The BizFilings blog covering business tips and trends.
How to Survive the Ordeal of Cold Calling
Published on Jun 25, 2012
Read our article, 'How to Survive the Ordeal of Cold Calling' at 'Time to Start Up,' the small business blog by BizFilings.
By Adam Toren
The hardest job in the world may be calling total strangers and getting them to buy something from you. You have approximately three seconds to convince them to stay on the line, listen to what you have to say, and take you seriously enough to allow you to pursue the next step. This may be an appointment, a product demonstration or just the chance to send them a video or email with more information.
Cold calling is not fun or easy. Depending upon your product, the rejection level could be as high as 99 percent – or higher. You leave messages that no one bothers to answer. You’re kept from your target by secretaries and receptionists. When you finally reach the right person, they may tell you they’re out the door for a meeting in one minute, whether they are or not.
So, if it’s so hard, no fun, and unproductive, why do it? Simply because, sometimes it’s the best way to sell your product. In fact, sometimes it’s the only way to sell your product. And because – despite the rejections, the challenges and the unbelievable amount of time involved – cold calling works.
Here are a few tips to survive the cold calling process, and to be a bit more successful at it.
Get a good list: There are professional list sellers who can help you find the people who are a good fit for your product. Or you may know of an association filled with people that would be good candidates and most of those will sell their member lists. Another way is to browse magazines and conduct an Internet search for your targets. Don’t settle for a few dozen. If you’re cold calling you need hundreds if not thousands of potential contacts.
Prepare and practice your pitch: You have so little time that you have to be ready to jump in with your best lines using just the right tone and pace. Put a mirror in front of you so you remember to smile and be friendly but not pushy. Rehearse with a couple of friends over the phone until they say you’re ready. Remember, that one person you actually reach may be your next customer – stay focused and ready.
Keep track: Sales software programs such as ACT are designed for salespeople and allow you to track your calls, including dates, times, contacts and what happened. You want to know that one person never answers his or her phone and never returns a message. You want to try different days of the week and times of the day on each contact to see if you can match their schedule of availability. These programs also keep track and remind you to follow up with people you actually talk to. The recommended selling approach for a new client is phone call – letter or email – and then a follow-up phone call.
Try different tactics: Do you have two or three pitches you’ve been working on and can’t choose just one? Try all three and note which one you use for each contact. You may discover that one approach gets attention and another gets no response.
Reward yourself: It’s often discouraging to spend a day making cold calls. Often all you have at the end for your effort is a sore ear and a tired voice. You should be proud of yourself, even if you’re not succeeding immediately. So call a friend who won’t hang up on you, meet someone for dinner and complain (just a little), order take-out over the phone – after all, that person will listen to you politely and say thank you at the end of the conversation.
In many industries, a willingness to make lots and lots of cold calls can be the key to sales success. And the best news is that once you get through and talk with someone, the next time it will be a warm call, and those can be fun and rewarding.