Cold-calling may be the most undervalued of all sales techniques. After all, prospects aren’t just waiting around for new vendors. And for even the best sales person, fear of rejection can be a powerful de-motivator. But with the right attitude and a few simple techniques, cold calls should be a powerful weapon in every sales arsenal. Here’s a few cold calling tips:

Set a Goal

A realistic objective is to simply get the appointment. It’s not likely that your cold-call will result in a sale on the spot. Cold calls are just the first step in building long-term and more sustainable success:

:: By Establishing a Rapport. This call increases the likelihood that this prospect will see you (or at least take your follow-up calls).

:: By Obtaining a Referral. While this person was not the right point of contact, this call results in at least one valuable name and number.

In either case, you’ll gain valuable insight into their business as you
take a significant step towards securing your foot in the right door.

Prepare

The best salespeople “warm up” their cold calls before they pick up the telephone. They know that while prospects cringe at the thought of an unsolicited pitch, most are receptive to the opportunity to engage in a conversation about their company.

:: Read Up. Search on-line for articles on their business. Scan their web site for business drivers.

:: Explore Affiliations. Uncover organizations to which they belong. Identify mutual interests.

:: Ask Around. Seek out successful vendors from other industries. Leverage their insight. Appointment rates increase when prospects sense that you’ve done your homework.

Make the Call

Most prospects will lower their guard only at the request to talk about their needs. Never begin by talking about your products and services. Here are 4 steps to consider:

1. Provide Context. “I read the article on your company…” or “I see you’ve just expanded your facility…” or “Jim Smith from the Chamber of Commerce and I were just talking about you…”

2. Play it Straight. “I don’t know whether my company can help you, but I’d like to ask you a few questions to see if there’s anything we do that you could benefit from.”

3. Probe Broadly. “If I could tackle 3 of your biggest headaches, what would they be?”

4. Summarize & Confirm. “So what you’re saying is that inventory management drives your decisions.” At the heart of a successful cold-call lies your chance to learn about an opportunity and to demonstrate your listening skills. Efficient, probing calls demonstrate the best sales person’s ability to sell thoughtfully.

The Place for Cold Calls

Today, as prospects’ appetites for benefits grow and competitive entrants emerge, the selling field is generally more open. That’s why many of America’s largest and most successful sales organizations continue to devote high percentages of sales time and resources to cold calls. And, it’s why the most successful sales people in our industry consider cold-calling an important tool for their own sustained sales growth.