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Issue April 2003                               "Keeping Businesses Moving Towards Success"

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How To Improve Your Cold Calling Results

A cold call is a personal visit or telephone call to somebody you don't know, or know only slightly, for the purpose of selling that person something. The thing about cold calling is that it's a form of personal, not mass, marketing. It requires a one-to-one physical presence or telepresence. 

There aren't many sales people out there who like cold calling but sometimes there is just no other way of getting in front of potential customers you don't know. Cold calling is a necessary part of selling; if you want to grow your business, you have to contact new prospects. The process becomes easier once you practice what you plan to say, map out your prospects and learn how to handle their objections or rejection. Here are proven techniques you can use to turn your cold calls into hot sales:

First you need to select a target market and be as specific as you can. The key to effective cold calling is identifying the right prospects before you call.  Before picking up the phone, it is vital to understand what your ideal customer profile looks like. Many salespeople make the mistake of starting too high or too low within an organization. And, many salespeople approach companies that just aren't a "fit" for the products or services they're trying to sell. Rather than randomly selecting names from the phone book, target individuals who have an interest in your product or service and the money to buy it. Who are the key decision makers as it relates to your product or service? Do you understand how purchases are made within the target company?  Be sure to research, research, research.

Overcome your fear of cold calling. Turn it into a positive motivator.  Rather than thinking about the rejection you might experience calling a stranger, think about the potential business you could gain by making the call.  Additionally, make cold calls when you feel the freshest and most energized. For most people, that's at the beginning of the business day. Think of the call as a friendly conversation.

Create a solid opener. For many people, the first few sentences of a cold call are the hardest. No matter how well-executed, a cold call is an unscheduled interruption, and your prospect will make a quick decision in just the first few seconds concerning whether it's worth his or her time. That's why you need to be prepared with a opener that includes an introduction of yourself and your company and an opening benefit to the prospect. Prospects aren't interested in what your product or service is (it's features); they're interested in what it will do for them (it's benefits). That's why it's critical you talk in terms of benefits to your prospect.

Use a script. Cold call scripts need four things: surprise (because this is the first time you have talked with the prospect), angle (a relationship between your product and their product i.e., need), enthusiasm and urgency. You must have these in every pitch. Once you have your prospect's attention, ask specific questions to learn more about what your prospect wants and how you can fulfill his or her expectations. To effectively qualify prospects and uncover their needs, you must learn to ask great questions and be a good listener to find out their needs.

Follow-up communications to the prospect.  If the prospect asks you to schedule a follow up call, be sure to call them at the time they asked you to.  If you speak with them when they it is more convenient, they will be more receptive to your call.

Be Persistent.  Remember: it can take a lot of contacts to make a sale, and that a "no" doesn't mean "no, never", it means "no, not just now".  Eighty percent of new sales are made after the fifth contact, yet the majority of salespeople give up after the second call. Follow up and keep calling. Persistence pays off.

Final words: If you're still anxious about picking up the phone, just think about the process of cold calling one step at a time. At the end of the day, it's a numbers game. If you target properly, have a valid business reason for making the call, and respect the time of your prospects - you're much more likely to experience success.


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*Article by Patricia Kopp.  Visit www.creativeBUSINESSworks.com for more original content on marketing tips, sales strategies and business success.
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