While many prospecting methods exist nowadays – including email, social media, and even snail mail – cold calling via the telephone is still the primary method used by most salespeople. That's because cold calling just works best. The other prospecting methods can be extremely effective, but they tend to take much longer to move someone from a lead to a customer. For the salesperson in a hurry, cold calling is the way to go.
Yet some salespeople report a complete lack of successful cold calling. What's going on here? Those salespeople are probably making one or more of the below common cold calling mistakes.
Not Enough Phone Time
Some salespeople feel like they're spending all their time prospecting, without results. But what those salespeople are actually doing is spending all their time PREPARING to cold call, without actually doing a lot of cold calling. They are collecting lead lists, researching leads, going over CRM data, talking to existing customers to get feedback, looking up leads on social media, and so on. Pre-call research definitely has its place, but if you're spending more time researching than you are spending actually on the phone with prospects, it's time to cut back on the preparatory activities and invest that time on the phone.
Failing to Qualify
The only way to determine which leads are actual prospects is to qualify them. You can, of course, wait to qualify until you are actually in the sales appointment. However, if you don't do at least a little qualifying over the phone, you will end up wasting an astounding amount of time meeting with people who are not actual prospects. Given that time is a salesperson's most precious resource, you're better off taking 30 seconds to ask a couple of basic questions during the cold call.
Selling During the Call
The point of a cold call is not to make a sale. The point is to get your prospect to agree to a meeting, at which you will have his full attention and can start actually selling to him. During the initial call, it's very unlikely that your prospect will become interested enough to buy. If you try selling during the cold call, all you will do is give your prospects an excuse to say "I'm not interested" and hang up.
Your prospects don't care that you need to make a sale. They're thinking about their own problems, not yours. So if you fail to show WIIFM during the cold call, you may lose the prospect right then and there. Remember, the entire purpose of the cold call is to get the prospect interested. And the prospect is not going to be interested in your product's features.
A Weak Opener
When you make a cold call, you have just a few seconds to catch the prospect's interest. Because as soon as the prospect realizes that this is a cold call, he stops listening. You need to pique his interest in the first few seconds so that when he does realize you're a salesperson, he'll still be intrigued enough to want to hear more. So before you even touch the phone, craft yourself a strong opening phrase.
Not Closing the Call
Most salespeople know that it's important to close in order to commit a prospect to buying. But you may not realize that you also have to close the prospect on making an appointment. Even if your cold calling technique is effective and the prospect is interested, he probably won't volunteer to meet with you and hear more. After you've delivered your opener, answered a few questions, dropped a few interesting facts, and done a bit of qualifying, it's time to ask for the appointment just as you would ask for the sale.