One of my first sales jobs was cold calling from lead lists. I would dial 200 numbers a day, make about 40 connections, and send out literature to about 10 of those folks I was able to reach. That was my quota. I don’t think I personally met one of my more than 100 clients during my two-year tenure in that position. All of our transactions were over the phone.
Given that experience, I can give you a lot of advice on how to make cold calls work and build the right rapport:
- You have to keep your energy level high. It’s best if you’re standing up and pacing, which requires a wireless headset or a 20-foot phone cord (if you insist on having a corded headset – just don’t trip).
- You have to smile and dial. People can actually hear your smile while you’re talking. It even helps to have a mirror at your workstation with “Smile and Dial” or some other cheeky phrase written on it so you can stay aware of how your facial expressions might be impacting your effectiveness on the phone.
- You need to ask a question as quickly as possible that will get the person thinking of the answer rather than asking himself, “Who is this caller and what does he want?”
- It helps to have a 3-sentence solicitation approach. “Over the past ______ we have had the pleasure of working with _______companies within _______ miles of your facility. It occurred to me the other day as I was driving by your facility that you have the same ________ we removed from those buildings. I’m calling today to see if you’d like to have a conversation about us extending that same success to you.”
- Use a referral if you have one. If you open the call with, “Hi _______, I was referred to you by ________,” you have a more solid reason for calling. Mentioning an article your prospect wrote, a PowerPoint presentation they created or other press or events that they would identify with also qualify as a referral.
Aside from this you need to be prepared. Who are you calling? Where are you getting your leads? Focus on prospects who are similar to those you have already helped. If you don’t have that luxury, discover what is in these prospects’ best interest. Do they even care about energy? Do they care about their reputation? Would they benefit from a green press release? Have they had health and safety issues in the past?
Once you have enough information it’s easy to make a call that's conversational, engages the customer and provides useful information. All of a sudden, you’re less of an interloper stealing this person's time and more of someone offering an unexpected benefit—something that’s going to get them excited.
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