Sales & Marketing

Gold In Cold Calls

Who likes to make cold calls? Nobody. And yet cold calls are crucial to your business. If you're having trouble corralling new clients and dislike making cold calls, it may be time to rethink your telephone strategy. Believe it or not, cold-calling can be fun if you play it like a game. Here are some tips to take the drudgery out of cold-calling:

  • Be prepared. Know what you want to say before you get on the phone, write it down, and keep it handy. This could consist of a short description of your company and its products or services. You should be able to describe your business in such a way that people become interested and want to know more.

  • Have a goal in mind. The goal may be to get an in-person meeting, to make a sale, or just to learn more about your prospect for future reference. Never let the prospect off the phone without knowing your next move.

  • Treat your prospect the way you like to be treated. Even if your telephone meeting was prearranged, ask your prospect if this is a good time to talk. If not, reschedule. There's no point making your pitch if you don't have their full attention.

  • Engage your prospect by asking questions first. This information is essential in knowing how to tailor your discussion to meet your prospect's needs. Questions engage your listener in conversation and should be worded in such a way to encourage a dialogue. Keep answers to objections readily available. Be prepared to use them with each call.

  • Be polite to secretaries. They can be your ally. "Remember that your prospect's secretary is doing the same thing as your secretary--guarding the boss," says Diane M. Wildowsky, president of Cold Call Enterprises in New York City, which provides training in cold-calling. Ask for the secretary's name and write it down. Use it the next time you call and you'll see how much warmer he or she is to you.

  • Turn voice mail into an ally. The truth is, voice mail can actually be a wonderful selling tool. Rather than relying on a secretary who might not get your message straight, you can leave your prospect with your pitch--in your own words and at your own tone.

  • Use the "you" factor. Draw your listener in by inserting "you" into your dialogue. For prospects to listen to what you have to say, they have to see a benefit. They need to know what's in it for them. --Bruce W. Fraser

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This article was originally published in the March 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Stressbusters.

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