Cold calling still seems to be a controversial subject. Does it work anymore? Did it ever work? The truth is, whilst email and social marketing should be a very important part of your contact strategy, sometimes there’s no better way to kick start a relationship than a well-timed and well executed telemarketing call.
However success depends very much on your approach and expectations.
It’s like that old story where a girl walks into a bar for a first date with a guy. They sit down with their drinks and he says, ‘This evening, I thought we could look at wedding rings and then choose names for our first child’. She’s back at the bar ‘asking for Angela’ in seconds…
It’s easy to see what’s wrong in this scenario – cutting straight to the chase and asking for commitment, without building a relationship first just doesn’t work – in fact you blow any chance you might have had. Business relationships are no different – you can’t short circuit the sales cycle and you simply can’t skip that crucial bit where someone gets to know, like and trust you.
There’s no silver bullet and there are no magic beans to circumvent your sales cycle. If you try to sell before gaining trust you’re going to fail, and probably end up sounding like someone on The Apprentice. In fact, if you find yourself selling at all, you probably need to rethink your approach.
The idea of a slick, word perfect Glengarry Glenn Ross type sales caller belongs back in the 1990’s along with bum bags, cropped tops and brown lipstick (guilty as charged by the way).
Your first contact with a potential client should always be much more about them than about you. There’s no point telling them all about your product or service and how wonderful it is – because they are probably thinking ‘so what?’. Instead start with a brief introduction (no more than a sentence) about you and why you’re calling, then ask a couple of relevant questions instead.
Then here comes the really important bit – stop talking and listen. Pay attention to what they’re telling you, use the odd verbal nod to encourage them to keep talking and then ask some relevant follow up questions. Now you’re having a natural conversation, finding out about their business and what challenges they have, and where appropriate you can begin to introduce what you do. This way, they won’t think of you as a ‘cold caller’ because your focus is on building a relationship rather than pitching and selling. This kind of activity naturally leads to opportunities, and has the added benefit of providing you with loads of extra market intelligence..
So the next time you look at your list of targets and feel like you’d rather clean out the office fridge than make a ‘cold call’, remember it’s not all about you.