If you’re like most people, you dread the thought of picking up the phone and doing a cold sales call. Oftentimes, this is caused by a fear of rejection. While it is true that there is a higher closing ratio with sales leads that are developed in person, cold calling is just as important, and can be made more effective with the following 10 tips:
- Smile before you dial: It sounds cheesy, but if you ensure that you’ve got a smile on your face when you pick up that phone, the person on the other end is going to hear it! Would you rather be interpreted as a happy person, or a nervous person?
- Write it down: There isn’t any shame in using a script. Before you start dialing, jot down some notes on what you plan to say so that you don’t draw a blank on the phone. Some companies provide scripts to their employees as well, which can often be adjusted and personalized to suit your selling style.
- Make it personal. Avoid jargon: While you may be on the phone with the 35th customer you’ve called today, remember that the person on the other line is just that – A person! Be kind, and speak using basic, easy to understand terms.
- Find the need, show the benefit: What sort of benefits will your client have from booking an appointment with you? Do you sell something that they need? Their first thought on a sales call will be, “What’s in it for me?” No matter what you are selling – Whether it be insurance, jewelry or vacuum cleaners, you need to be able to explain what your product offers that your competitors may not. Is it an unbeatable extended warranty? Is it a sturdier, more reliable product? Is it the fact that you’ve been in business the longest in your industry? Let your client know why giving you their time will be worth it for them.
- Know your stuff, or admit that you don’t: Try to have a base of knowledge on what you are calling about, so that if you are asked a question, you can answer it. If you don’t know the answer to a question, be honest. Try saying something like, “I’m not quite sure about that Mr. Richardson, but I will contact my manager and have an answer for you when you get here”. There’s no shame in not having all of the answers, and customers will appreciate your honesty and willingness to go that extra mile to answer their questions. And you NEVER want to give incorrect information if you are unsure!
- Give two options: In most cases, the goal with cold calling is to set up an appointment, so you can meet in person. That being said, asking yes or no questions is generally not successful. Instead of saying, “Are you able to come in for an appointment with me?” try something like, “Would a morning or afternoon appointment work best for you?” This changes the question from “Will you?” To “When will you?” and using this method is proven to give a significantly higher success rate.
- Handle objections: Aside from those quick and easy sales (which, let’s face it, are few and far between), customers are going to put up walls. Your job is to be able to tear down those walls, so learning how to handle objections is essential for cold calling.
Have a look at the following scenario as an example:
Customer: “I will have to check with my husband and get back to you.”
Salesperson: “I understand Mrs. Smith. Because of this event, my schedule has been booking up very quickly. Perhaps we can set you up with a tentative appointment, and if you need to change it after you talk to your husband, you can give me a call. Would 2:00pm or 3:15pm work best for you?”
See how easily the objection was transitioned from a rejection to the customer choosing an appointment time? Remember: The more cold calls you make, the more practice you gain with handling objections.
- Fake it ‘til you make it: Cold calling is not easy, and it makes most of us feel nervous and uncomfortable. The most successful salespeople don’t necessarily like cold calls either, so what do they know that others don’t? They know the importance of confidence. You might be a salesperson on a team of 500 people, but if you are polite and show confidence in what you are doing, the client is more apt to gain confidence in your company. I once worked in the car business, and when I was very new, I was obsessed with learning every single detail about every single vehicle we had - And we had a lot of vehicles! I asked one of the most successful salesmen that had been there a long time for advice on how to remember each individual model and trim level. His response was, “I don’t know much about cars”. I was flabbergasted. “What do you mean, you don’t know anything about cars? You sell 20 of them every month!” His response was, “I don’t know much about cars, but I know a lot about how to talk to people”. Those words have helped me in my automotive sales career, and beyond. I’m not suggesting that knowing your stuff isn’t important, but having a combination of knowledge and confidence will take you very far in cold calling, and in your career as a whole.
- Never give up: According to AllBusiness.com, “80% of new sales are made after the 5th contact, yet the majority of salespeople give up after the second call.” Call, send mailers, and visit the office. Be persistent, but not annoying! With all of this being said, it is a great idea to take a few notes after each call to help you remember objections or questions the customer had, as well as personal tidbits they mentioned (Do they have kids? Do you both love dogs?). This will give you common ground and something non-sales related to talk about later, which will make transitioning to selling much easier.
- Don’t leave a message: Unless it is your third or fourth attempt to contact the customer, generally leaving a message is not the best idea. If you are making 30-40 cold calls a day and someone calls you back the following day, you will probably have no idea who it is, what the message was that you left, etc. If you don’t leave a message, you can call them back when you are prepared – With all of the information you need in front of you to have an effective sales call.
Written by Michelle Breau