This post on cold calling was originally published on Oct 6, 2015 and updated on June 26, 2019.
When making cold calls and opening sales calls on the phone, you need guideposts, touch points of some kind to help guide your interaction. Now, some sales trainers would say you need a script when cold calling. However, I think a cold calling script is too rigid. A sales rep must be flexible and address people where they find them mentally and attitudinally, not where the script says your prospect should be.
Besides, most sales reps use the script as a crutch, reading it like a nervous speaker reading their PowerPoint slides while delivering a presentation.
In its most basic form, a script gives you an outline of your opening process when cold calling. But to make it your own, you need to have flexibility and awareness so you can respond appropriately to your prospects and earn their trust.
So, let’s trade the traditional, worn out cold calling script for a general outline of your opening process. This will give you a better chance of engaging your prospects when you have them on the phone.
6 Powerful Ideas to Master the Art of Cold Calling
Here are 6 ideas to review. But remember, be flexible and adapt your process to your individual situation and your prospect.
Open Your Cold Call by Getting Their Attention.
Sometimes, simply using your prospect’s name is enough. Most sales reps, when they open a call, talk about themselves, their company or their product to be interesting. As I told my team in the call center, your name is not an attention-getter. No one knew you before you call, and they’ll probably forget you 10 minutes after you end it. If you want to be interesting to other people, be interested in them. So, be different. Use the prospect’s name to get their attention.
You can find additional ideas on opening your call by getting your prospect’s attention here.
Show Them That They are Important to You
Share what you know about them: verify their title; compliment them on something that they have achieved; make a statement about their industry that they may not know. Find a way to tactfully display your knowledge of them and their issues. It shows them that you consider the relationship important.
Ask a Question Bearing on Time
People are busy and chances are always good that an unexpected call will catch someone in the middle of an activity. Now if you left a previous message stating that you were going to call at the designated time and they were expecting your call, ask them how much time they have set aside to talk. I hammered this point so often when developing my call center that to this day, my director of technology continues to ask at the start of our meetings, “How much time you got for us?”
Ask a question related to their time constraints. Your prospect will appreciate the fact that you cared enough to ask.
Tell Them Why You Called
This is the general benefit that you supply to their industry. Remember that you can’t make a claim about their specific situation until you can perform a diagnostic session with them. However, you can state some of the benefits that you have supplied other clients in that industry. If you have examples or testimonials, this would be a good time to roll them out.
Don’t Make Promises
When we first started selling training over the phone, my team faced a lot of challenges. One of the biggest challenges was that my team of fresh college grads was calling older, seasoned business owners and making statements like “we can improve your business by X%” or “we can add Y% to your bottom line.” These were college grads! They had no real-world experience and no credibility. So naturally their “pitch” came off like it was being read from a note card. Instead of reading your script from your cards, tell your prospects about the results your product or service obtained for your current customers and that you may be able to do the same for them. But you won’t have a good idea until you can sit down with them for a diagnostic session.
Remember, you don’t know the specifics of their environment or circumstances. So don’t make broad claims and promises until you’ve had a chance to review their situation.
Run Your Trial Close
Ask them if they have time for some more questions or if they are open to a face-to-face meeting. You always want to use a trial close. This tells you if the prospect or client is open to advancing in the sales process.
Adaptability, Flexibility, and Awareness are Key Elements in Cold Calling
Remember, these are guidelines to include in your general process for opening a cold call. Your goal is to get to the next stage of your process.
Also, remember that no two people are alike. Adapt and arrange these guidelines in your process in response to your individual prospect’s needs and expectations. Stay aware of what your prospect is saying and doing to fully leverage the power of these ideas in your process.
Adaptability, flexibility and awareness are necessary elements for success. Dump the rigid track of using a script when cold calling and prospecting. If you have these elements at your disposal, you will be free to make adjustments as you move the sale forward and you will move more prospects into your pipeline.
For additional insights into prospecting and cold calling, pick up a copy of Selling is an Away Game, available online at Amazon, fine bookstores and many Hudson News locations.
And if you are attending the Sports Sales Training Forum at this year’s ALSD conference, make sure to attend Allison Schuller’s training session to learn additional techniques for effective prospecting.