I landed my first paying client from a cold call. My neighbor showed me pictures of her family sitting in a lush garden adorned in Victorian attire. I was so impressed, I called the photographer and gushed about her amazing imagery and how she needed a website to showcase her work.
Then I hung up, never expecting her to return my voice mail.
That was during the early days, when a website was still a novel idea and not many businesses had one. Today, companies are inundated with calls and emails promising everything from “page one on Google” to “thousand upon thousands of Facebook followers”. It’s difficult to be heard above the clamor.
So why — especially in today’s era of social media and inbound marketing — would anyone resort to cold calling?
I oversee our company’s telemarketing division, and I’ve made my share of cold calls. So my next piece of advice may come as a shock.
If you have any alternative to cold calling that can land you clients and generate revenue, then do it.
It’s not because inbound marketing is so effect and cold calling no longer works. It’s because cold calling can be brutal.
That first cold call of mine was mostly beginner’s luck. (I’m sure enthusiasm helped veil my lack of experience.) You may need to make 200 phone calls or more to land one appointment.
But here’s where cold calling shines. You can call someone today, schedule a meeting tomorrow, and have a new client the following day.
Cold calling gets clients today. Not three months, nine blog posts and 24 Google+ updates from now. But right now.
Here are 8 quick tips to get you started.
1. Use a Script
Write out what you’re going to say, then practice it until you no longer sound scripted.
If you really have guts, practice in front of a mirror, while smiling. (It makes you sound more pleasant.)
2. Use Your Voice for Maximum Impact
Once you’re confident with your script, unless you already have a deep voice, try to intonate your voice slightly downward. That’s because deeper voices convey more authority.
3. Answer Their Burning Question
Do you know why people say “no” when you call? Because you didn’t give them a reason to say “yes.”
To get more “yeses” you must answer the question that will be on every decision maker’s mind when you call: “What’s in it for me?”
4. Get Right to the Point
Avoid opening your call with meaningless questions like, “How are you today?” or “Is this a good time?”
While you may consider this “being polite,” it’s actually the opposite. The people you’re calling are busy. Don’t waste their time, get right to the point.
5. Ask for an Appointment
Conclude your 30-second pitch by asking for an appointment. Be direct: “Would you have time to meet next week?” — not indirect: “I don’t know if that’s something you’d be interested in or not.”
Beware of “softening” your close for fear of appearing too pushing. Being vague and indirect rarely elicits a positive response.
6. Don’t Answer Too Many Questions
The purpose of your call is to schedule a meeting, not sell your services. If someone starts asking questions, it’s not because they’re interested; they’re looking for a reason to say “no.”
The solution is to respond to (but not answer) the question, then ask for the appointment again.
7. Resistance Is Not Futile
The knee-jerk reaction to most cold calls is to resist your advances. You’ll set fewer appointment if you take “no” for an answer every time you hear it.
In fact, you’ll set 25 percent more appointments once you learn to overcome this initial resistance.
8. Don’t Stop Calling
It’s tempting to stop calling once you set that first appointment. But remember, it’s an appointment, not a sale.
Just like 200 calls gets one appointment, you may need five appointments to get one client.
The only way to get good at cold calling is to do it. So, what’s stopping you?
Former owner and partner of web firm Jenesis Technologies, John is currently Director of Digital Strategy at Haines Local Search, a company providing local search marketing solutions to SMBs, including print and Internet Yellow Pages, web design, and local SEO. When not working or spending time with his family, John offers great sales and marketing advice on his blog, Small Business Marketing Sucks. When not working or spending time with his family, John offers great sales and marketing advice on his blog, Small Business Marketing Sucks.