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Cold Calling 101

Some salespeople consider cold calling a waste of time. It can be -- if you don't use the right approach. The best cold calls can yield long-term customers. But how can you make sure they're successful?  


A crucial step before making cold calls is setting clear goals. Your main objectives are to make a good first impression and to secure an appointment. Use the following tips to help you further focus before making your calls:

  • Consider what percentage of your revenue you expect cold calling to produce. If you have a realistic estimate in mind, say 25 percent, then you have a clear goal. Having this goal will help keep you motivated, even when you make a few dead-end calls.
  • Target your prospect. Work hard to ensure all the people on your call list are potentially interested in your product or service. Avoid making an unwanted phone call, and you will be less likely to waste your time.
  • Implement a schedule for making calls, but remain flexible. Remember that you are initiating a relationship with a potential customer. While it is important to be productive with your time, it is equally important for your potential customers to feel your calls are productive for them.

Be Innovative

Offer your prospects what others within your field may be neglecting. These examples can further inspire you:

  • Develop a survey to find out what your prospects want and need. In addition to helping you hone your selling technique and product, a survey can help break the ice on a cold call.
  • Write your prospects a letter before making the call. Introduce yourself and outline your services or products. This way, when you call, you can be following up on the information in the letter.

Cold-Calling Techniques

When it comes time to make the call, follow this advice from Jerry Hocutt, president of Hocutt & Associates in Kent, Washington:

  • Make certain you are in a quiet area before you make your calls.
  • Stand up while you're on the phone, as this allows the blood to flow through your body and may accentuate a tone of authority.
  • When leaving a message, follow instructions. For instance, if the person on the recording asks you to leave a brief message, avoid leaving a long message. Speak clearly, and mention your name and phone number at least twice.
  • When leaving a message with a receptionist, ask for a specific time your prospect will be available to speak with you and be sure to call at that time. Learn the receptionist's name, and address him by name every time you call the prospect. Remember to be courteous to everyone you speak to, as each person is a gatekeeper to your prospect.
  • When talking to your prospect, make sure you are of assistance; don't leave her feeling that she was giving you her time, but rather with the impression that you may help her solve a problem.
  • When introducing yourself to a prospect that has been handed down to you, feel free to open with "I have just inherited your account. May I update your current information?"
  • Befriend your potential customer. Do not attempt to immediately sell your product; remember that to the person on the phone, you are a faceless stranger and people are naturally skeptical. Your reasoning for making the call is to make contact, not acquire a credit card number.

Closing the Call

When your prospective client begins to ask questions, you can start closing the call by setting up an appointment. The following are examples you can use to secure your next meeting:

  • "I am going to be in your area this afternoon around 3:15 or 4:30. Which time is best for you?"
  • "I realize you're concerned about price; most of my clients were as well. I have an opening this afternoon to meet with you to discuss this further. How about 5:15 or 5:45?"

You need to remain resilient; 
Hocutt attributes his ability to make 30 cold calls per day to his commitment and consistency