I was recently interviewed by Inc Magazine on the topic of cold calling. Darren Dahl put together a great article on tips and techniques for improving cold calling success (see article here >> How to Improve Your Cold Calling).
As an extension to the article, I have added some additional tips since our projects often involve advising our clients on how to drive sales, particularly for the smaller companies. Here is some of the advice on cold calling we would give to a small business owner/operated company.
1. Schedule Cold Calls – Set a target number of calls per week and book time every day to make a portion of the calls – this will create rhythm and the calling habit – don’t procrastinate, just do it – the more calls you make the easier it gets.
2. Target the Ideal Prospects – Rather than shotgun the phone book from A to Z identify the top ten ideal accounts (or 50 if that is more appropriate) and focus your calls on penetrating these accounts by any means possible – either cold calling the buyer or anyone who will take your call and then trying to get referrals to the right person
3. Call with Customer Research in Mind – Don’t just call and hard pitch, because everyone hates to have their day interrupted by a sales call. Instead try think beforehand what challenges the prospect is dealing with and then use the call to collect insight, validate your assumptions, share insight about what solutions exist and what might work for them.
4. Have a Script – Identify a list of several meaningful and probing questions that will stimulate a conversation and allow you to develop a relationship
5. Call Early and Call Late – The best times to call are early or late when buyers are less busy and more likely to answer their own phone
6. Develop a Relationship – People buy from people and they buy more from people they like, so don’t be the cheesy or pushy self-interested and insincere salesperson
7. Establish a Marketing Engine – invest in lead gen programs so that some of the outbound calls are more warm than cold
Eliot received his B. Comm. from Carleton University and has been honored as a Top 40 Under 40 Award winner.
He co-authored Sales Recruiting 2.0, How to Find Top Performing Sales People, Fast and provides regular insights on sales team management and hiring on the Peak Sales Recruiting Blog.
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