Other than a root canal or public speaking, very few things strike more fear into the heart of the entrepreneur than cold calling.
You know you need to drum up business. You know one of the quickest ways to do so is to start making phone calls. But getting that knowledge from your brain to your dialing fingers is tough – especially if you’re not used to it.
Before you stress, take a look at these tips that will help make your cold calling more successful and enjoyable.
Do your homework.
Before you pick up the phone, be sure you know whom you’re targeting. Knowing your target will save you time and cut down on wasted calls and rejection. Then find out as much as you can about the company or person before you call so you can talk intelligently about their business and their needs.
Write it down.
Preparing a script for your conversation – especially the opening statement – helps you organize your thoughts before you pick up the phone, and makes those first few seconds less painful. But make sure your remarks are designed as a conversation starter, now be a sales spiel. And whatever you do, don’t sound like you’re reading it!
So what should be in it? AllBusiness.com suggests an organizational format for your first 20 seconds that includes a greeting and an introduction, a reference point (something about your prospect), the benefits of your product/service, and a transition to a question or dialogue. For example, perhaps something like this:
“Hi Ms. Simon. This is Jason Smith from HouseWorks. I heard from a mutual friend that you were just promoted to vice president of your company. I would imagine that having an important job like that doesn’t leave you much time. As the number one maid service in our area, HouseWorks can make your life a whole lot easier. And I’d like to tell you how.”
The body of the rest of the script should specify your product/service benefits and how they can make your prospect’s life easier, richer, fuller. Appeal to them on an emotional level. Again, don’t read the script word for word, but use it as talking points in a back and forth dialogue.
Ask for the appointment.
Expert cold callers will tell you that the goal isn’t to make a sale over the phone, but to get an appointment to make your pitch. Very few people will buy your product or service based on a phone call. In asking for the appointment, it is best to phrase the question like “Would next Tuesday at 10 a.m. be a good time to meet?” instead of “When would be a good time for you to meet?”
Soften the beaches.
Many cold-call gurus recommend smoothing the way for your call considerably if you send your prospects a small unique promotional item beforehand. This helps to introduce yourself and/or your company. It can be anything, really. You’re only limited by your imagination…and good taste. Taking my HouseWorks example above, Jason could have sent Ms. Simon a feather duster with a card that said something like “I’d be tickled to have a few minutes of your time,” along with some info about himself and his company. That way when he called, Ms. Simon would most likely recognize the name, and probably got a kick out of the item.
The more you cold call, the better you get. The more you practice, the more confident you will be, and the more effective your sales tactics will become.
By now, your fingers are probably ready to pick up the phone and start dialing, right? Right? Well, if not…don’t worry. You’ll get there. Who knows? You might even find you like it!
Donna Williams is the founder and creator of BusinessBurrito.com – a website dedicated to helping small businesses grow to their maximum potential. She is also a 25-year advertising / marketing executive, creative director, writer, and producer. Together, Donna and her husband currently own and co-own five small businesses. To learn more about Donna and read more of her articles, visit her website at