Cold Calling for New Business? It's A Numbers Game
In something not totally marketing related, I'm going to talk to you about cold-calling because a lot you loyal Social Lites are entrepreneurs and cold-calling is how you drum up new business. I don’t think anybody actually likes cold calling. If you do, shoot me an e-mail and you can write this blog post over. I didn’t understand how difficult it could be until I started working full time in sales in the recruiting world. Nobody answered my phone calls, nobody called me back, and nobody was interested. I thought the sales gods had finally given me my karma from when I did a short stint as a telemarketer. That was until I found out that cold-calling is definitely a numbers game. You may have to reach out to 300 contacts before you secure a customer or 3 meetings but if you secure one, you can secure others. As difficult as it may be, it’s a necessary function in growing your business. You can send an e-mail, you can send messages on LinkedIn, but you will eventually have to call. Here’s how I warmed up to cold calling with 5 simple tips:
I know, I know. You think it’s impossible and you’re rolling your eyes at my use of “simple.’’ Success in cold calling is in all of us. You can do this!
1) Mentally prepare yourself. You have to start your work day visualizing the call going great and ending with the possibility of new business. Don’t look at it as cold calling but instead, look at it as introducing yourself and your company. You’re not selling anything at this point- you’re just getting to know each other.
2) Learn the basics about the company before you call: What do they do? Where are they located? Who will you contact there? What is their title? Is this the right person to call? What are some possible issues they may have that your company can solve? What is the purpose of the conversation? If your companies are based in the same area, that’s something you can bring up in the conversation. If you’re affiliated with the same organizations, use that as well. It’s all about doing your homework and making a connection. A great tool for this is also LinkedIn. You can find almost anyone at any company by doing a quick search and connecting with them. They may not respond back, but at least you’ll know who to contact. From there, if you get that person on the phone you can bring up that you previously reached out to them and that can be your opener.
3) Ask questions about them. This is not about you. Have you ever been pursued by someone and they could NOT stop talking about themselves? They didn’t ask any questions about your background or your interests, and they just went on and on about their life, their job, their ex-girlfriend/boyfriend....
Well your prospects, are people. They have emotions just like you do. When you call, ask questions about their company that don’t result in a “yes” or “no” (and if they do, ask them to elaborate). You want to get to know them because the more they speak, the more material you have to counter with. If you talk about yourself too much, you’ll get off of the phone and realize you don’t know anything new about them or their company and most likely, they’ll avoid all interaction with you moving forward. This is why telemarketers get hung up on so often (Trust me, I know.)
4) Provide an action item. Introducing yourself is one thing but if you end the call with just an introduction, it will stay there. End the conversation expressing that you’d love to meet with them for a quick meeting or coffee (your treat!) to hear more about their company and see how you can work together. Even if they’re not interested in doing business with you, they may refer you to someone else.
5) Follow up after the phone call. If they need time to look over their schedule for a meeting, give it a week or and circle back around if they haven't gotten back to you. If they just aren’t interested, take a couple of weeks and reach out to them offering something other than your services. Maybe you want to share an event that’s happening in the area or there’s a cool webinar they might be interested in. Keep the connection going. Most business opportunities are lost by not following up. Even in person- a lot of times you’ll have a great conversation with someone and then send a follow-up suggesting you meet. Days go by, you don’t get a response and you’re wondering what happened? “Was it something I did? Something I said? You don’t call, you don’t write…” Most likely, they either forgot to reach back out to you or they just don’t want to talk to you. Don’t take it personal. After all, people hate sales tactics being pushed in their faces. But the worst you can do is not follow-up. Always follow-up, send a thank you, keep the connection.
In the end, it’s not that bad. Show your personality, be genuine and genuinely interested, and be prepared. I’ll leave you to your cold calling lists (I mean, introductions). If you have any more tips on what has worked for you, comment below! Happy calling :)