Regardless what people think or say, cold calling isn’t going away. It’s here to stay because it makes good, practical business sense. What better way to schedule meetings, prospect, close deals, and ultimately save time than picking up the phone and making it happen? E-mail? Too soft, and far easy for the prospect to hit delete. Face-to-face meetings are still the best way to close deals, but the salesperson is limited by the number per day (three or four?). And, of course, many of those face-to-face meetings are the results of … yes, cold calling.
The phone allows the salesperson to work more quickly and efficiently, to move all over the country—212 to 415—in no time at all. The conversations are shorter than with the face-to-face meeting, and they’re more personal than a cold e-mail.
The problem with cold calling is that is has a negative connotation. Just the sound of those words makes people freeze or conjure up bad thoughts—no, no, no, rejection, rejection, rejection. But smart companies—some of which may have several inside sales divisions—understand that cold calling is a vital tool in generating more revenue. They know that if practiced properly, cold calling benefits the organization and the individual—and it doesn’t have to be all gloom and doom. With creative leadership cold calling can be fun. Remember, it’s people — not the furniture — that create environment. If you have unimaginative, emotionally disengaged stiffs running your inside sales teams then there’s a a good chance that the office will reverberate with negativity when it comes to making dials, hence you’ll have fewer deals at the end of the day.
Getting the most out of cold calling doesn’t have to be difficult, but there are a few important things to keep in mind before picking up the phone.
Having a sense of urgency. The cold caller must have a sense of urgency otherwise he’s going to get hung up more frequently. The inside salesperson needs to be upbeat, serious, and businesslike when talking to Shirley the Gatekeeper or Bill the Decision Maker. A casual, chatty, overfriendly manner will help you get past Shirley but it won’t help you close Bill. Be serious and remember this is your call, your time. Take control of the call.
Calling the decision maker. A salesperson can make 150 calls a day but he’s wasting his time if he’s not calling the individual who can sign the contract. The sooner you ask the better.
Making the dials. 125-150 dials. The chances are very slim that you’ll reach the right people with anything less than 100 dials.
Asking for referrals. If you don’t ask you’ve wasted time and an opportunity.
Dwelling on a bad call. Don’t! Move on. Short-term memory loss is a great thing to have if you’re in sales.
Asking for the deal. Always! That’s why you’re making the call in the first place.
Cold calling is all about how you approach it. If you approach it from a negative point of view the number daily dials will eat you up and spit you out. If you look at it in simple, positive light (more revenue for the company, more money for the salesperson) and stay within the basic parameters (dials, urgency, decision maker, referrals, asking for the deal) it can be a fun and rewarding experience. But it’s all about perception, just like sales itself.