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How to Cold-Call Successfully

October 4, 2011

It’s an occasional necessity of business that you’ll need to call somebody without them expecting it, which is the very definition of cold-calling.

You’ll probably be trying to get some money out of them, so you should expect to be rebuffed quite regularly, and often quite aggressively too – a thick skin is the first step towards becoming a successful cold-caller.

Make the Call

It’s easy to put off making that first call, but the longer you wait, the more nervous you’ll have chance to become.

Simply pick up the phone and dial – it can be that easy – and you’ve taken the first step towards success.

Be realistic in your expectations – if you’re not confident about landing an order over the phone, don’t try, but instead use the call as a chance to double-check on names, address details and so on.

If you’re making a courtesy call rather than an obvious sales pitch, it’s more likely that the person you call will be willing to speak to you – and you can gain some valuable information to help you with future sales communications by email, post or telephone.

Know What to Say

Although you’re cold-calling, you should still do the necessary warm-up exercises, and that might even mean rehearsing your opening pitch.

Even if you don’t plan it word for word, you’ll probably want to cover the basics:

  • who you are
  • why you’re calling
  • what you’re offering

If you know the details of your product (and if it’s a good product) you should be better able to demonstrate to your listener how it can help them – and you should welcome questions or comments from them too, as they’re more likely to be interested if they’re engaged in the conversation.

Don’t Blow It

Imagine walking up to somebody in a bar and saying hello – you’d probably be able to tell pretty quickly whether they were interested in talking to you or not.

Just because you’re speaking over the phone, it doesn’t mean you can’t look out for those same warning signs.

You’ve got just a few seconds to make a good impression, so try to sound natural, not rehearsed (even if you’ve rehearsed every word), let your listener speak if they want to, and actually pay attention to what they say.

If your product or service clearly isn’t something they want or need, it may be better to thank them for their time and move on, rather than wasting time trying to coax them into making a purchase, and leaving them with a negative impression of your company.

Stay Positive

We’ve all suffered through calls from bored-sounding commission-only call centre staff; they’re uninspiring and generally ineffective.

Make it clear that you’re not one of those – be upbeat, and chatty if appropriate. Talk to your listener, not at them, and let them respond if they choose to.

Use open-ended questions to avoid one-word answers, and respect your listener’s privacy if there’s something they’d prefer not to tell you.

If you say the right things (including saying nothing when it’s appropriate to do so), you’re already headed in the right direction.