have a vendor.”  If you get this response, politely ask when would be a good time to call back or if they would be willing to give you their email address so you can send them some additional information about your company and services.

Most likely it is going to take a number of calls before you successfully close a sale.  The goal of your first call should not be to complete a sale in one shot, but rather try to establish a relationship and get a meeting on the calendar.  Be persistent and success will come.