In sales prospecting is a critical activity. You might be able to sell “ice to an Eskimo” but if you can’t get in front of qualified prospects, what does it matter? One of the most often applied tactics to prospecting is cold calling – “dialing for dollars” as many describe it. Most of us don’t like it but it’s an important activity.
Cold calling can be easy and rewarding if you have a sound method for doing it. This article provides an easy 4-step process for making cold calling easy and effective.
Who you going to call?
Before you begin calling, you need a list of people to call. The list can come from an association of which you are a member, or a list of past customer contacts that might be in your database. You can also purchase lists of prospects by going to Hoovers, Sales Genie, Info USA and a variety of online resources. For a reasonable price, you can go online and come away with a sorted list of companies to call that meet your criteria.
4 steps to an effective cold call
Once you have your list, it’s time to start dialing. The keys to phone cold calling are preparation and flow. You need to prepare your script that follows these 4 steps…
What prospects want to hear
In the process of writing my second book, I conducted a survey of hundreds of decision makers who have responsibility for purchasing business services and products. In this survey we asked two questions relative to phone cold calling.
The question “If a salesperson calls you and leaves a message for you, what kind of message will motivate you to return the call?” Here were the results…
- 42% of respondents said “state clearly how a conversation and/or meeting would benefit my business”
- 39% of respondents said “state that someone he/she knows had referred you and suggested he/she take the call”
Less than 1% of the respondents stated that a special offer or special deal would be a legitimate reason to return the call.
We also asked “If a salesperson calls you and reaches you live, what will you have to hear in order to agree to a scheduled meeting with that salesperson?”
- 36% of respondents said “the person calling is already doing business with someone I know and respect”
- 34% of respondents said “without small-talk, immediately state how a meeting would benefit me”
The two most important elements are 1) the WIFM (what’s in it for me – the prospect) and 2) a referral name. When cold calling, get to the WIFM step (Step 4) as quickly as possible without missing steps 1-3, and drop a name or two on your way there.
How to get a referral or contact
As stated earlier, 39% of the decision makers indicated they’d listen to a cold call if someone they know referred them. So how do you get such a referral? Two easy ways to make this happen are
- Participate in a variety of networking groups in which you can share leads and contacts with other like-minded people. Groups like Business Network International (BNI), Professional Referral Organization (PRO), and a variety of others that exist for this very purpose.
- Go to LinkedIn.com and find someone with whom you have a mutual connection to the prospect you are calling, or at least can introduce you.
Get an email address
In most cases a sale is made when a buyer’s need intersects with awareness of who provides the product/service. The timing may not be right when you make the call but it may be right in 3 months. So, during the call get the person’s email address. The best way to do this is to say something like – “At times we send out important market research reports that might be beneficial to you. May I get your email address to send you the next report?” This gives you the opportunity to keep your prospect aware of who you are and the benefits you provide.
Cold calling, although intimidating to many, can be easy. Get your list of people to call, get referrals and prepare a script that follows the 4 steps. Determine the main thing of “what’s in it for them” and begin dialing.