10 tips for successful cold calling in sales

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I hated my first cold call.
I was absolutely petrified when I dialled the number of the prospect. In fact, I was so nervous I was physically shaking. The anxiety of making the call was overwhelming. I was a sweaty, nervous wreck.
I was frightened about the outcome. I didn’t know who would pick up the phone. I didn’t know what I was going to say. I wasn’t ready.
I dialled the number. The phone rang… and rang… and rang. No one picked up.
Ha! What was I worried about? The person on the end of the phone can’t see me. They don’t know me.
It took a dozen phone calls before I eventually got to complete my first pitch. It was terrible. So what? It was the start of a highly rewarding career. We all start somewhere and I was addicted.
Whatever your thoughts are on cold calling, it’s a fact that the phone still drives the business. It’s a fundamental communications tool, and you need to be proficient and confident at using it.
Don’t be afraid of the phone.
Here are my 10 tips for successful cold calling.

1 – Get your mindset right

Cold calling is a lot easier if your head is in the right place. Have faith in yourself, and in the product or service you’re selling, and you’ll be excited to make that call. Look at it like you’re doing the prospect a favour by calling them to speak about your product.
As you know, I’m all about setting goals. If you’ve followed my advice and set goals for the year, have a look at your dream chart before you make those calls. It will remind you that making those difficult calls is a primary contributing factor to you achieving those goals and having the life you dream of. Now, go and do it.
Finally on this, anything else you can do to stay motivated is great. When I was working for a door-to-door sales company, the owner of the company used to keep a sheet of paper on him when he was out selling. On it was his list of prospects, and he’d place a tick or cross next to the name. A tick for a yes. A cross for a no. As simple as that. His view was that every cross moved him closer to a tick. We all have little systems that work for us. Find yours and use it.

2 – Start early

If you find it hard to actually get hold of your decision-makers, maybe you’re not starting early enough.
Many business owners, or senior executives, get to the office early, before 8 am. They like to miss the traffic, they like to get work done before the perils of the day start eating into their schedule and distract them. Or maybe they get in early so they can leave early.
Either way, you should be in the office and dialling numbers before 8 am. It sets you up for the day and puts you in a positive state of mind. It also warms up your vocal chords and gets your brain functioning. Set that alarm early, and get going.

3 – Be prepared

If you’re taking the trouble to get in the office early to make calls, make sure you spend that time actually making calls. Prepare your list of prospects, with names, numbers and any other relevant information the afternoon before. Make sure they’re the decision-makers.

4 – Don’t go it alone

If you can, try to get your team to do cold calling with you. Sit next to them while you’re doing it.
For a start, if the person sitting next to you is on the phone and talking, they can’t hear what you’re doing, so it eliminates any embarrassment factor.
Secondly, you can make it a competition, and that is highly motivating. Whoever gets the most meetings booked that morning has to buy the ice creams in the afternoon!

5 – Get a good start

Once you’re actually on the call and through to your decision-maker, it’s important to get a good start. You only get one shot at a first impression.
Think of how you sound on the phone. In this situation, you want to sound confident, clear, articulate and trustworthy. Demonstrate your credibility by asking a pertinent question or displaying a bit of inside knowledge. Build rapport.
If you start your call well, you’ll find your groove, and your nerves will disappear.

6 – Don’t go straight for the pitch

Never launch straight into your pitch as soon as your prospect answers the phone. The prospect won’t appreciate it, and there is no chance it will end well.
Ask permission for their time. This shows respect, but also it shows that you respect yourself.
‘Please may I share a couple of minutes of your time to tell you more?’
Pause and wait for a yes, but assume it’s going to be a no.
If they say no, make light of it. Something like, ‘I want to be totally respectful of your time. So if you don’t find what I have to say interesting after I’ve told you about it, I’ll hang up before you do. Would you be happy for me to explain what…’

7 – Keep your pitch short and sweet

When you get to the pitch stage of the call, keep it short. The whole call should take less than 5 minutes, so work out how much time you have left when you start to pitch.
Work out the key points of your pitch in advance, and work your way through them. Check with the caller that they’re understanding the benefits of what you are selling. Listen for signals.

8 – Don’t go for the deal

Just like launching straight into the pitch, asking for a sale on the first call is a complete no-no.
The goal of your first call should be to schedule a second one, where you can take a bit longer, around 15 minutes, to explain your offering in more detail.
No deals, no meetings, nothing more than another call.
Sales is a process. At each stage of the process you’re asking for permission to spend more time with your prospect, and take them deeper into your sales funnel. In the next call, you will discover more, and qualify your prospect further.

9 – Take notes

Take notes as you go through the call. Take notes of everything you can. Even if a piece of info the prospect gives you seems irrelevant at a time, it will probably come in useful later.
Use your notes to recall information later on in the sales process, which makes you appear more professional. People like salespeople who listen and remember what they heard.

10 – Follow-up

Lastly, make sure you follow up with the prospect once you’ve finished the call. Send them an email thanking them for their time, summarising what you’ve already agreed. Also remember to connect with them on Linkedin.
It makes you appear professional and involved in the process. It may also stop them forgetting what they’ve agreed with you.
Cold calling can be a pejorative term, because any call that involves human interaction is a warm call. Don’t believe anyone who says they never cold call though. This sales technique is still one of the main techniques for businesses to make sales.
I have many more tips that will improve your call success rate. They will appear in a future post, so make sure you follow me to stay updated. #salesconfidence
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