Mastering the art of the cold call can help you pursue a lifelong career in sales.
Regardless of industry, if you can become successful at cold calling, you can find higher-paying sales positions selling software, medical device and pharmaceutical products.
Continuous growth, however, will require you to learn, develop and improve your skills in real-time. College graduates with degrees in sales or those new to the industry should use each phone call – good or bad – as a learning experience.
It can be difficult to find your motivation for cold calling. However, if you make a plan, practice and remain positive, cold calling can work for you and help advance your career. It doesn’t have to be intimidating. What it does have to be is planned.
Developing a pre-sales call plan will help you overcome call hesitation, boost your confidence and feel comfortable on the phone. Having a plan will help you chart out the course for the call: your objective, questions for the potential client, needs you hope to uncover and which solutions will best meet them. You’ll also have anticipated what you’ll need to ask to get the prospect’s commitment. Your plan ensures you have a purpose for your call, so that you move the process forward to achieve the sale.
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These five steps will give you tools and insights to make your pre-sales call plan effective:
1. Research your prospects. The better a sense you have of them, the more informed your sales strategy will be and the more likely you’ll be to connect. It’s information easily found on social media sites like LinkedIn and Twitter. When researching your prospect, find out who their clients and competitors are. Ask yourself, “How does your prospect’s industry work?” It’s also helpful to know developments at the individual’s organization that spell a need for your offering. In addition to gathering company and industry insights, learn more about who you will be calling. What are the person’s work credentials and experience? Don’t forget to check relationships you might have in common. Of course, you’ll also want all the prospect’s points of contact and gatekeepers’ names to help break the ice.
2. Script a strong door opener. You need to make an impression and set yourself apart from the average cold caller – and you have 10 seconds to do it. It needs to be strong, where you introduce yourself, but make it all about your prospect. This is where your research comes in to make things personal. For example, you can reference a recent unveiling of a new product or awards given by local or national business associations.
3. Overcome your reluctance. Any number of factors can make you reluctant to dial, whether it’s the negative image of salespeople you just can’t shake or you’re just not ready. And some people just don’t have what it takes. You can turn that timidity around by reframing your fear with an outward focus on value and considering how your product or service will help your potential client. Also, remember that not everything should rest on the outcome. Find positives in every call that help move the process forward.
4. Ask open-ended questions. This is the only way to create the kind of two-sided conversation that cold calling’s all about. That happens when you elicit a response by asking who, what, where, when, why and how. Even better if your words and tone of voice are warm and authentically friendly and caring. Remember, you’re speaking to someone you have never met before over the phone; they won’t be able to see your facial expressions or body cues, which makes tone of voice vital in keeping someone’s interest and moving the conversation forward.
5. Let rejection motivate you. This is hard. No one likes rejection and it can actually hurt. Rejection activates the same area of the brain as physical pain. As a result, when we dwell on those memories, those same feelings resurface. It can be a difficult cycle to pull yourself out of. However, reframing the focus of the call can help you turn rejection into more positive terms that could move you one step closer to yes.