“My motto was always to keep swinging. Whether I was in a slump or feeling badly or having trouble off the field, the only thing to do was keep swinging.” – Hank Aaron – American Baseball Player
Successful cold calling is dependent on your getting-started attitude. The law of large numbers says, the more “no’s” you get out of the way, the closer you are to getting to “yes!” The best way to succeed is to be prepared and to keep swinging.
There are four basic elements to an effective cold calling campaign:
Qualify your prospects: Begin with a list and qualify your prospects; make sure this list includes businesses that need your products or services and can afford to buy them. Attain key contacts who can make buying decisions.
Be prepared: Do your homework on the company and the industry. Know their key competitors and research some best practices that can add value to their business. Then create a script with which you feel comfortable and include a brief introduction and an interesting third party story about a company similar to theirs who is already using your products or services.
Turn cold calls into warm calls: Do a relationship map and find someone in your company or at another client’s organization who may know the prospect. Get a referral and find commonality. When you have common ground, you know the same people, or you can talk about something you know interests them, people are more warmed up to the call. Approach them on neutral turf by attending networking events or trade shows where they may be present. Find out if your prospect plans to attend and make it a point to run into them. Provide some value: give them a free assessment or a promotional item that would be of great interest to the buyer, something that will catch their attention.
Follow up: Timing is very important, don’t let too much time pass between that first meeting and your next phone call. Follow up when you said you would, but don’t flood their machine with messages. Keep calling until they answer the phone. When you want to schedule an appointment, offer a specific time; don’t leave it open-ended. Ask for only 10 minutes of time to make your pitch. People are very busy, and your call was likely an unplanned interruption. Make it short and sweet and show them you respect their time. During the conversation, find their “hot buttons.” Continue to schedule future brief conversations so they feel they know you, find value in your product and are ready to buy.
Once you’ve got them on the phone and they are intrigued, remember the 80/20 rule. Listen 80% of the time and speak only 20% of the time. People want to buy from people who they feel understand them, their issues and can provide value. They love to speak about themselves, so give them plenty of opportunity. Ask key questions that will reveal how they like to buy and show them how your product fits those specific needs. Keep swinging, and before you know it, you’ll have a growing list of paying customers, and that is a recipe for winning.
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