The cold sell used to be one of the backbones of marketing, whether it was door-to-door or over the phone. Cold calling showed an unheard of amount of confidence in one’s brand or product, that you could approach a complete stranger with the intent of having another happy customer by the time the conversation was over.
The era of pushy telemarketers and the do-not-call list that followed prompts many people to associate cold calls with similar business practices, but the two are not necessarily linked. Under the right circumstances and with the right approach, cold calling can still be effective. But is it a good fit for your business?
How to Warm Up to the Idea of Cold Calling
Cold calling can be a great way to make a few quick sales to help kickstart some growth or build a customer base. As a sales method, it’s really designed to handle smaller sales targets and short-term activity, as an untapped market will always have those who are willing to listen to a pitch and say yes if it suits them.
In addition to this, the tactics used in a cold call are worth honing through repeated practice with non-customers so that when you are contact a current customer, you can subtly employ the same methods to get them to agree to further sales of propositions as they come up. Cold call sales aren’t so much a skill as they are an art of communication.
How to Improve Your Cold Calls
It all starts with the way the conversation starts. You need to be confident that you know as much about your customer as you can without seeming shady. Learn their name, learn their business, and be prepared to walk them through how working with your company will benefit them.
There’s no need to lie or be overly persistent to the point of annoying someone — a “no” tomorrow could be a “yes” later if you’re needed. Just try to anticipate their needs and demonstrate how you can meet them.
Why You Should Give Cold Calling the Cold Shoulder
Of course, cold calling isn’t right for everyone. If your company relies more on post-sale customer service, an unwanted cold call can ruin the entire reputation of that service. The fact that cold calls have accumulated such a bad reputation can make companies who rely on them appear desperate to those who have never faced the need for them.
Because some people can find cold calling invasive or unproductive, it can leave a bad taste in many people’s mouths, and so it can create more long-term damage for your business, especially if you only have a small circle to sell in.
If Your Cold Calls Aren’t Working
First of all, ditch the script. As tempting as it might be to try and handle each call the same way, each contact is with a different person, who has their own goals, irritations, and selling points. Having an actual conversation is much more likely to be effective.
Second, look for any opportunity to sell your professional credentials. If you have a local or notable partner that either works in collaboration with you or is interested in your services, casually use that information to your advantage. Influential people can do a great deal of swaying someone’s opinion of your company, even indirectly so.
To Cold Call Or Not
Ultimately, you have to decide if cold calling fits your company values and the needs of your current goals. If you just need to drum up some extra business in a new area and have no leads to start from, cold calling can be great.
Alternately, if your business relies on every sale it makes, the amount of time you spend trying to make a successful cold call will far outweigh those calls that end positively for you.
It never hurts to follow the golden rule — if you wouldn’t want someone to contact you the way you’re considering contacting others, it might not be a great idea.