Nearly everyone I know balks at cold calling, at least initially. We know we’re going to face a higher rate of rejection than if we were pitching to folks predisposed to want our product, and no one enjoys feeling like a failure. But here’s the thing: If you need new customers, then you need to train yourself to cold call effectively.
And here’s a secret little bonus: cold calling may end up being more effective that you thought it might because so few people do it. If you can make yourself stand out from the crowd, you’ve already got an advantage. So get your call list, find yourself a quiet space, and pick up the telephone. You’re about to round up new clients with these winning techniques.
1. Do your homework. One thing I’ve found useful is to determine how many of my customers currently get cold calls. As it turns out, not many of my competitors make them, so I know there are opportunities out there. Whether you take a look at geographical areas you’re currently underserving or simply look for a larger share of the area you’re in, start making your list of folks who need your services.
2. Be ready to leave a voicemail. Odds are slim that anyone you call will actually answer, so have your introduction ready to go. You want to sound warm, authentic, and enthusiastic. Your goal in your first call isn’t to cash a check. It’s to start a relationship.
3. Don’t ask for a call back. If your prospect feels like you’re trying to push them, they’re unlikely to actually call you back. It’s far more effective to leave your name and number and let your prospective clients know when you plan to call them back. Persistence is key to cold calls, so you’re not finished once you’ve reached out the first time!
4. Leave your personal number. Not only is it actually more productive to move to a single stream for your phone calls, but it also sends the important message that your prospect’s business matters to you personally.
5. Call after hours. Especially if you have a long list of prospects, you may be able to speed up the voicemail-leaving process if the extensions or mobile numbers you’re calling go automatically to voicemail after business hours.
6. Follow up via social media. One of my favorite strategies is to leave a voicemail and then head to Facebook or Twitter and send a quick message letting my prospects know I’ve reached out by phone. I get increasing numbers of folks who respond via social media, as it feels less sales-y, and it’s handled at their convenience.
7. Don’t give up. Now don’t go into restraining order territory. There is certainly a point at which it’s clear your prospect isn’t interested. One thing I love to do is – after a few unreturned calls – to ask my prospect to call me back if they’re not interested. Sometimes all I need is fifteen seconds of their time to get them to understand just how much I can help them.
Most importantly, don’t fear the cold call. It may feel awkward at first, but it’s definitely a skill that improves with practice.
Mike Michalowicz (pronounced mi-KAL-o-wits) started his first business at the age of 24, moving his young family to the only safe place he could afford – a retirement building. With no experience, no contacts and no savings he systematically bootstrapped a multi-million dollar business. Then he did it again. And again. Now he is doing it for other entrepreneurs. Mike is the CEO of Provendus Group, a consulting firm that ignites explosive growth in companies that have plateaued; is a former small business columnist for The Wall Street Journal; is MSNBC’s business make-over expert; is a keynote speaker on entrepreneurship; and is the author of the cult classic book, The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur. His newest book, The Pumpkin Plan has already been called “the next E-myth!”