Do you use the phone to sell, make appointments or follow up with existing clients?
If so, you are cold calling. Even if you are calling an existing client to talk about a new service that you know will help them, it is a cold call. You are interrupting them and there is a good chance they aren’t in the mood to be interrupted.
The good news is, cold calling can be very effective if done right. It can also be the worst job in the world if you keep getting it wrong.
The problem is, so many people who use the phone to sell are terrible at cold calling! We have all experienced it, so we know a bad sales pitch when we hear one. As salespeople, we should probably be a little more sympathetic when we ourselves are called by a fellow professional. However, we too usually try and get rid of that poor individual as quickly as possible.
So, how do you do cold calling properly?
The answer is to avoid any and all of these methods for being bad at cold calling. If you know that you have a tendency to act this way on the phone, its time to stop and fix it.
1. Not Being Ready
This is the worst. I pick up the phone to you only to be greeted with rustling of paper, deep breathing and a conversation you are having with a colleague. Be ready for the call. Get into the right frame of mind. Have a drink in advance of the call, not just as the person is picking up. Every lead you have is a potential sale and if you aren’t prepared for the call, don’t even pick up the phone!
2. Mr / Little Miss Generic
Do you sound the same as everyone else? Do you use the same lines, the same empty promises as everyone else calling me to sell the same thing? If so, chances are good that I am going to go through a tunnel very soon and cut you off. How can you make yourself remarkable in some way? Seth Godin talks about Purple Cows as this would make you stand up and pay attention. Why should someone pay attention to you?
3. Super Scripted
I think sales scripts have their place, and that is in the paper recycling bin in your office. Too many sales people read from a script which is generic, boring and doesn’t ask a question until page three. If you want to audition with a monologue then please do not call me. If you want to have a conversation with me to find out what I want and potentially sell me something, put the script down and lets talk. It is fine to have a few lines prepared for a clear introduction, but after that, get into a proper two-way conversation.
4. No Energy
Do you really hate your job that much as to not want to be there? If so, please call a helpline or something rather than calling a potential customer. How many sales people do you hear just going through the motions? It infuriates me that you think I should be interested in what you have to say when you aren’t even interested! Instead, go for a walk, do some jumping jacks and then come back to the phone before you make the call. If you still aren’t excited about the call, maybe just go and have a chat with HR and save them the inevitable conclusion.
5. Not Getting To The Point
The other day, someone called me offering me a unique, government backed investment opportunity for my technology business that would be better than my existing supplier and cheaper than anything I had used before. This sounded great, so I asked him to tell me what he was saying. The same words as above were re-arranged and reiterated. So I asked again what he was selling. He got frustrated and we both put the phone down. If you can’t clearly express what you are selling, chances are good I’m going to find something more interesting to do than speak with you.
OK, so these may seem like obvious tips to improve your cold calling, but salespeople all over the world are guilty of these crimes each and every day.
Top tip – Record your calls and play them back. Do you make any of these mistakes? If you do, then you know exactly what to do!