How to Avoid the Cold-Call “Ick Factor”
“You had me at ‘Hello.'” This adorable exchange worked for Tom Cruise and Renee Zellweger in Jerry Maguire. When it comes to cold calling? Not quite the same result.
Cold calling can be a tough sell–just ask the credit card company representative you hung up on yesterday. On average, only 0.3% of cold calls end in a sales appointment. Even if you make it past the introduction, there are so many ways to go wrong. Spending too much time on pleasantries, failing to represent your product as an effective solution, and neglecting to answer your prospect’s questions fully are just a few common mistakes.
Luckily, all of this is well within your control. Here’s how you can overcome the worst of cold calling–and overcome the odds.
Call at the right time.
It’s difficult to land a conversation if you’re calling during peak business hours, when everyone’s likely to be in meetings or hard at work and unable to take a call. Do research on your target prospects and figure out when you’re most likely to reach them–for instance, if they use Twitter, when are they tweeting? That will help you find the times they’re most likely to be available to chat.
Understand the best target.
If you aren’t snagging the right ear, you might as well stay home. Prioritize your prospects. These are the people who are the most likely to be interested in a conversation, because your product is directly in line with their needs. They have demonstrated interest in solving a problem by downloading whitepapers, signing up for newsletters, or attending conference sessions–all of which are in line with your solution. When you target the person, not just the company, you’re more likely to get a friendly ear. If you’ve really done your research, you’ll be able to demonstrate that you aren’t just offering a solution, but a valuable partnership.
When you target the person, not just the company, you’re more likely to get a friendly ear.
Don’t waste time.
Your potential client’s time is valuable, so don’t waste it. Get right to the point and tell your prospect who you are, why you’re calling, and how you can help solve a problem. Keep your greeting pleasant, but short–you only get your prospect’s attention once, so don’t lose it with unnecessary chatter. Being concise is the key to moving the conversation forward.
Address your prospect’s pain points right away.
Make it a point to research every prospect thoroughly. Know his brand, his pain points, and how you can help him. Don’t call and expect to ask him these questions–you should know who he is before you pick up the phone. Impress him by showing that you care about solving his problems, and that you know what he needs.
Know your product and stand behind it.
Be an expert and know what you’re selling. One of the biggest deciding factors of a cold-call outcome is how confident you are as a salesperson. Know how your product compares to the competition and why it’s the right choice. You should be able to tell your prospect about specific features that directly address pain points. Avoid rattling off a cookie-cutter list of features and tell your prospect only what he needs to know. This strengthens your case and avoids information overload, which can end a sale before it begins.
Utilize just-in-time content during the conversation.
You can spend valuable hours preparing for one cold call, only to be stumped by a complicated question. When you hesitate in response to a question, you lose the sale, and that’s another wasted opportunity. Avoid hesitation by utilizing just-in-time content to search for specific answers to complicated questions in seconds. Having the right reference materials on hand can be the difference between the conversation ending or continuing. You can also offer to email resources to your prospect right while you talk, to help her dig deeper into the solutions that your company can offer.
Be an expert and know what you’re selling. One of the biggest deciding factors of a cold-call outcome is how confident you are as a salesperson.
Cold calling isn’t easy, but with the right approach, it can hold high stakes value. Take the time to prepare adequately for each call and refine your approach to improve your odds. Cold calling might be a numbers game, but that doesn’t mean that your only option is to crunch through call after call and hope for the best. Arm yourself with just-in-time content to get through the toughest conversations, and follow up promptly with online resources to help you seal the deal.