Would you rather drop a large bowling ball on your foot than make a cold call? If so, you're in good company – many, perhaps most, salespeople hate cold calling. Of course, cold calling is still the most effective way to reach out to new leads and get appointments, and as long as that's the case salespeople will continue to do plenty of cold calling. So if you're stuck with making cold calls why not do it as effectively as possible so you won't need to do as much? Here are some tips that can help you crank up your response rate for cold calls.
Get It Over With
Schedule a block of time as early as possible in the day to make your cold calls, then stick to it. If you put in your hour (or whatever) first thing, at least you won't have it hanging over your head the rest of the day. Plus, some salespeople find that it's easier to get through to decision-makers first thing in the morning.
Have a Great Opener
The first 30 seconds or so of a cold call are make it or break it time. That's why the opener is the most important part of your cold call. If you refuse to use a cold calling script, at least prep a few strong openers and test them out. You'll see much better results on your cold calls.
Know the Lead Before You Call
When it comes to cold calling, Google is your friend. So are Facebook and (for B2B salespeople particularly) LinkedIn. These tools can give you amazingly useful information about the person you plan to call next. Finding out that a particular lead went to the same college you did or is friends with someone you happen to know can give you a huge advantage.
Don't Make Assumptions
Some leads will happily agree to an appointment even though they have no intention of buying from you. They may be looking for ammunition they can use to negotiate a better deal with their current vendor, or simply too polite to just blow you off over the phone. On the other hand, some extremely resistant people will turn out to be fantastic prospects and later, customers. Be aware that a prospect's attitude during a cold call is not necessarily an indicator of how likely he is to buy.
Sell the Appointment
Cold calling is not intended to close sales. It's intended to get you a step further along the sales process towards eventually closing a sale. Focus on selling the prospect on setting an appointment with you, not on selling the product itself. Once you've got the prospect in front of you at an appointment, THEN you can start selling the product.
Qualify, but Not Too Hard
No lead list is perfect, so at least some of the people you call will not be qualified to buy from you. If you can weed those people out during the cold call, you'll save yourself a lot of wasted appointment time. On the other hand, you don't want to ask a million qualifying questions during the cold call and antagonize your prospect. Stick with a few of the most important qualifying questions and hold off on the rest until later.