One of the things that appears to strike fear into the heart of people who run their own businesses, is sales. And the thing they find most difficult is cold-calling. In fact, I think that the vast majority of people who say they dislike sales, actually dislike cold-calling. And there's a lot more to sales, and a lot more to like about sales, than cold-calling.
I'll let you into a secret; I've worked in sales for a large part of my career and I don't like cold-calling either! It's not the most fun thing to do but it can be productive, and you can make a success of it (even if it fills you with dread) by following these 5 steps:
1. Be prepared
Know what you want from the call, and prepare to achieve it. The easiest way is to write a script; short sweet and to the point. Once you know your script, and it won't take long, cold calls will become easier. If you want a meeting, ask for it. If you want to send more information, confirm it. Knowing what you want makes it much more likely that you will get the right result.
2. Smile and be confident
Even if you don't feel it, act it. Smile - a smile translates down the phone and radiates confidence - be polite, and courteous. Nerves can sometimes come across as brusque in the voice so be aware.
3. Know the potential objections - and how to deal with them
You already know, perhaps from experience, that there are likely to be objections. Think through what they are, and how you can deal with them. After all, if you met someone face to face at a networking event you'd find it much easier - the barrier here is just the telephone. Plan out what you will say to objections, and say it.
4. Know your metrics
You might just find that you're actually quite good at cold-calling (you manage to get lots of interest in further information, for instance) but because you don't convert that interest, you think you aren't very good. However, you aren't going to know that if you don't know your metrics. Design an excel table and start ticking off every time someone asks for information, you get a meeting, or close a deal as a result. The stats will be fascinating - and give you an indication of where the real problems may lie.
5. Keep going - even when you feel like giving up
It's very easy to give up on cold-calling after a few attempts that don't go anywhere. However, cold-calling is a numbers game - the more you make, the more successful you become. In part, this is due to confidence but it's also because when you plug away calling new people you start to learn more about what they want, and how that relates to what you do. You realise that the person on the end of the phone is a real person. Not a disconnected voice, and you get better at building relationships with them.
Cold-calling isn't the bogeyman you might think - with a bit of practice, and some confidence, you can make it your business' best friend!
Want more help with your cold-calling techniques? Or any other bizdev activities? I can help!