There are other ways you can do prospecting without having to do a cold call. Email, content marketing, and social media are just a few proven methods for prospecting that won’t require you to dial a number.
For many business owners, cold calling can be an uncomfortable experience. The idea of calling a person you haven’t met and the possibility of being rejected will take anyone out of their comfort zones.
However, despite the availability of Internet-based processes, businesses still include cold calling in their marketing strategy. The reason is that cold calling when done properly can deliver results.
Challenges Of Cold Calling
For sure you have experienced what it was like to be cold called. You could have been on the way out of your house or driving on the way to work when your phone rings. It’s an unregistered number. You decide to take the call. Within a few seconds, you go through the familiar spiel:
“Good Morning! How are you today? I hope I did not catch you at a bad time. I am calling on behalf of ABC Marketing. I would like to discuss a wonderful opportunity with you. It will only take five minutes. Have you ever had itching that has never gone away?”
Your mind processes three options:
- Give the caller a piece of your mind
- Say “No”
- Close the phone without saying anything
Whatever option you decide will effectively end the cold call and make you feel better.
The same can’t be said for the person who did the cold call.
7 Ways To Provide Valuable Information On A Cold Call
- Be Client-Centred
Cold calling is perceived as a nuisance. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has imposed stiff fines and penalties for agencies that call consumers whose names appear on its Do Not Call or DNC registry.
The fact that there is a DNC registry shows you how much cold calling is despised by consumers.
The problem lies in how the caller frames the purpose of the cold call. The caller comes across like he/she has no regard for the prospect. It’s about “I/Me/Myself” instead of “What we can do for you”.
You should take a client-centred approach to your cold call. It is not about you. It is about them.
When selling, you should find out the prospect’s needs and wants. Then identify the product feature that will address those needs and wants in order to initiate a positive response of at least hearing out your value proposition.
Prepare For The Cold Call Ahead Of Time
Cold calling has a bad reputation because the people or agencies who run them continue to use a formulaic approach. This highly-structured approach with a myopic view of marketing has never produced consistent results.
Times have changed. People have changed. Technology has changed. So why do the same cold calling strategy over and over again? The only result you will generate is more failure; more rejections.
Here are 7 ways you can get a prospect to provide valuable information on a cold call:
As mentioned earlier, cold calling involves contacting people you haven’t met. It is difficult to come up with an approach if you have no idea of who the person is and what he needs. The best way to prepare for a call is to do some research ahead of time.
You don’t have to do extensive research. A simple Google search or a quick check on his social media posts will be enough to give you ideas on the type of person the prospect is.
Use the information as a basis for framing your questions or fine-tuning your discussion points. Your set of questions should be relevant and arranged with strategy in mind. Start off with generalized questions. As the call progresses, move on to more specific ones.
- Use Call Guides Instead Of Call Scripts
How many cold calls have you received in your life? Chances are, more than you have fingers and toes. You know all the cold calling clichés and are probably tired of it:
- “How are you today?” – Who are you again?
- “I hope I didn’t catch you in a bad time” – And when is it ever a good time for a good cold call?
- “I know where you’re coming from.” – Really? Did you have the same experience with telemarketers?
- “I’m sorry you feel that way?” – No, you’re not. You’re paid to make this call.
- “We have a research team and your name came out.” – No, you don’t. Your company bought a leads list and my name and number just happened to be on it.
Companies create scripts to avoid legal issues with consumer rights protection agencies. Scripts are written with local state legislation in mind. That’s why they will always sound mechanical. Instead of engaging prospects, you end up tip-toeing through a minefield of legalities.
Forget the scripts and use call guides instead. A call guide is just an outline of all the important items you have to discuss with the prospect. The advantage of a call guide is that it opens more room for engagement. You are not boxed in like you would be with a script.
- Work To Establish A Feedback Cycle
In our example of a typical script, the caller lost any interest the prospect may have had by overwhelming him/her. What would you do if you met someone in a party who only talked about himself/herself? You need to give the prospect a time to breathe and process the situation. Remember, he/she doesn’t know you.
If you want your cold call to have any chance of success, you must allow the prospect the opportunity to give a response or feedback. Why? Because it shows the prospect that you respect his/her time and it triggers communication. As you know, communication is a two-way street.
Be prepared to handle negative feedback. You must be able to anticipate objections and responses from irate prospects. Through it all, you must remain professional and extend courtesy.
Allowing your prospect time to respond will give you a higher probability of getting cooperation than suffocating someone with too much information.
- Moderate Your Expectations
Can you close a sale on your first call? Sure. Why not? 100% it has happened before. However, don’t expect it to happen on your first call.
Prospecting is the primary purpose of the first call. You are qualifying the interest of the prospect by sharing usable and relevant information about your product or service.
If the prospect is interested, it is not a 100% guarantee that he/she will buy what you are selling. What it does mean is that you can move the prospect further into your sales funnel.
Converting a prospect into a paying customer is an entirely different process. It will take time and a different approach. During the first call, moderate your expectations. Focus on what you need to do which is to extract valuable information.
- Get The Prospect To Relax
Another reason why telemarketing has gotten a bad reputation is the proliferation of scammers. While there are honest people who use cold calling to generate sales for their legitimate products, there are likewise unscrupulous people who just want to pry away your hard-earned money for nothing.
Don’t be surprised if you come across prospects whose first reaction would be to think your cold call is another scam. Get the prospect to relax so he/she will realize this is a call for a legitimate business.
Here are a few ways you can get the prospect to relax:
- Use a friendly tone of voice; practice during your free time.
- Don’t get pushy; as stated earlier, don’t overwhelm the prospect.
- Be honest; do away with the scripts and engage the prospect openly.
Focus your pitch on how your product or service can help address the prospect’s needs, wants or concerns.
- Request Permission For A Follow-Up
If the prospect says:
- “Sorry, I’m not interested.”
- “I can’t take your call right now.”
- “I don’t have any use for your products at the moment.”
Don’t end the call empty-handed. Respectfully request permission from the prospect if you can do a follow-up call. The best way to do this would be to give an enticing offer:
“To show you we’re confident of what we can do for you, we’re going to offer you a free trial/sample with no questions asked. If you like it, great! If not, you’ll never hear from us again. However, I would need your email address so I can forward the promo code/information sheet that you will need to avail of the free trial/sample.”
You may not succeed all the time, but you’ll rarely find prospects that will refuse free trials or samples. Getting an email address will give you an effective channel for communication.
Despite its bad reputation, cold calling remains an important component of any marketing campaign. It just needs an overhaul. Your approach should be to make your cold calling strategy fit with the changing times and not the other way around.
Cold calling is a scary proposition because you could have a prospect that is irate, not cooperative, in a rush or all of the above. You could spend four hours in the morning cold calling and not land a single interested prospect. You feel like you just wasted four hours of your time.
The truth is, cold calling doesn’t have to be this way.
It can be an effective component of a marketing campaign if you are prepared, committed and approach the cold calling process with an open mind.