In the last few months I have started cold calling for my job in order to develop new business. I haven’t done much cold calling before, and I’ve definitely learned a ton so far. Here are some lessons:
- The first call is hardest
There’s always a bit of dread before that first call. A little tension, a little discomfort in your stomach. Sometimes I do other less important tasks so I don’t have to pick up the phone. Cold calling isn’t the most fun, but the first call is definitely hardest. Once you make that first call and realize the world didn’t end, it’s easier to make the next ones. And you start to get into a rhythm. But you have to make that first one.
This may seem dumb or simple, but when you smile, you communicate something in your voice. You communicate a warmth, a friendliness that the other party can detect and makes you more likely to get your intended result.
- Have a script
When you’re first starting out, don’t try to wing it. It won’t go well. Have a script where you have a plan of action: what you’re going to say, how you’re going to get past the gatekeeper, a list of probable objections and how will you overcome them, and so on. No one will tell that you are reading a script, and it will make you more confident and fluid in your delivery.
- Leave messages sparingly
People rarely check messages, and even more rarely respond to them. And you definitely don’t want to leave too many messages; that annoys the other person. However, after a few times of failing to reach the person, leave a short message. “Hi, this is _____ with ________. I would appreciate it if you would call me back at ________. Thanks, and have a great day.” That’s all you need.
- Embrace rejection
It’s inevitable. Some people are jerks, some people have no need, and some people are having a bad day. Whatever the reason, you will be rejected. And probably a lot. Shake it off, take a deep breath, and make the next call.
- Make it a game
If you’re making a ton of calls, it can start to get boring. I try to make it a little more lively by turning it into a game. Basically, I keep track of three statistics: calls made, decision makers talked to, and meetings set. And each day I try to improve on my previous performance.
- Make sure you have the right point of contact
If you need to talk to the CFO, make sure you aren’t calling HR. Or make sure that you have the information on the current CFO. It sounds bad when you ask for a CFO who left two years ago.
- Don’t call a fax number
I made this mistake twice last week. It’s not fun and a surefire way to start developing tinnitus.
- If you’re not sure who to talk to, ask politely
Sometimes you won’t know who the right contact is, and that’s ok. Ask nicely. I’ll ask the secretary/admin “Can you help me find the right point of contact? I’m trying to figure out who handles the banking relationship for your company. Can you point me in the right direction?” Usually, you get the information you need
10. Other departments are great sources of information
Occasionally I decide to switch things up. I’ll ask to speak to the Sales Department, and when I am transferred over, I’ll say “I was trying to get in contact with ______.” Inevitably I’m in the wrong location, but I ask them if they can put me through and usually they do.
11. Know what your intended goal is
This varies greatly by company. Some people are intending to sell over the phone. My only goal is to get the person to meet with me.
12. Ask for the sale/meeting
This is key, and one of the most nerve wracking. But you need to do it. “May I meet you on ______ at _______?”
13. If you can’t reach your intended target, ask for a better time to call back as well as direct line and email
This is an information gathering stage. Hopefully you will find out when the person is out of their meeting or available to talk. But furthermore, if you can get their email address or direct line, you can get in contact with them directly and avoid going through the gatekeeper.
These are a few things I have learned so far through cold calling. It’s not easy and you face a lot of rejection, but when you get the meeting or make the sale, it’s one of the most rewarding experiences. It’s fun to try to find different ways to succeed, and it definitely make the day interesting. I’ll keep you guys updated as I learn more. Time to hit the phones.