Cold calling has always been equated with the phone — and that’s certainly still true. The telephone is still the primary tool used in cold calling because, while there are many ways to reach out to prospects, at some point, you do need to speak with them.
But it’s important to use a combination of all the tools and communication outlets available in order to generate more qualified appointments and opportunities. That means using social media in conjunction with your phone calling. People don’t answer their phones the way they used to, which has become a bigger and bigger challenge. That’s why it’s also vitally important to use voicemail and email. It is also important to research and gain insights into your market and prospects to make your introductions, voicemails, emails, and conversations better. So, it’s bad news and good news. It’s harder to reach people, but there are many more ways to reach them.
If you believe in the value of whatever you’re offering, then you have a moral obligation to let the appropriate prospects know about it.
I’m using the word “appropriate.” Don’t just call anyone and say anything. It’s important to do your homework to reach out to the appropriate types of prospects. By reaching out, you’re actually helping them. Part of a decision-maker’s job is to know what other resources might be available. You’re helping those decision makers by providing an education about the landscape of possibilities with the best value, price, service, or whatever it is they may need.
Cold calling is most often framed as “love it or hate it.” Supposedly most sales professionals hate it. They think they just have to grit their teeth and get through it.
The truth is you don’t have to absolutely love cold calling to do it and be successful. It’s a business process and a way of generating leads and opportunities in order to create potential sales. The opposite of hating cold calling isn’t loving it. You want to be neutral and not experience an emotional reaction so you can go about the task in an effective and winning way.
As I mentioned earlier, it’s true that people are not answering their phones the way they used to. Twenty years ago, everybody answered their phones. But today it’s very different.
Step one is being very, very targeted about who you are trying to reach. Sometimes people term cold calling as opening up a phone book and calling anyone. That’s stupid calling — not cold calling.
The onus can’t be just on the sales reps. Sales managers must have a very specific definition of what constitutes a qualified prospect. That’s really where it starts. For example, in one of the programs that I’m teaching right now, we go through an exercise of helping sales managers define what makes a qualified prospect for them.
I recently worked with a client and asked him for his definition of the ideal prospect and how many employees that prospect might have. He said anywhere from 10 to 5,000. There’s no way a salesperson can say the same thing to someone who has 10 employees and someone that has 5,000 employees. Know your target and tailor your message accordingly.
Remember that your homework needs to happen before you ever get on the phone. As I mentioned in the beginning, ballet was my first career. If you’re a dancer, you don’t just run out on stage and start dancing. You warm up, because if you don’t, you’re going to get hurt. Professional athletes do the same thing. So should sales reps.
The warmup for making cold calls consists of, first, targeting the right types of prospects and, then, creating the messaging and scripts that are going to resonate with that audience. Know how you’re going to answer a prospect’s challenges in a particular market, how you can help them, and how they discuss it in their own language. Nobody cares what you do or what you sell. But they do care about how you are going to help solve their problems. That’s where the message in the cold call can truly make an impact — for both you and the customer.
“Nobody cares what you do or what you sell. But they do care about how you are going to help solve their problems.”