If you get knots in your stomach just thinking about your next cold call, relax. A few simple adjustments can improve your cold-calling game immediately, and technology can increase your effectiveness by leaps and bounds. Here are nine basic tips to help you make better cold calls.
- Speak clearly. If you can't make your phone call from a landline and a mobile phone is your only option, do your best to make sure you're in an area where the call won't be dropped or garbled by static. "I think I'm losing you" is not a phrase you want to hear – or say – on a business call.
- Don't try to say too much at once. Get the prospect involved instead of talking at him or her. Ideally, you'll do 25 percent of the talking, and the prospect will do the rest.
- Be polite and courteous. Saying "Thank you" and "I appreciate your time" never hurt anybody.
- Stick to the point. It's fine if the prospect wants to shoot the breeze about the big game or remark on the sunny weather, but be prepared to bring the focus back to how you can help this person succeed in business. It's okay to be conversational and follow verbal cues, but be mindful of the clock.
- Relax. Take some deep breaths. Put a smile in your voice.
- Don't act too familiar. Calling a prospect by his or her first name can be a simple way to establish quick rapport. Just don't overdo it. If you use the name in every third sentence, your attempts to connect can sound forced and insincere.
- Know the best times to call. The best time to cold call is when the prospect has a need or is overwhelmed by a challenge that fits with your value proposition. Tracking trigger events can help you make sure you're reaching out at an ideal time.
- Succinctly explain who you are. If you've met the person before or have had contact on social media (technically this would be more of a "warm call"), be prepared to briefly summarize the history of your interaction.
- Don't be a nuisance. Know the history of your company's attempts to reach a prospect before you ask for his or her time. It doesn't make sense to contact prospects with the same scripted message if others from your company have already tried (and failed) to make a connection. Figure out a new approach, or move on to the next call.