How to Cold Call Effectively

Getting Started

How to Cold Call Effectively

Mar 15, 2016 | Getting Started

How to Cold Call Effectively

Mar 15, 2016 | Getting Started

For many consultants, cold calling evokes the image of a call center with endless rows of telemarketers, “dialing for dollars” on landline telephones. However, cold calling can be an effective business development technique for independent consultants. And gone are the days of cold calling only being done over the phone in this digital age.

Although it has its merits, the thought of cold calling can be intimidating for the most seasoned professionals. We want to help make this sales tool less daunting – and the process as seamless as possible – for new and seasoned consultants. Business development is something that we all must do, and it’s wise to use a variety of methods to help keep your client pipeline full.

Planning ahead

The importance of preparing yourself in advance can’t be emphasized enough. Knowing your intentions for making contact and what you’re going to say, as well as how you’re going to make your approach, is absolutely critical if you want your efforts to succeed.

  • Research your prospects – Gather information about potential prospects so that you use your time efficiently on viable opportunities. Pre-qualify as best you can in advance before you pick up the phone or send an email.
  • Make a list – Based on the information you’ve gathered, create a list of the people and organizations you intend to contact. Divide this list into categories with regards to sector, organizational type and other identifiers that will help you easily pinpoint which groups yielded the best results or showed the most promise.
  • Script yourself – Write a script beforehand of what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it. This can take the form of a shortened elevator pitch. Be sure to keep your messaging brief and to the point (e.g., how your services will solve the prospect’s issues).
  • Set goals – Make sure you determine your main purpose for making contact. It is unlikely that you will close the sale over the phone with the first initial contact. So keep in mind that this first initial contact is primarily about getting yourself in front of the organization’s key decision-makers (e.g., getting a meeting with them to discuss any current needs they may have or simply to let them know about you in case they may ever need your type of services in the future).
  • Develop a framework – Outline who you will be contacting and the specific timeline for making these contacts (e.g., the best days and times). Create a systematic routine and set aside a chunk of dedicated time for doing cold calls or sending out cold emails.

Methods and approaches

Prospecting for new business can take various forms, and there are many ways of cold calling, particularly online. Consider cold calling as a way of introducing yourself to someone new and creating an authentic connection, upon which you can then build a business relationship over time.

  • Information packages – Consider developing materials (e.g., brochure, information handout) along with a cover letter that you can send as a package to your prospects. Sending this type of material can also serve to set the stage for a follow-up call at a future time, providing a starting point to begin a conversation.
  • Phone calls – This is one of the most familiar cold call methods. When using this approach, limit yourself to only making a certain number of phone calls during the block of time you’ve allotted. This will ensure that you stay sharp, articulate, positive and that your voice remains clear.
  • Emails – This can include regular emails and the InMail feature in LinkedIn. Make sure your message is short, succinct and clearly outlines who you are and what you’re asking for. Do not continue to send emails if you do not receive a response and be mindful of regional and national laws regarding spam (e.g., Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation).
  • Contacts through referrals – Another method includes orchestrating situations where you approach a cold prospect on the basis of a referral, which can help make it a warmer call. Getting a more personalized introduction in this manner can serve as a type of endorsement of you to the new contact.

Cold calling tips

  • Contact decision-makers – Aim to connect with decision-makers who have the power to hire you. In larger companies, you may have 4-5 different contacts, while in a smaller company it may be the founder or business owner.
  • Practice trial runs – Do a dress rehearsal before you pick up the phone and make the call. This will help you fine tune your script and feel more natural and at ease when you make the call. Consider recording yourself as you practice so you can hear how you come across and make necessary adjustments for when it’s show time.
  • Pay attention to your voice and demeanor – Be mindful of your voice and body language while you’re talking on the phone, as it can affect how confidently you come across. Try standing while speaking, which will make you sound more energetic. Take some deep breaths or strike a few power poses before dialing the number. Remember to smile, as it will come through in your voice.
  • Identify points in common – Through researching your cold calling prospects, you can discover any areas you may have in common with them, such as people you know, a related company, common interests or membership in clubs or associations. This can help provide a place for bonding to begin.
  • Be genuine – During every attempt to make contact be sure to convey your sincere interest in connecting with the other person, and your willingness to help serve their particular needs. Always listen, be responsive and engage.
  • Uncover their needs – Make the call about them and not you. Approach your cold calls with the intention of truly discovering your prospect’s core business issues and tailoring your range of services to solve them.
  • Take notes – Take notes during the call so that you have a record of the conversation. Use your notes to adapt your follow-up by referencing specific points discussed. Even if you don’t use the phone for your cold calling, and instead use email or regular mail, it’s imperative to keep track of what you’ve done, whom you’ve contacted and what their response has been (if any).

Do you have any additional tips of your own? What have your experiences been employing cold calling as a tool for business development and lead generation? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.


Image courtesy of Free Digital Photos | niamwhan

Written By Kerry Bezzanno

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