Cold call marketing is not a thing of the past. If used with forethought and consideration, it can be an effective tool. There’s a place for cold calls in sales, and there are industries where it makes sense. But, old school over-the-top pushy telemarketering isn’t the way. Times have changed; consumers want to be engaged, not talked at. Talking over people and using outdated, one-sided sales tactics may no longer work. What does work?
Be polite, begin any call by asking your prospect if they have time to chat. I ask, “Am I taking you away from 20 things right now?” If they’re busy, I request a convenient time to call back. Never address a stranger by their first name. Many people are “put off” when strangers address them in this manner. If they prefer their first name, they’ll tell you. Respect their time. Don’t overstay your welcome. Be thorough, but get to the point.
Ask questions and learn the prospect’s needs, wants, and desires. What problems do they have? Ask open-ended questions – who, what, when, where, why, and how – then listen to their answers.
Smile — believe me, it comes through the phone. This may be the most important point in this post. Be someone people want to talk to. Never share negative comments about competitors – yours or theirs. Accentuate the positive by showing the advantages of your product or service without downgrading others.
Show your professionalism by doing all the above and by answering questions as honestly and thoroughly as possible. It’s not only OK to say, “I don’t know the answer to your question, may I get back with you?”, it’s the only professional answer when you don’t know, or aren’t certain.
This may sound as if it’s the opposite of being professional, but it’s not. People enjoy working with people they enjoy. Keep your ears open for anything they may hint at wanting to share. If they say, “Our weather has been miserable,” “I’m going to my daughter’s practice,” or, “Our golf outing is this weekend,” etc.— ask them about it.
Many sales and marketing professionals don’t like to cold call. If a cold call isn’t looked at as a sales call, but as a conversation in which information is shared – it may not be as intimidating. The telephone can be an integral part of your sales and marketing plan – if used with courtesy and professionalism to determine the prospect’s needs.