Cold calling can seem intimidating and difficult, something to be wary of, or something to apologize for when you reach someone.
“I’m sorry for calling you out of the blue like this, but let me tell you about my company…”
Everyone is a salesperson!
If you are not selling a direct product or service, then you are selling yourself, your brand, and your company. Confidence is the most important piece of your success as a salesperson, with passion coming in at a close second.
You need to be confident that what you are selling (the product, the service, yourself, etc) is going to benefit the other person or their company, and confident you are giving them correct information.
You need to be passionate about whatever it is you’re selling. If it is exam training manuals to help them pass an accounting exam, then you need to believe they work and will help the customer pass the exams. If it is a non-tangible service, such as consulting, then you need to understand how it works and believe that it will truly make a difference for the client’s company. If you’re selling a writing service, you need to understand the details and be passionate about the process and know you are helping your clients reach their goals.
I have sold all of these specific examples. And because I truly believed in the product/service, I’ve sold them all successfully. To be confident and passionate, believing in your company or the one you work for is very important. A salesperson who thinks their product is trash is not going to be able to convince YOU that it isn’t.
Cold calling is a huge part of selling anything. Call it sales, call it business development, it boils down to one thing: bringing in new clients to your company. New clients = profit, and sales are the backbone of every successful business.
So, how do we take cold calling and turn it from a necessary evil into something you actively participate in and do extremely well?
As I mentioned, it starts with confidence and passion for what you’re selling. Then you identify the people/companies you’re planning to call. Finally, you have to understand and be able to articulate WHY that person should buy into you and your company.
You’re more likely to get a call back from someone, or for them to listen to you on a cold call when you have something that will directly benefit them. What can YOU do for THEM? This is how you should be approaching every call. How does your service or product make their lives easier, save them money, or save them time?
What sets your company apart from your competitors and how can you explain it to someone?
Professional, Personable, Knowledgeable
Cold calling is a sales call. You are selling yourself first, as a resource and as an expert, and your company’s services second. In order to do this, you need to be professional, personable, and knowledgeable. Your contact needs to be able to trust you and believe you know what you’re talking about. Would you buy something from someone you didn’t trust or whom you thought might not fully understand their product or service?
Try different approaches. Are you more casual or more formal? Which one brings you the most new contacts, the best conversations, the most information?
Active Listening is especially important in a sales call. This is when you listen to what someone is saying in full, without interrupting, then paraphrase what they said (“So, what you’re saying is…”), and then addressing any issues or concerns.
- Listen to how they talk, not just what they are saying. Is it clearly not the best time for them?
- Offer to call back at a more convenient time and identify the specific date and time you’ll call back.
- Get their direct contact information to make future contact easier!
- Are they passive or actively interested in the product/service you are bringing to them?
You are the Expert
Even though it is a cold call, YOU ARE THE EXPERT. It is up to you to ask the tough questions, even when it is the first conversation. Don’t shy away, but you also shouldn’t be overly aggressive about it. You should be setting up the whole conversation to learn more about this person and their company and needs, and asking different questions to determine if they will directly benefit from working with your company.
In order to sell your personal brand, your status as a subject-matter expert, and yourself as a resource, contacts need to be confident that you know what you’re talking about and can offer them help in finding a new product/service, and that you’ll be providing them with solutions to the best of your ability and with their best interests in mind. This is why you need the answers to those tough questions!
You are in control of the conversation and responsible for making sure that you’re getting all of the information you need to be able to give them the best services and products that you have to offer.
Your expertise shines through on a cold call!
So, what do you need for making the ultimate sales call?
- Confidence in yourself and your product/service.
- Passion for your product/service.
- Thorough knowledge of your product/service.
- Understanding of how the product/service will directly benefit the client.
- The ability to ask any difficult and necessary questions and remain in control of the conversation (Not aggressive control, but control as in directing the flow of the conversation to be getting the information needed).
What has worked best for you on cold calls? What was your most successful call with a client or prospect?
Add any advice for other salespeople you can think of in the comments!
*This article is specifically addressing the mechanics of cold calling and does not go into the background work and details which precede a cold call, such as research into the company or individual you’re calling or the training that salespeople go through regularly to maintain and grow their knowledge of the products/services that they are offering.*