Cold calling is one of the scariest, toughest aspects of business. It’s so tough that most of us will make up all kinds of excuses just to avoid it. We’ll default to sending out email, sending out flyers, buying PPC ads, or making excuses like, “I just can’t do it because I’m not a natural salesperson.” If you are not a fan of doing cold calling yourself, then the simplest solution would to just get a cold calling service team to help you out instead.
The reality is that cold calling is one of the best ways to generate sales, whether you’re bootstrapping a new venture or trying to gain clients for your consulting business. It requires no investment of capital, and there’s no barrier to entry—except your own ability.
The problem with cold calling is that it is not only scary, but it’s also extremely tough to do well. To generate new business, cold calling is a valuable skill that will pay off in spades—you just have to be willing to put in the time and dedication. If that sounds good to you, here are five tips that will boost your cold call success rates.
1. Craft a Killer Opening Statement
Having a killer opening statement is crucial to cold calling success. With cold calling, you have only a brief window to create a rapport with the prospect in order to transition into further dialogue.
A good opening statement should include:
- A brief greeting
- A reference point that can be linked to the purpose of your call
- The benefit of your service/product
- A question that will help transition to dialogue with the potential client
Together, these elements provide a rough blueprint for transitioning from the beginning of the call to further dialogue with the potential client. Here’s an example of these four elements in action:
“Good morning, Mr. Smith. This is John Snow from Acme Ltd. I noticed that you recently started purchasing Google Adwords Pay Per Click ads. I specialize in helping local businesses get more value from their Adwords campaigns, and I was just wondering if you knew that a recent marketing study showed that ads with keywords in the title get more clicks?”
Being able to open, build rapport, demonstrate the benefit of your business (and thus your call) and transition to further dialogue will greatly increase your cold call success rate, so be sure to include these elements in your opening statement and practice it as often as possible.
2. Conduct Preliminary Research
Just because you’re cold calling doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be prepared. The reason cold calling is so difficult is because you don’t have rapport with your contact—think about how much easier it is to call someone who you’ve met before, even if just once? Having one or two pieces of extra info on a prospect can mean the difference between getting the cold shoulder or a listening ear. This will come in handy when looking for a reference point in your opening statement.
In the age of Google and social networks, there’s no excuse for not doing some preliminary research on your prospect. It’s not difficult these days to do a little research on a prospect’s business and even some of their personal information. Yes, putting in the extra time to do the research will mean you make less calls per hour, but the increase in your success rate will more than make up for it.
3. Split Test Your Pitch and Prepare a Script
The goal is to develop a pitch that has a consistent, high rate of success, and doesn't sound like you’re reading from a script. You still want the call to have an organic feel—so there are times you’ll need to deviate from your script—but too many cold callers take an unsystematic approach that minimizes the chances of success. If you want to maximize your success, you shouldn’t just be saying whatever is on your mind at the moment you call (unless that really works for you!).
Come up with different opening statements and a variety of pitches from different angles. Test them out on multiple prospects, noting the level of success of each pitch. Over time, you’ll start to piece together the elements of a pitch that work best for different segments of your industry.
4. Use Specifics When Closing
If you’ve managed to get your prospect on the phone and kept them around long enough to listen your pitch, the last thing you want to do is mess up the closing. A lot of individuals who are uncomfortable with cold calling default to weak, general closings that reduce the chances of getting a “Yes.”
Here’s an example of a poor closing:
“Can we meet to discuss this further sometime?”
Compare this to:
“Would Thursday at 10 a.m. be a good time for us to meet?”
Can you tell the difference? The latter nudges the prospect to meet with you, while the first question encourages answers like, “I’ll need to think about it.”
5. Practice, Practice, Practice
Don’t see an unsuccessful cold call as a failure, see it as another practice session under your belt. Cold calling is a tough skill to master, and like all tough skills, it takes practice to master—lots and lots of practice. The more practice you get, the better results you’ll achieve, and the more confident you’ll be the next time you pick up the phone. Remember, no matter how confident you are in your product or service, the people who want to do business with you need to know about you first.
Nate Ryerson is an aspiring entrepreneur who also does writing, web development, and SEO consulting for Whoishostingthis.com. You can find him reviewing and testing webhosts at their company whoishostingthis.com/hosting-reviews/. He uses his cold calling techniques to generate new clients for his consulting business, but hopes to apply them to a product-based business in the near future.