How to Warm Up to Cold Calls in the New Year
very small percentage of sales professionals actually enjoy making cold calls, especially today, in an era of email, chatbots, and text messaging. In fact, 48% of salespeople are afraid to pick up the phone to even make cold calls.
It’s no surprise — people are rarely excited to receive a call from someone they’ve never heard of. But, ultimately, it can be an effective sales tactic. And it’s still relevant, even today.
The reality is that 92% of all customer interactions still happen over the phone, and 78% of decision-makers have agreed to an appointment or attended an event that came from a cold call. If you’re not making cold calls on a regular basis, then you’re going to find yourself staring down a cold sales pipeline.
In the New Year, have you resolved to change your attitude about cold calling? In this article, we share some tips for shifting your mindset, so you can actually look forward to cold calling and ultimately close more sales.
Research your prospects before you call them
One of the biggest misconceptions about cold calling is that it involves calling a stranger. Thanks to digital tools like social media and Google, we can research anyone before we actually meet them. Use this to your advantage! The amount of data you can pull on customers and would-be customers has never been higher, or more useful.
Take the time to learn a thing or two about each prospect before you reach out to him or her. LinkedIn is excellent for this — not only does a LinkedIn profile give you plenty of clues on how the person does business (and what business they’re in), you can usually find their school, their interests, and even hobbies and opinions about common topics all in one place. You might discover that you have something in common – like sharing an alma mater, rooting for the same sports team, or enjoying a passion for fine wine.
Facebook or Twitter are both smart channels for information-gathering, too. You can do a quick scan for their vacations, favorite movies, books they’ve read, or concerts they rave about. The pages and people they follow, the comedians that make them laugh and the politicians that drive them crazy. If you can’t find something in common, you’re probably not looking hard enough.
Now you have a reason to look forward to speaking to this person and making a personal connection!
Commit to listening
When making cold calls, many salespeople immediately start with the pitch, and they don’t take the time to ask the prospect about his or her problems and concerns. This can set off consumer alarm bells — consumers have never been more savvy about robo calls, nor more irritated by them. Trying to enter the conversation with the idea of prying open their wallets could have the opposite effect.
Instead, trying introducing yourself and then asking some open-ended questions. Instead of “how long have you been in business,” try something like “why did you get into this business?” You’re more likely to draw out a more personal anecdote, which people are usually happy to share. If you’d rather go right for a pain point, maybe ask “what’s keeping your business from reaching its goals?”
Another great question is “what do you wish could be different about X,” where X is whatever solution or product you might be able to help this person with.
Take the time to get to know your prospect and then listen carefully, writing down notes when appropriate. But don’t try to burn through all of your questions in a line, or ignore context. If the potential customer’s answer to a previous question takes the conversation in a new direction, don’t worry to much about steering it back to your script. Instead, listen and see if their answer springboards into another question. The best interviewers use this technique — prep your questions, but don’t feel chained to them.
This approach will take the pressure off of you, so you don’t have to spend the entire conversation talking, and it will also gives you a chance to develop a genuine connection with your prospect and set yourself apart.
Imagine how it feels to close the deal
Before you even pick up the phone, imagine how it would feel to convert this prospect into a customer. Y
You’re already familiar with the positive feeling of meeting your sales goals, so you can try to conjure that feeling within yourself before you start your next cold call. That way, you will be enthusiastic and pass that energy along to your prospect. Then before you know it you’ll be passing the lead right down on down the sales pipeline.
Cold calling may not be easy, but the best salespeople feel positive about doing it. They know that it plays an essential role in helping them meet their sales goals, so they take steps to embrace it.
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