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The Art Of The Cold Call

In the business world, cold calling is considered a commonplace technique used for reaching out to potential clients.  Many businesses strongly encourage good old-fashioned “smiling and dialing.” Email and instant messaging can only go so far, but they cannot replace the human component of interaction.  The art of cold calling (and don’t be mistaken, it is definitely an art) takes mastery of a specific skill set in order to be most effective.

For many involved in outbound sales there are often mixed opinions on whether or not cold calling is actually effective when planting the initial seed in a business relationship. Through my own trials and tribulations, I have come to learn a thing or two about how to approach the dreaded cold call in order to guarantee the best opportunity for success.

Stay Positive and Enthusiastic.

For some, just the thought of cold calling is fairly intimidating.  I for one have experienced first hand the variety of responses you will inevitably receive when trying to strike up a conversation about business.  At times the ‘telemarketer stigma’ can be somewhat demeaning and disheartening. 

However, this stigma relates to my first point on the subject.  Much of the success of cold calling comes from your own perspective on the process.  If you dread going to work everyday thinking about the looming number of calls you have to make, you are unlikely to be successful when you make those calls. 

Like many things in life, a positive attitude can go a long way, especially when cold calling.  If you think positively and approach picking up the phone with enthusiasm, the person on the receiving end of your call will notice, and it will improve the likelihood that you will have an engaging conversation about how your businesses could potentially work together.

Prepare. Prepare. Prepare.

To go along with your newfound positive attitude towards picking up the phone, another key aspect of being successful when cold calling is effective preparation.  You need to do the necessary research on the company you are reaching out to before you make the call.

This may seem like a pretty obvious and simple concept, but you would be surprised how many cold callers are completely ignorant to this key aspect of sales.  Knowing your own product inside and out doesn’t necessarily make you an expert cold caller.  Having a solid knowledge base of the company you are selling to and the person you are speaking will. You have to remember that these are real people that you are talking to. Being able to establish a human relationship with them will allow you to break the ice when you are reaching out. 

Knowing who you’re talking to, where they went to school, and where they’ve worked in the past are all little things that will give you a leg up when making that initial call.  LinkedIn is an amazing tool, so use it. It can help you learn a little more about the people you’re calling, which will make you a better salesperson. In today’s technological age nobody should have to pick up the phone and blindly make a call without doing a little research first.

It’s All About Your Technique:

Last but not least I want to touch on what might be the most important factor when cold calling, technique.  I’d like to use an analogy here to clarify my point.  If you are 6’8”, most people will assume you’re a great basketball player. But not everyone who is 6’8” is playing for the Lakers.  Why not?

The thing that differentiates a regular tall person and a professional basketball player is technique. Professional basketball players have to put in time to develop their skillsets and approach in order to hone their talents before going pro. The same thing applies to cold calling. 

You can be an outgoing, personable individual in real life – but that doesn’t guarantee that you will be a successful cold caller. The sales process is very delicate and cold calling is often the essential first step towards planting the seed.  You must be aware of the approach you convey when selling whatever it is that you’re selling.  Each call will be different and thus will require a different approach. 

There is no golden script that guarantees the interest of the person you are selling to. It is up to you to process how the call is going on the fly and cater the conversation to maximize success. 

Technique is something that sales people have to develop on their own and my blog entry isn’t meant to provide a template from which to base your technique.  However, it should give you a better idea of what it takes to be successful while making outbound calls. Hopefully, you’ll be making sales while smiling and dialing in no time.