Does cold calling give you the shivers? If it does you’re far from alone. In fact, the anxiety and fear that can so often be felt when tasked with cold calling is in no way exclusive - even the most seasoned sales pros get the jitters.
Truth is, cold calling is an essential element of the sales process, and when undertaken with confidence and authority it can be one of the most successful selling tools too.
How do you go from stage fright to success? Follow these five simple points and you’ll be heading towards cold calling heaven. Or, at the very least you’ll be giving yourself the very best opportunity to successfully make sales.
1. Organisation and preparation
Whether face to face or via the telephone, the biggest secret of cold calling success is in the planning. Yes, you know your product or service backwards but it really is essential to get to know your target audience that well too.
The rule of thumb here is, the effort you put in will be directly proportionate to the results you get out. Research your prospects fully. Pay attention to who they are, what their needs are and how what you’re selling can benefit them.
2. Segregate your contact list
A simple single list of prospects is easy to draw up but to get the most from your contacts the best thing you can do is create individual lists based on type and demographics. For example, categorise contacts under headings like construction industry, teachers, service sector, lollipop ladies - whatever.
The advantage of doing this is what I call the morphing effect. In principle, this means that when you talk to people in specific groups your sales approach will naturally become more refined as you adapt selling techniques to suit each individual sector. Consequently, your chances of success will improve too.
3. Train, rehearse, drill
The final and arguably most important part of your preparation is to train, rehearse and drill yourself so that you are perfectly in shape to make that call or knock on that door and meet and greet your potential new customer.
One pre-scripted presentation will not do. Customers will see you coming from a mile off and will quickly mark you down as insincere. Best to have a rough outline and rehearse various ways of saying the same thing that can appeal to different character types or markets.
4. Making the approach
This is what it’s all about - selling. You’ve prepared your list of contacts, broken them down into categories and prepared and rehearsed your outline presentation to each (not one script for all). Now there’s just the small matter of making - and hopefully closing – that sale.
As a summary of the sales process, regardless of who you’re pitching to, your sale will go through three definable steps:
- Step one is introduction and permission – where you tell your prospect why you’re calling and ask for the go-ahead to tell them more.
- Step two is the short story – where you tell your prospect about what you’re offering and identify the features that will most likely fulfil their needs.
- Step three? Well, you’ve got this far so make the sale!
5. What to avoid
You’ll know this, of course, but it’s well worth recapping on some of the pitfalls of a presentation so that you can consciously avoid them during your cold calling.
In principle, don’t use over simplistic statements or generalisations, avoid comparing yourself to the competition, don’t ask questions that can lead to your prospect saying no and importantly, don’t be too pushy or too focused on making that sale. Listen often – and be seen to be listening. You want the prospect on your side and this works wonders.
The art of great selling is research, preparation, rehearsal and finally delivery. If you’re getting cold feet at cold calling, use the few basic principles listed above as a checklist. Through proper organisation your nerves and apprehensions will have subsided and the real you, the confident masterful sales pro, can now click into place. Good luck!
By Doug Tucker, Managing Director of Sales Commando, an international sales training organisation. His motto is 'Have fun. Make money' and you can too! More sales techniques, advice and tips can be found in Doug Tucker’s book ‘Sales Commando, Unleash Your Potential’. The book gets straight to the heart of issues, complexities and opportunities and encourages and accelerates personal growth and sales success.