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Top five tips to juice up your cold calls

Plus a bonus!


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If you’re in the cold calling business, picking up the phone can be one of the hardest things you do.  Dial after dial and rejection after rejection can leave you feeling defeated and demotivated.  It’s no wonder people burn out on cold calling in a relatively short time. You need more than rhinoceros skin. You need a magic bag of tricks to keep you motivated and successful.  Here are some of my favorite tools to juice up my dialing day.  Enjoy:

One: Don’t Sell – Discover

Too often I see teleprospecting newbies get off to the wrong start by focusing on “sales.”  They see quotas and listen to sales managers talk about the “bottom line,” and this just sets them up for defeat.  You are highly UNlikely to close most sales by telephone—especially if you’re selling something complex.  If you start your call focused on the close, you’ll lose your way fast, and will probably lose the trust and interest of your prospect. 

I like to change my mindset, by thinking of myself more as a detective or hunter than a sales guy.  I use Discovery Calling to unveil information and opportunity rather than shoving a me-focused message onto unwilling ears.  Ask question after question in an open-ended way, and I think each call you make will provide great information, which is much more rewarding than the bleak rejection of a “no.”

Two: Wrong Name, Right Title

Before any call I make, I research the prospect’s website.  This is a basic step that many teleprospectors forget, yet is incredibly helpful in successful dialing.  By using the names I find on the site, I can either ask for the right person, or give the right title that I’m searching for with another manager’s name.

For example, let’s say I’m looking for the director of IT, but his or her name isn’t available on the company website.  However the CFO is named Jordan Bills.  I ask the receptionist/gatekeeper to speak to the IT director, Jordan Bills.  He or she will inevitably “correct” me, which gives me the information I want when calling back later.

Three: Deliver that Email Address

Often, the person I’m looking for is in a meeting or away from their desk.  I ask for the email address and frequently am met with, “it’s against company policy to hand out that kind of information.” Many teleprospectors allow this to put an end to the call.  Not me.

“I understand,” I’ll reply. “But perhaps you can forward an email if I send it to you?” More often than not, the gatekeeper is willing to share his/her own email and I can push my message through them.

Four: Follow Up Actions

I could weep with frustration at people who call themselves professional teleprospectors, but who don’t understand that the phone is just one tool in their arsenal.  Follow up is hugely important.  One of my favorite follow up tools is the handwritten note.  I jot a few words that remind my prospect what we talked about, and often throw in a coffee card as a thank you.  This may not result in them picking up the phone, but you can bet your next call in will be met much more warmly than your first call.

Five: Tell Me You Don’t Love Me

There are the ever-elusive prospects out there for every teleprospector.  I think of them as the big game that hunters of old pursued.  I dial, send messages, invite them to lunch-and-learns and still they hide behind corporate walls and gatekeepers, unwilling to share a few minutes with a good person like me.

When this happens, I write one last email that says something like, “if I’m not welcome, send me an email that says STOP soliciting me, and you won’t hear from me again.”  Yes, you will lose some prospects this way, but the end result is good no matter what.  If they say “stop,” you can remove them from the marketing list and stop wasting your time.  You can show your manager you’ve done a good job, but this prospect is not in a sales timeframe.  If they don’t answer or reply that they’re busy right now, you have a distinct action plan, and more knowledge about your prospect.

BONUS: Get to Know the Gatekeeper

Gatekeepers, those poor souls whose thankless job is to keep people like you from reaching your goals, are intricately involved with teleprospecting.  I refer to these people as “Alice the Gatekeeper,” in order to maintain sympathy for the person behind my rejections.  Next article, I’ll do an “interview” with my imaginary friend, Alice, so that you can think about ways to work with her instead of setting up the non-productive adversarial relationship that often exists between gatekeepers and teleprospecting pros.

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Sam Dobbins

Sam Dobbins is the founder and president of the Cold Call King, A Sales Development Consulting Firm, formed in 2004.  Learn more at www.coldcallking.com. And reach the Cold Call King at sam@coldcallking.com or (303) 954-8553.

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