There are 3 ways to bring business into your organization:
While it is possible to build a business using just one of these selling tactics, most businesses find that the most sustainable growth comes from a combination of all three.
Because marketing alone can get very expensive, reducing profitability.
Referrals are indeed magic, but most businesses don’t have a good referral requesting process in place.
Most business owners do not sell as consistently as is needed to sustain growth.
All three working together are, hands down, the most effective way to grow a business. But there’s a clear winner – outbound prospecting is the fastest, most direct way to bring in new business.
So let’s talk about that outbound selling, ‘cold calling’ as most people refer to it.
There are some ways to make it a little ‘warmer’, though. These things will make your efforts a lot more effective too.
Ready? Here we go.
1. Do Your Research
Just like painting, there is a lot to be done before you pick up the phone to make a sales call. And yes, you should be using the phone.
This starts with being clear about who is most likely to be experiencing the problem you solve. Sure, you’re making some assumptions, but you need to start somewhere.
It helps to have drawn up a target list that you have ranked in order of how important their business is to you. And this is really important; you need to start at the bottom of your list. As you go through your list you’ll be improving your calling skills so that when you reach the top of this list, those clients that you really, really want to work with, you’ll be a seasoned pro. And cold calling won’t seem so scary either!
2. Practice your Points
I recommend that you have thought about what you want to say before you pick up the phone, even writing out a script if you find that useful. But remember, you don’t want to sound like you are using a script! That defeats the whole point of making a personal, authentic outreach to someone whom you believe you can help.
Here’s how you might want to approach a cold call to the list you’ve identified above:
“Hi, this is (your name). May I speak to the person who handles (whatever the problem you solve is OR a name if you have one)?”
When you get this person on the phone, I prefer a direct approach:
“Hi, (name), I’m calling today to find out whether you are experiencing (the problem you solve)?”
If they say no, then you thank them for their time, make a note and move on to the next person on your list. Sales is often simply a numbers game and there are plenty more people you can help.
Sometimes they’ll be intrigued by this direct approach and ask you more. In which case, play along! You never know what you might learn.
If they say yes, you might say something like, “I was calling today because other businesses just like yours were able to find relief from this problem by working with me. Would now be a good time to talk a little more about whether that might make sense for you too?”
And you’re off. A cold call like this is one of only two times in a sales conversation where a closed ended question is recommended, BTW!
3. Make it Consistent
Consistency really does pay in terms of prospecting. You might choose to spend an entire day doing sales outreach, or you might choose to make just 3 or 5 calls per day. The numbers are calculated on the basis of your revenue targets as well as your conversion rates.
The key is to do it consistently and make it part of your regular schedule. You’ll find you get into a rhythm and making cold calls will be just like any other activity you do regularly.
4. Prepare Yourself
Like a lot of things in life, the thought of cold calling is far worse than actually doing it. So a little mental preparation won’t go amiss. Take some deep breaths and make sure you’re in an environment that is conducive to making calls.
Full disclosure: I’m greatly affected by light and find it extremely difficult to make cold calls when it’s gray and rainy outside. In those situations, I need to find other ways to get myself into the right frame of mind. I put on all the lights in my office, make sure I’m wearing something bright and cheerful, and sometimes listen to an upbeat song before I tackle my target list. Thanks to Lori Saitz for turning me on to I Am a Champion by Carrie Underwood and Ludacris. That one really gets me ready for anything!
5. Use Your Voice
That sounds silly doesn’t it? Of course you are going to use your voice! But what I mean here is use the phone to your advantage – focus your energy on your voice and making it as warm and engaging as you possibly can. The person on the other end of the line is likely distracted, but by doing this you’ll be able to direct and hold their attention to you and what you are saying.
Record any notes from your conversation/voicemail and then SCHEDULE your follow up! After all the effort you put in to making this cold call (well done!) you wouldn’t want to waste it by not following up as determined by what happened in this effort, right?
Sometimes you’ll need to call someone multiple times to actually reach them, sometimes the prospect will ask you to call again at a specific time.
Growing a business and consistently bringing in new clients and new revenue is hard, hard work. And it can be very slow too, if you’re relying on inbound marketing and referrals only. When you add outbound prospecting to your sales efforts, that’s when you can really start to grow quickly.
Do you feel a little better about making cold calls now? Ready to make that part of your daily or weekly routine? I’d love to hear how it works for you.