It’s always a tough call…that first cold call.
Some salespeople thrive on it, others can think of a million things they’d rather be doing than a call. In the end, the cold call starts it all and once it’s made, how do you parlay that call into a discovery meeting? After all, the discovery meeting is the ultimate goal after making that first, sometimes uncomfortable first step, of making the cold call.
The cold call is exactly what it sounds like. You’re hitting up a potential customer out of the blue, so it’s important to ask for permission. Be respectful of people’s time by only asking for 30 seconds to share why you’re calling.
“But the ultimate goal isn’t to only have a 30 second commercial,” said L’areal Lipkins, Managing Partner at Acuity Systems, Inc. out of Dallas. “It’s to get them to agree to actually listen to you versus automatically hanging up.”
Making the initial cold call is tough enough, but that’s just the first domino to fall. You’ve got to make that all-important connection. Lipkins suggests doing research before making the call. Find a way to make a connection that lowers their defenses.
For example, it may be a mutual connection on LinkedIn, an article about their business in the local business journal, or a similar business in their space.
It’s also important to focus on the person, and not necessarily the outcome.>
“If you’re only goal is to get an appointment, it will show,” Lipkins said. “If you focus on just having a conversation, the opportunity to then transition into asking for the appointment naturally shows up and they are more likely to agree that it is the next logical step.”
For as uncomfortable as the cold call might be for most, it’s actually quite easy for many salespeople, and it’s the fastest way to generate revenue, simply because so many are intimidated and are actually bad at it!
Dandan Zhu began as a headhunter at the age of 23, and later set up her own recruitment firm at the age of 30. She’s the founder and CEO of Dandan Global Group and built multiple books of business including executive search within specific niches, mainly using cold-calling to build multi-million revenue streams.
While she was fast-tracking her career as a headhunter, she had some tricks that helped generate results as a top-biller. It’s clearly worked. She’s been featured in Time, Huffington Post, Forbes, Apple News, Newsweek and Business Insider.
“Cold-calling is not about the first call. In fact, the first call doesn’t matter; the deal, interest, and progression is conducted on the following calls,” she said. “Repetition is key to success in cold-calling. You’re going to probably reach 90% failure on the first call, 70% on the 2nd call to the same prospect, 40% on the 3rd call, and probably 20% failure on the 4th or 5th call.”
She said it’s obvious your chances of getting that sales meeting go up by 80% on the 5th call. In other words, cold-calling is not a sprint; it’s a marathon.
She also said to treat the first call with fear is totally unwarranted because chances are the odds of success are almost non-existent on the first call anyways.
“You have nothing to lose than to go all out on EVERY. SINGLE. CALL,” she said. “You’re setting the stage for the 5th call, and that’s the one that really matters!”
It’s not just patience that pays off on the cold call, but also the tone. It’s almost like theatre class where you must master the downspeak tone as your main method of communication in order to sound more authoritative and command other’s respect.
Downspeak means ending a sentence on a downwards note instead of upspeak in which people try to sound “nice” by acting super friendly and chirpy. Zhu says chirpiness is the No. 1 killer of deals.
“Especially in business dealings, one must always maintain strength, control, and confidence,” she said. “Thus, downspeak is crucial to maintain an aura of power.”
To land a discovery meeting the initial delivery of your cold call is important. Jacob Fenuccio is the Founder and CEO of Fractal Solutions, LLC. He says when you cold call, email, or contact anyone, always lead with your purpose and finish with you contact information.
90% of voicemails start with “Hi this is _______ with ________ calling about _______. But Fenuccio says don’t sound like the bulk of people’s voicemails otherwise your call is more likely do go ignored. Simply by starting your call with “Hi, I’m calling about ________”….and finishing with “my name is ______, you can reach me at _______” will increase your rate of return calls.
“Other tips about calling should be to focus on helping the customer and not just selling your solution,” Fenuccio said. “Plan out a framework or script to reference, but not verbatim, in advance to get the most out of each call. And, don’t overwhelm customers on the first contact.”
But probably most importantly, avoid closed questions like the plague. If you continue asking “yes and no” questions, you’ll shoot yourself in the foot. Yes and No questions are closed questions that ruin conversation and rapport-building.
Conversely, open questions, those beginning with “who, what, why, how, when” are life-savers.
“A big risk of the closed question is that once your prospect keeps answering “no”, they will enter a negative mindset, disagreeing with you at every future question once set upon a pattern of repeated incorrect assumptions,” Zhu said. “Don’t put yourself in that position in the first place. Stop asking closed questions. Instead of building rapport, you’re ruining it with closed questions.”
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The key to successful cold calling is understanding the industry and strategically approaching outbound calling. At Lead Engine, we understand the importance of effective lead generation, strategic cold calling, and commitment follow through.