What is the number one thing you hate doing? After flossing, of course. For my clients, it’s usually cold calling. Picking up the phone and calling someone they’ve never really established a relationship with — or even met — and trying to sell them on a product or service is tough for most people.
While it can be a tough job picking up a phone, not knowing what the result will be — a total waste of time? A big sale? — it’s a major part of being a small business owner.
9 tips to make cold calls easy
1. Prep a script or bullet points
Before you pick up the phone, jot down an outline of what you want to cover. It doesn’t need to be word for word (and you don’t want to sound like you’re reading cue cards). But make sure you map out your opening pitch and your major talking points, as well as your wrap-up and call to action. You want to end with a sentence or two that tells them exactly what next step you want them to take and how to take it. Instead of ending with “So, what do you think?,” you’ll want to say something like: “When are you available to meet for a 30-minute free consultation?” or “Can I sign you up for a month of pies?”
2. Tailor your script to your audience
Once you have your basic script down, think about the call you’re about to make. Think about the person answering the phone. What needs do they have, that you can take care of? How can your product or service make their life easier? Think of one or two ways to personalize your talking points for each call. The time and energy you put into researching the person you’re pitching to, and tweaking your pitch, will be well worth it.
3. Practice several times. (Yes — out loud)
The point of practicing your “script,” or talking points, is really to make sure that when you pick up the phone, you’re free to have an actual conversation. Nobody wants to feel like they’re talking to a robot. When you know your pitch well enough that you’re not worried about missing an important point, you’re much more open to the gentle, natural back-and-forth of just having a good chat with somebody you may be able to help out. And you can handle questions, interruptions, and diversions with grace, while steering the conversation back to what you want them to act on.
4. Flip your attitude
Take this important attitude check before you actually pick up the phone. One big reason many people loathe cold calls is because they assume they are bothering the person they are calling. But instead of apologizing for taking a few moment’s of someone’s time, try approaching your task this way:
You are calling to share a legitimate opportunity that may benefit them.
If you keep it short, are polite and professional, no harm has been done. You may have actually shared a bit of new and practical info with them that they can use in a positive way. And if they engage your services or buy your product, remember that you’ve made their life or their job easier.
5. Start with low stakes calls
To make cold calls easy, you don’t want your practice call to go to your number one potential high-dollar sale. Start small. Heck, feel free to even start with people you know are nice, aren’t insanely busy, and perhaps are even already acquaintances (or whom you have a direct connection you can reference) to help ease you in.
6. Take notes so you know when to follow up
This relieves the pressure of remembering who to call next or when to email. Group your notes by potential customer, so that you can track whether they’ve asked you to call a different person or a different number, or to follow up a different way (e.g. email). Now, transfer these notes to your calendar, so that you get prompted to follow up at the right time.
7. Be ready to give them your contact info or link to your website
Some people aren’t ready to make decisions on the spot and prefer to mull over new information. Even if they say no on the phone, some people may be interested in what you’ve said, and willing to look over your services in their own time and get back in touch when they feel ready.
8. Pen and paper on hand
That’s an easy one!
9. Questions at the ready
Jot down any questions you have for the folks on the other line before you dial. It’ll make you sound more prepared – and you’ll get the info you need should you be lucky enough to get the decision maker on the line.
So, cold calling is downright easy, and a sure thing, right?!
Nope, you’re still gonna get rejected. That’s why most people would take a hot tub over cold calling any day. But if you do get the big fat “no,” try another attitude check: in your mind, replace “rejected” with “we were not a good fit.” This can help it feel less personal.
If you were successful, what you are offering was probably a good fit for the person you called. But the reality is that your product or service is not for everyone. And if, after a brief conversation, you find out that what you’re selling is not a good fit, that’s OK.
When thinking about making cold calls as finding the best fit, you banish thinking… My pitch isn’t good enough… and introduce thinking… They are not a good match for what I’m selling.
Now get out there and pick up the phone!