Cold Calling Is Still a Worthwhile Sales and Marketing Strategy, but Only If It’s Done the Right Way
With the arrival of computer technology the likes of which we’ve never seen before, not to mention cell phones and social marketing beyond our wildest dreams, there are some who would argue that the need to cold call potential customers is all but over. That assertion is premature at best.
What is cold calling? It is the process of approaching prospective customers or clients who are not expecting such an interaction, typically via telephone…but even that’s changing. The word "cold" is used because the person receiving the call or some other communication is not expecting it or has not specifically asked to be contacted.
For the record, calling on a lead is not considered a cold call. It’s actually a very “hot” one; these are individuals who’ve provided you with the information you need to contact them…you didn’t have to track them down. However, the same degree of expertise and comfort that someone needs to be successful when cold calling can come in mighty handy for hot calls as well.
Bottom line, in business it pays to know how to cold call and be comfortable with it.
Despite how far we’ve come on the technology front, it’s a fact that cold calling is still a very effective means of creating brand awareness, building customer rapport and trust and, ultimately, landing business. Unfortunately, most business people dread the idea of having to call a prospect out of the blue to sell them their wares. And therein lies some of the problem.
A common misperception is that the ultimate goal of cold calling is to make a sale. That’s just not true. In fact, it’s wrong. That’s right, wrong! The ultimate goal of any cold call is NOT to make a sale. Rather, making a cold call is about reaching out to someone and/or another business that is not expecting you to contact them to let them know who you are and what you have to offer, all in the hopes of securing the CHANCE to make a sale at some point down the road.
The ultimate goal of any cold call or long-term, cold-calling strategy is quite simple really; it’s to set up an appointment to make your pitch. Realizing that this is the primary reason for making the effort should take some of the pressure off. After all, you’re just educating a potential customer for their own good, informing them about the services and/or products you provide that would be beneficial to them in some concrete way. If that truly wasn’t the case, you wouldn’t be targeting that particular person or organization to begin with, would you?
The fact is that there is still a viable place for cold calling in any home-based or other small business marketing plan. It’s just a matter of doing it the right way to maximize its effectiveness…that’s what matters most.
Cold Calling Quick Tips
Effective cold calling is a true art form, but it is one that can be learned. Here are a few things to consider when implementing a strategic cold calling initiative to grow your business:
1) Cold calling is a bit like exercise…you just have to just do it! You must commit to carving some time out of each day or at least once a week to make reaching out to new customers a priority. If you can’t or won’t, you’re wasting your time. Consistency and follow-through are everything.
2) Know your target! You have to do some homework to know who or what businesses in your area could use and/or need your services and/or products. It’s better to find ten really good prospects and work them hard than to reach out to 100 where the fit might not be right or you haven’t done sufficient background research to be effective.
3) Be prepared. You have to know your products/services like the back of your hand. Although a script is critical, it’s just like when you were back in school with your note cards presenting to the class; you were supposed to only glance at them to prompt you for what to say next, not read them word for word. The same is true when cold calling from a script. You have to keep it conversational and engaging, not mechanical and stilted. When it comes to preparation, practice makes perfect!
4) Put gatekeepers first. Secretaries, office assistants, anyone who stands between you and the big boss are important! In fact, they are the critical link you need to get to the person who matters most, the decision maker. Take time to get to know them by name. Let them get to know you. Go out of your way to get them what they need to work on your behalf in getting their superior(s) to pay attention.
5) Understand the process. Cold calling is not a “one shot and you’re done” proposition. It’s an ongoing marketing strategy that requires diligence, commitment and follow-thru in a timely and well thought out way. Research shows that most prospects do not say “yes” to a cold calling request until after the fifth or sixth exchange, which means you have to stay at it and not give up.
6) Become an expert. The number of free and even reasonably priced resources available on how to maximize your cold calling efforts is practically limitless. Recognize that there are correct ways to approach this sales tactic that can make it incredibly effective and worthwhile. On the flip side, there are very concrete guidelines out there on what NOT to do that might just save you from wasting your breath and time. Don’t be too proud to invest some effort and even some money in learning how you and your staff can be the best cold calling force in your business.