Alexander Graham Bell is my hero.
After all, without the invention of the telephone in 1876, I would have one less tool—and a very important one at that—with which to accomplish my work.
Cold calling is an integral part of sales. It must be done and it must be done correctly. I watch the fear in peoples faces when I mention cold calling, but I know that if they would only follow a few simple processes they would be able to let go of that fear. If you can count yourself among this group, here’s a simple process to say goodbye to the beads of sweat forming on your forehead right now.
The first rule of making a cold call is don’t. It’s imperative to prospect, but you shouldn’t make cold calls. In order to “warm up” that call before you make it, get to know who you’re calling beforehand. Google them. Learn about them. Learn about their competition. Find their website and learn the history of the company. Look at their Facebook or LinkedIn to know what they look like. See who you both may know and ask for an introduction.
In this day and age, it doesn’t take long to become familiar with a complete stranger. But the truth is most sales people are lazy. They won’t take the time to research a prospect.
Since you’re here, reading this, I’m assuming you’re not lazy. So, are you ready to pick up the phone? Wait. Is now the best time to call? When is the best time to call?
The best time to call is whenever your prospect is most likely to be able to take your call. No one wants to take a sales call on a Monday. They just got back from the weekend, and their day is full of tasks that have piled up during the past two days. No one will want to discuss an appointment on a Friday, when their mind is off dreaming of two days of freedom.
The middle of the week, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, are the best days to make your calls. I prefer to hit the phone Tuesday and hit the pavement Wednesday and Thursday.
On the Call
You may remember Ernestine (Lily Tomlin), who became famous for her telephone technique.
In the clip above, Ernestine calls Frank Sinatra for an unpaid phone bill and it’s obvious she knows nothing about him. Back then we didn’t have the luxury of the World Wide Web! This is how your call should go (I’m pretending we’ve made it past the gatekeeper—more on that in a later post). You’ll have a very short period of time, maybe 3 sentences, to get to a positive response.
I always introduce myself and my company first, and then get the prospect to agree to talk to you: “Is this a good time for me to bother you?”
Usually, people respond with, “Oh, you’re not a bother.” Time to get started!
Next is the compliment of interest.
“I’m interested in learning more about your company, I’ve heard good things about you. Would you take an appointment with me? In turn I’d like to share how my company adds value to businesses just like yours.”
A few short seconds ago, they said I wasn’t a bother, so it’s really tough to say no now. Typically, I get the opportunity to chat more and earn an appointment, which I affectionately name the first dance. I’m always sure to share up-front that this is a get to know you visit, no expectations on either side. And I mean that.
You’ll improve with every call, so keep researching your prospects and making those calls.
I promise you. Picking up the phone will not kill you. It just might get you an appointment, though. Good luck!