Most sales people hate cold calling because it involves a lot of physical work and also you have to face rejection many a times from potential customers. It is therefore not surprising that i get regular emails to my inbox asking me “How to cold call” or “Advice for cold calling”.
As mentioned in a previous article, cold calling is still one of the most effective sources of lead generation and hence needs to be used from time to time to generate fresh leads which can then be converted to prospects. So, for the readers of this article and for the sales people who find it tough to cold call, here are an amazing 9 cold calling tips.
Cold calling tip 1 – Plan well. You need to plan your cold calls without which the time and the efforts will be wasted. What do i mean by planning for cold calls? First is the segment. A single product might have multiple segments and you need to finalise one segment at a time to target. Another way of planning for cold calling is to plan geographically, so that once you are in an area, you touch all the potential leads or prospects in that single area. These two are the best examples of good cold calling practices. Taking out time to plan your cold calls is half the battle finished.
Cold calling tip 2 – Polish your product knowledge. Do you know why you are given a honeymoon period when you join a company? It is so that you settle down in a company, know its pros and cons, adjust to the culture and learn everything in depth about the products. Trust me, your product and company knowledge is most tested when you are cold calling a customer. The customer is curious of what you have to offer and at such times, if the customers asks questions, you need to come up with the right answer. Else, the customer can very well go online and purchase the product online itself. It is because you have visited in person, because you have such a working knowledge about the product and the company, that the customer might entertain you and give you the order. Thus, before even beginning cold calling ,get your product knowledge in line.
Cold calling tip 3 – Call at the appropriate time. In some forms of cold calling, you fix appointments whereas in others, you directly cold knock on the door. In some cases, you might directly reach the customer place just so that you can get an appointment. Mind you, this is not just for sale of cheap products. I myself have been involved in sales worth lakhs of rupees where i had to directly enter the customers office and get the appointment from him.
The bottomline is that you need to call at the appropriate time. Mondays are a strict no when cold calling because the prospects are just too busy with the weekend load. However, tuesday afternoon to fridays you can call at anytime. Depending on the segment you are targeting, you can also decide on the time of day to enter the office of the target customer. For me, Tuesdays to Fridays in the second half (after lunch) is the best time to call on customers directly. Yours may be different. By trial and error, find out the best times that customers respond to you. And work hard in just that time.
Cold calling tip 3 – Respect the customers privacy. Do not barge in the door even if the customer is not able to meet. Many a times frustration causes the sales people to become desperate and they might just try to get a meeting anyhow so that their efforts are successful. This is where the planning part sets in. First, do not invade the privacy of the customer. He will never buy your product if you do that.
Second, and this is an important tip of cold calling, always remember your plan. If your plan is to touch 100 customers, always remember that plan so that you do not get frustrated by a single customer. In fact, if you have given up for the day, it is better to start fresh on the next day rather then getting frustrated and not allowing space to the customer. It is you who has come without appointment, and the customer has all the right to ask you to come some other time.
Cold calling tip 4 – Don’t expect immediate closure. Even if the customer gives you some time, don’t expect immediate closure. Many amateurs believe that if the customer is giving time to them, then he is interested in your product. This might not be true. The customer might be gaining information for a future use or just to confirm his decision on a competitive product. When you are doing cold calling, expect leads to get converted to prospects. However, do not expect that the leads will directly get converted to end customers immediately. There is an interim period involved where the customer needs time to make his own decision. So do not push the customer for making a decision. That part comes later when the customer is a hot prospect and not able to make a decision. In that case, you can push the customer for a “Yes or No” answer. However, while cold calling, don’t expect immediate closures.
Cold calling tip 5 – Probing the customer. In out of 50 calls, it is likely that you will come in front of the customer at least 10 times or more. In these cases, you need to showcase your product but at the same time you need to probe the customer and ask questions as well. Like, why did the customer entertain you? Does he have a current need or a future need? Has he ever bought your product or competitors product? When would he like to buy the product? And what quantity is he looking for? Such probing questions show the customer that you are a good sales man and with his answers you can grade whether the customer is looking to purchase immediately or not.
Cold calling tip 6 – Prepare for your pitch. As mentioned in the above point, if the customer entertains you with an enquiry, then you need to probe him to understand about his requirements. However, at the same time, the customer will also be probing you because he needs answers about the product. At such times, it is best if you have your pitch ready. This is a useful cold calling tip whether you are going personally or using the telephone to cold call. You need to prepare your pitch with a 3-4 line description of the product, some examples of brands using your product as well as some testimonials about your product. The pitch should be such that it covers your product, your company’s backgrounds as well as gives cues for social approvals by taking examples of other top companies using your products. Such a pitch will surely get the customer intrigued and you are sure to get him converted from a cold lead to a prospect at the least.
Cold calling tip 7 – Maintain a cold calling database for optimum results. This is a simple thing which makes a huge difference. Statistically speaking, any sales person will agree that you need to meet and follow up with customers minimum 4-5 times before closing the sale. In some markets, it is 15-20 times. The same cannot happen if you do not have a sales database. This is why many companies are nowadays investing in CRM systems so that their sales guys can track the prospects and at the same time the managers can also look at the complete sales pipeline to forecast sales. The database can be divided into not interested, cold, warm and hot prospect along with comments at the end so that you know at any given point of time whether any given customer is cold or a hot prospect. Thus, when any offers or schemes come in, you can immediately close hot prospects by offering the scheme.
Cold calling tip 8 – Try understanding the customer and his body language. Empathy is one of the strongest arrow in the quiver of a sales person. By empathy, we mean understanding the customer and what is going on in his mind and at the same time reading the body language for positive or negative signs. If a customer is boasting, you need to know that he is boasting and it is unlikely that this customer will buy the product. If the customer is asking genuine customers and is inclined towards you, you can understand that the customer is genuinely interested and he can become a hot prospect. Thus, while calling on a customer, dont forget the simple sales basics. Read body language and understand the customer to have the optimum results from cold calling.
Cold calling tip 9 – Don’t get demotivated. One of the most useful tip for cold calling that I can give you is don’t get demotivated. It is easier said then done. Thus, i would be better off giving you an example. Suppose there are 1000 potential customers in a given area. Is it in your hands of when the customer will get a requirement and he will buy a product? It is not. It is in the hands of the customer. Is it in your hands that you cold call and the customer gets a requirement? No. This again is in the hands of the customer. The only thing in your hand is to get in contact with the customer and present the product. The more people you present it to, are the more leads that can be converted to prospects. Thus, if you approach it mathematically, there is no reason to get demotivated by cold calling. In fact, throughout my life in sales, every month 5 days are spent cold calling so that i get upcoming customers which cannot be found on any online directory or trade directory yet. Thus, if you feel disheartened after regular cold calls, take a break and start afresh a day or two down the line. But dont get demotivated because cold calling is surely one of the best ways to generate sales for any company.
The above 9 tips for cold calling are tips which can be used by any sales person, no matter his segment or the market that he belongs too. So hope these cold calling tips were of help to you. Do share in the comments below if you have any other tips for cold callings for the readers of this article.