Monday, April 19, 2010
How to cold call (if you must)
It's not always ideal to cold call. It's far better to respond to an inbound prospect request, a referral, or some other means by which the call is immediately warm and easier to make.
But sometimes, you just don't have that. Cold calling isn't easy, but if you have something that others need, there's still a win-win to be had. The difference between a cold call and a warm call is that, with the warm call, the prospect already knows there's value in the relationship. So if you're cold calling, your primary job is to immediately build and provide value for the prospect.
This usually has little to do with what you're selling. It has to do with making a connection and delivering value within the first two minutes. Here are a couple ways to do that.
Call with an offer. Have something ready to hand over immediately, something that directly relates to their focus areas and can provide immediate value independent of a sale. It can be a white paper, a free pass to an upcoming trade show, etc. Your first call should be about them, not you.
Call with context. If you're blasting through a phone list, there's no way you have any idea what that prospect is thinking about. You don't really know their role, their concerns, their pain, or their needs. Even if you just spend 3-5 minutes researching the organization and individual (via Google, Gist, LinkedIn or similar), you'll be far smarter about how to start the call, immediately build rapport, and continue the conversation.
Practice your voicemails. At least 80 percent of the time you're cold-calling, you're not talking to a live person. You're getting voicemail. Some cold-callers immediately hang up and make the next dial. But I'd recommend writing, practicing and leaving a 15-20 second voicemail that makes an offer, promises immediate value, delivers urgency, and requests a call back by a specific time. Do these early in the day and you're likely to generate new inbound "leads" for yourself in the afternoon.
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