Is there a "good" way to cold call?
My B2B Copywriting / Marketing / PR business has been successful over the years, but we need to expand our marketing efforts into cold calling. This is an area in which I have nearly zero experience and also to which I have some aversion. Any suggestions? (i.e. best day of the week, time of day to call, how to get around the gate keepers, etc.)
Absolutely. Like most things in life, your success will depend on several factors. Having a firm, but a flexible process. Phone, email, etc... Knowing your prospects inside and out. In other words, do your homework. Have a clear, engaging, and consistent message. Time of day and week can depend on the verticals you are calling. I like early mornings and late in the day. Always get the next action. When speaking to a "gate-keeper", don't make it a sales call. For example, you want to schedule an appointment to discuss industry trends or you are returning their call. Keep good notes and if they tell you to follow up in a month, do it! A good CRM will help to hold all this data. Lastly, don't stop until you get a yes or a no. They expect you to give up. I have closed more deals just because of persistence, than anything else. Keep a sense of humor. Take NO for what it is and move on. Feel free to contact me directly for more insight.
Good luck & good selling!
That's a good question. Most people have an aversion to cold calling, because it is difficult to get past the gatekeepers to get to the person you want to meet. The author of "Authority", Rob Cuesta has an interesting way to bypass this problem. His best selling book illustrates how using Authority books helps you grow your influence and generate leads. It takes cold calling and turns it into "warm" calling. Here is the Amazon link
The rudiments for successful cold calling are pretty simple; 1). the salesperson must quickly identify who the decision maker is and not waste time talking with anyone else. 2). the salesperson needs to ask the prospect questions in order to engage them and get them to interact. Most people love to talk about themselves. 3). it's very helpful if the salesperson believes that he/ she is truly offering a great opportunity to the prospect and is prepared to explain why. Their honesty shines through the pitch and there is a greater chance of progress being made. 4). the salesperson must always try to take away something positive from each call, even if it just asking the prospect for an email address to send a proposal to or, for their permission to call again with another opportunity in the future. Most people are somewhat polite if the caller is polite, professional and means well. 5). the more calls that are made, the higher the chances of success so set a daily minimum and stick to it.
All sage and insightful comments to bare in mind.
I suggest having a lose script to start the conversation and listen for the queues for direction. Record your first 5 cold calls. Don't listen to them until completing the final call. At first listen you'll cringe...a lot but, don't be afraid of making mistakes. You and that one person are your only critics. You'll also recognize missed opportunities to be aware of in the future. As you become better at it, periodically record a call for quality control. Be a good listener to your contact and his colleagues. It provides insight into company culture, hierarchy, best time to call them and others of importance and so on. Try to incorporate more questions in your presentation. Again...opportunity to learn. Cold calling involves your personal style in the delivery of information. If you are comfortable in your product/service knowledge, then it becomes a matter of need and your personality. You must convey you are among the best at what you do without beating them over the head with it. Even if you don't walk away with the sale on the first call, which rarely happens, you want them to take your next. Knowing when to consult and when to close will define your success. The truth is, these type of calls are the same ones we all avoid at some point in our day so, try to keep it short but, relevant and build over time.
Lastly, know when to let go. There will be those calls when it just doesn't click...for whatever reason. Don't spend time dissecting it. There's always the next lead and it doesn't hurt to try back again in a few months, Change is constant and I've seen it yield positive results.
As Robert said do your homework..
Know the industry they are in and the products/services they offer.
Know the title(s) of the best people to contact.
Know the names at each company you call who has those titles.
One very good source is Data.com.
Once you know the industry, telling gatekeeper and/or the prospect clients of yours in their industry. ( We work with...) It gives instant creditability .
SMILE - It comes across in the way you sound.
Remember you are calling to help them with their problems, needs, goals etc...If they say not interested. Ask when would it be reasonable to touch base again.
Persistence and follow up are a must.
Remember 48% of sales people never follow up with a prospect
Remember 80% of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth contact
It can help if you send an e-mail, fax or letter ahead to which you can refer during your cold call.
In some cases simply mentioning a previous sent e-mail might even help to get into contact with the right person. E.g. you can then say "I sent an offer on and like to know if they had time to consider?" and since you did not actually sent it they might be interested enough to ask you all about your offer. I know at least a handful of business owners that use this tactic to good effect.
Hi, in the past I have been in that same position for offering web design services to small businesses, starting with absolutely no leads or contacts, the only thing on my side was my experience in data mining to build a list of businesses that fitted my criteria and had none/limited web presence. Cold calling really isn't my game, on top of that I have an accent and I really didn't want to sound as an overseas call centre. So I did the following:
1) Spoke with an Ex University colleague that had nearly a decade of call centre work on his shoulders(few people last long in those environments where cold calling and compulsory sales targets are concerned), the point being I reached out for advice from someone that survived in the deep end of a job that most people avoid. From this I learned a lot, you really can't beat field experience.
2) I have learned that the main problem once you have the leads is to reach the right person that can make decisions on the pitch, I have to be honest when I say that I found the process soul destroying when my call didn't go past a front line person like a secretary or the pbx person, probably overworked/overwhelmed and with little patience to pass on the message/call to the right person.
3) I have learned not to take it personally, Karma also has a place in Sales, now I knew how the guys that phoned me now and then to sell me stuff I was not interested felt like!
I have grown from that experience, eventually finding different and more automated ways to serve ads to those clients via highly targeted campaigns, I have to remark that the entire cold calling pitch thing did help me a lot to understand how to write better copy for my ads, as well as getting a first impression that served me to establish if I really wanted to deal with some of those prospective clients. A word of caution about unsolicited calls, while you are not breaking the law(when it comes to businesses), some people either have very little tolerance to it, or use therapeutically it to vent some stress.
I hope this helps and didn't put you off, I just wanted to share my experience honestly.
Hi Gery, Lots of good perspectives to consider here. Cold Calling is hard, may not position your professional services well and consumes a lot of time with low return. It is best to warm your targets up any way you can. Best way is to research and identify someone who can introduce you to a target company - they don't need to know you well enough to refer you an intro will help. Also, any tactical marketing from direct mail, telemarketing, email, etc. can help create that receptivity. Make sure you have a leave behind. In your business, a tips booklet may be interesting and sustained.
Hi Gery, do not try to get around gate keepers. I promise you they are worth to you when they are on your side. Ask the gate keeper for a honest opinion, in most cases they know exactly the company's abilities and shortfalls. Learn first and pitch later.
Improving your level of preparedness when cold calling can help tremendously. Sounds
simple right? Well, this is worth discussing as the majority of sales people use an improvisational approach when cold calling. This involves a sales person pulling up a contact to call, picking up the phone, and then relying on their experience and knowledge to guide them during call.
When you first connect with a suspect, you will need to introduce yourself and state the
purpose for the call. Its a very important part of the call as you need to say something that both grabs the suspect’s attention and tells why they should stop what they are doing to talk with you. Hence, I would recommend, that have a good script with you, to have an effective conversation with your buyer.
I would recommend, you could club cold calling with cold emailing. Using an email automation software, you know who have opened your emails, and who has visited your website - you could possibly target them to call.