Taking the Chill Out of Cold Calls
By Craig Harrison
Does the thought of making a cold call — a telephone or in-person call to a stranger — chill you? For ISOs it's a valuable way to market your firm, products and services. You're calling to inquire of the fit between your offerings and their needs. You can gather information about prospects and qualify them at the same time.
Become a Scriptwriter! Develop a short script to introduce yourself, emphasize offerings, showcase your unique selling propositions, and inquire of your prospect's needs. A script allows you to become familiar with what you say and how you say it, before you actually call. The script gives you confidence and the freedom to ad-lib when calling.
Sounding Off. Cultivate a phone voice that is calm and confident. Don't rush. Before you call: visualize a successful conversation, take a few deep breaths and smile! Smiling loosens your jaw and relaxes you. Impressions are formed, sight unseen. Speak of the benefits of your offerings. Remember, listeners are always interested in what you can do for them.
Your script might sound something like this:
"Hi I'm Carmen Ford (smile) of RightChoice.com. We turn browsers into buyers (breathe and smile.) Our internet sales systems help companies establish a web presence. Are you currently selling products on the Web?"
Cold Caller's Toolkit. At your desk, have your script and notes about the company you're calling, crib sheets, a calendar and notepad. A lightweight headset frees up your hands. A mirror reminds you to smile frequently.
Donít forget to listen! Ask questions and record answers to gather vital information. What's the company mood, their current focus and latest campaign? Gleaned information helps you profile the company and know how best to sell. When talking about their problems, needs and concerns youíll be better able to demonstrate how you can solve, resolve or address them.
Getting Past Gatekeepers. Sometimes the hardest part is reaching the right person. It may take multiple calls. Each call should net some information, if only who someone's AA is, or what time they're accessible. Record it all. Most gatekeepers are just doing their job, screening calls and protecting the valuable time of superiors. Receptionists, AAís and secretaries can help or hurt your effort so remain professional and courteous. Donít leave longwinded messages on peoplesí voice mail systems. If unsuccessful, stagger the times and days you call; Many decision-makers arrive before gatekeepers, and leave after their gatekeepers have gone home.
Handling Objections. Anticipate common objections and be prepared with answers that further advance your cause. Don't let a "no" end the conversation if you believe a fit remains. While not arguing, sidestep the objection, presenting an alternative perspective that paints your organization in a favorable light. By anticipating objections you can use them to emphasize your strengths, while allaying their fears.
Why Do Business with You? Present what's special about your products or services. Do you offer a dimension others lack? Say so! Can you fill a gap in their product line? What's unique about your offerings? Emphasize your competitive strength.
When to Disconnect. Your goal should be an appointment for an interview. Keep your call long enough to get the appointment but no longer. Respect others' time and donít talk yourself out of the sale.
Rehearse with friends, then use your tape recorder or answering machine. Do you sound confident, qualified, and professional? Success awaits you…It's your call!