We’ve all been there. The phone rings just as we’re sitting down to dinner. There’s a stranger on the other end of the line, trying their best to sell us something we don’t want or need, and being pretty darn pushy about it, too. They keep talking while our mashed potatoes get cold and our temper gets hot, until we finally hang up on them mid-sentence out of frustration alone.
That’s the wrong way to do cold calling — but there is a right way.
Know Your End Goal
Presumably, you’re not calling a perfect stranger up just to chat, so it’s important that you define your end goal before you ever pick up the phone. Are you calling to set up a meeting to pitch your service? To alert them to a sale or special you’re running? To let them know you’ll have a booth at a local event and invite them to attend?
Very few people will buy what you’re selling on the basis of a single phone call, so your end goal should be to initiate a conversation, not an immediate conversion.
Think of your call as the beginning of a new relationship.
Aim for the Right Target
You’ve probably heard the phrase “He could sell ice to an Eskimo,” but how many Eskimos did he have to call to finally get a taker? If you own a mobile pet grooming service, you shouldn’t be calling people who don’t own pets; if you mow lawns, you shouldn’t be calling people who live in a downtown high-rise.
People don’t buy what they don’t need. By not doing your research beforehand, you’re wasting a lot of time and energy that could be put to better use.
If you’re primarily a business to business marketer, you should be Googling companies before you attempt to call them. Learn who they are, what they do, and most importantly, what they need. This makes it easier to tailor your pitch to them.
If you’re a B2C business, you have it a bit harder — you normally can’t Google a person and get their whole life story. You can, however, do a bit of covert social media stalking. Check out their LinkedIn profile, Twitter feed and Facebook page for clues as to who they are and what they need.
Listen More Than You Talk
Once you have your prospect on the line, get to know them. Many people love to talk about themselves, and what they say gives you an opportunity to figure out the best way to get them to buy what you’re selling.
Ask pointed questions. Really listen to the responses. Learn what problems they have and find a way to solve them. If you’re an accountant, for instance, you shouldn’t lead with “Let me be your accountant.” Instead, ask how much time they spend on their finances each month and then show them how you can save them time by using your service.
Remember, the first call is all about establishing a relationship. You’re trying to create a customer for life, not just make a quick buck.
Avoid the Hard Sell
The “don’t take no for an answer” strategy of yesteryear has no place in 2018. Tying up someone who clearly does not want your product or service makes you and your business look bad and wastes time you could be using to market to people who actually are interested.
Always be polite. A few rebuttals are OK if the prospect seems like they could be swayed, but a hard “no” should always be followed by “Thank you for your time, have a great day!” You don’t want to be the small business who earns a reputation for being pushy or rude.
Important: If a customer requests not to be contacted again, respect their wishes. Companies who make unwanted sales calls to numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry can be fined up to $41,484.
Most people don’t love a sales call — but that doesn’t mean you can’t make them love your small business. Know your goal, hit the right mark, listen to what your prospect has to say and don’t be one of “those” pushy salespeople, and you’ll set yourself up for success from the first hello!
Is cold calling not for you? Would you prefer to email prospects instead? Check back next week, when we discuss “cold emailing.” In the meantime, Mischa Communications is here to answer any questions you have about cold calling or small business marketing in general. Call or email us today!