Cold and Warm Calls
Making outgoing calls is something that some people dread, but if you work on phones all day, you must get more comfortable with it. And if you are going to sell, you’ve simply got to pick up the phone and get started.
In this lesson,
we’ll consider the value of making those calls, and the differences between cold and warm calls.
The Cold Call
From a sales perspective, no prospecting strategy is as good as picking up the telephone and calling to ask people whether or not you can get together with them to talk about what you do. While networking or delivering speeches are both good supplementary measures, prospecting by telephone is the telephone sales person’s primary method of finding new contacts.
If you make as few as six calls a day that result in someone from your target company picking up the phone and saying, “Hello,” you can make a significant difference in your total income picture.
These six calls do not necessarily all result in setting up an appointment. Nor do they even mean that you always get through to the decision maker. But, if you pick up the telephone and make those six calls regularly, five out of five days of every business week, without fail, you minimize stress, frustration, and wasted effort. You also take control of the front end of your own sales cycle.
A Cure for Call Reluctance
A lot of sales people are plagued by call reluctance, even though the vast majority of prospects are unfailingly polite, even if they don’t want to talk with you further.
One technique for overcoming call reluctance is to write, “Don’t worry about it, just do it,” on the front of your planner, to remind you that you are calling people and asking questions not just to help you, but to help them as well.
A second technique is to have your list of prospective clients in front of you so you can begin at the beginning, and work down through the list without trying to cherry pick the clients who are apt to say yes.
Here are some other tips to make cold calls work for you:
- Create a comfortable call center that works well for you. Some people prefer headsets so they can make notes as they talk. Others prefer to stand. Most people have a script they use as a guideline to keep them on track. At any rate, have the information you need right in front of you. Choose what works best for you.
- Make your notes immediately after the phone call, including any follow-up required.
- Reward yourself after making a certain number of phone calls. The number of calls made can dictate the reward.
Connecting with Decision-Makers
One problem you may encounter is reaching a gatekeeper. Gatekeepers are people responsible for keeping you away from the person you would like to speak with. They may be front desk receptionists or they may be administrative assistants, but their mandate is to filter out non-essential callers and salespeople.
There are some proven strategies for getting to your target decision-maker without offending them. One idea is to make calls at times when support staff are normally not at work, such as early in the morning, at lunch hour, or at the end of the day. Not everyone likes to be caught answering the phone, but if you can say with sincerity, “I see you are working late (or early) like me,” you may find they will relax and spend some time talking with you. If not, quickly ask if you might call them back at a more convenient time, or if you can set up an appointment to talk with them in person.
Try the answer/ask strategy. This is a technique that involves turning the tables on receptionists, assistants, and other gatekeepers by asking them questions in return. For example:
Receptionist: “Acme Holdings.”
- You: “Ms. Roberts, please.”
- Receptionist: “May I tell her who is calling?”
- You: “Please tell her Ralph Jones is holding.”
- Receptionist: “And what is your company, Mr. Jones?”
- You: “Would you tell her that I am calling from Jones and Jones Associates, please?”
Always treat people right. Get that gatekeeper on your side by acknowledging their role and enlisting their help to find a good time to reach your prospect.
Take advantage of voice mail. Despite all its disadvantages, there are at least a few advantages we should keep in mind when we are faced with whether to leave a message or not. We should take this opportunity to get the most we can out of our calling time.
Voice mail can be useful since we don’t get interrupted and the person we want to reach will at least get to listen to the first part of our message.
Prepare and practice what you want to say, put a pleasant smile in your voice, speak slower than you normally would, and go for it.
Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you just can’t seem to get a prospect’s attention. Get beyond saying, “I’m so-and-so,” and “I’m glad to reach you.” If you and your competitors all use the same words, how will you stand out from the rest? You need to have a good opening statement. This includes telling them who you are and what you are calling about. Prospects get annoyed with people who try to be coy or too cutesy.
Come up with a new way to greet prospects that will set you apart from the crowd, like:
- “I don’t want any money.”
- “These five minutes could make a difference in your bottom line.”
- “Help me solve a mystery.”
- “I learned something really interesting about your business the other day.”
The Warm Call
A warm call is a sales call that is made to someone that you already have some kind of connection with. Here are some tips for warming up cold calls:
- Send a preliminary mailing in a business envelope with the person’s name spelled correctly, a tailored letter with information directly relating to the prospect, and a small brochure.
- If somebody you met during your networking or someone you have dealt with successfully has referred you to this person, you can use the referral as an excellent way to warm up a cold call. However, you can only use this technique when it is indeed a referral.