Image via MarkHillary
There’s a lot of talk out there on the Internet about how cold calling doesn’t work anymore; permission marketers, new-media gurus, and burned-out sales people are proclaiming that the age of cold calling is dead.
Working as a sales manager at NetBiz.com prior to working in our social media department, I encountered this sentiment frequently, especially in the real estate industry. Often, when our sales reps initially approach real estate agents about offering our Search Engine Marketing services, they tell us they are “doing fine,” “don’t need our help,” and “will work the referral networks.”
Here’s a little secret that we’ve learned from the pros: You know the really successful real estate agents, the ones who are making substantial income and have done so from the beginning of their careers? A very large number of them make cold calls! They comb through lists of foreclosures and call the homeowners, they call people trying to sell their own homes (FSBOs), and they call anyone they can introduce themselves to in an effort to win some business.
An acquaintance of mine decided she was going to start coaching executives on public speaking. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Directing and has been a theater practitioner her whole life. She had never been in the business world before she started this coaching endeavor. She now charges upwards of $300 per hour for her coaching services, and she flies all over the country with more clients than she can handle. I emailed her and asked how she found her clientele. Guess what her answer was?
Cold calling drives new sales. Cold calling is free market research. Cold calling forms new business alliances. Regardless of whether you work for a large or small company, cold calling can benefit your business.
NetBiz has a large and experienced sales staff, and a large portion of our business comes from cold calling. Here are some tips from the trenches:
Dial, dial, dial: Some people get distracted between phone calls. Whether you have just finished setting an appointment or just got rejected in a big way, the best thing you can do for your business is to get right back on the phone. Sales is a numbers game and the more people you talk to the more likely you are to get a yes.
Have a strong opening: You should be enthusiastic about what you do. That enthusiasm should shine through in your voice when you call. Identify yourself and what you want right away so the person on the other end knows what you want.
Present clearly: Is your goal to get an appointment? Is it to close the sale right there over the phone? Either way, your presentation should be short and to the point. At NetBiz, our sales reps follow this tip with great success. After a short introduction to a potential customer, you’ll hear sales reps on the phone saying, “I’d like to place your website on the first page of Google. We guarantee that placement 24/7 and it’s month-to-month.” This short sentence works wonders because it clearly explains our product to customers, and doesn’t take up much of their time!
Ask for the sale: It seems obvious, but after you’ve presented a pitch to the client, ask if they want it! Many inexperienced salespeople will present something, but they never get what they want because they don’t ask the client for it. Some people just need a little nudge.
Listen: What are your prospects saying? Are they confused? Ask questions and listen not only to what they are saying, but also to the tone of voice. After hours of hearing “no” it’s easy to stop listening to what prospects are actually saying. Hearing that subtle note of curiosity in a prospect’s voice can often be the difference between success and failure.
Resolve concerns: If people tell you no, it’s usually not because they don’t want what you are offering. Quite often they are saying no because they are too busy to talk or they don’t understand what you are offering. Ask questions to make sure they know what you are offering. Ask them why they don’t want it. Listen to the answers and resolve any concerns they may have.
Now, what about you? I know that many of you will say that cold calling is dead, but do you do it in your business?