Verbal Business Skills, Series #1: Cold-Calling

Local business coach/consultant, Pete Schroeder, offers tips and advice to help your business.

Having the courage to knock on the door of a person or business you don’t know, in hopes of initiating a relationship that will lead to a sale, is arguably the most “out-of-my-comfort-zone” experience a salesperson will ever have. Yet, it is often a mandated element of their business life. And this applies to large, national companies as well as tiny, local businesses. While you can network, speak to groups and clubs, ask your family, friends, neighbors and colleagues for introductions to prospects, cold-calling is a time-tested avenue that can lead to sales.

It’s natural to be nervous about such a daring plunge into the unknown. But take heart – there are wonderful rewards for knocking on a stranger's door: You will get sales. You will meet some interesting people. You will learn to clarify, focus and expedite the messages you deliver.

My 5 Keys to Success When Cold-Calling:

  1. Be prepared. That is, know why you are introducing yourself. Many will purchase your products or services (your customers and your competitor's customers), so there is a definite value to your product or service, confirmed by this fact. Know the customer's benefits - what problem/need/pain is solved by purchasing whatever you’re selling, and what distinguishes you from your competition.
  2. Have an outcome (intention) in mind. The outcome you want is always: a follow-up action – a future meeting or phone call - a stepping stone that will take you closer to a sale. Then, follow up!
  3. Look the part. Dress appropriately, speak appropriately, and listen carefully. Be a person you would want to do business with.
  4. Remember that statistics don’t lie. Most industries have historical data showing that "X" number of calls produces "Y" number of prospects, which produce "Z" number of sales. Any insurance agent will tell you this. Or car salesperson, or realtor. It’s a numbers game, and every knock-knock-knock gets you closer to a sale.
  5. Have something compelling to leave. Getting a phone number or a name to contact is good. Leaving something customized for that prospect (along with getting the name and number) is better. General brochures and business cards, printed for the multitudes, no matter how adorable, won’t cut it. Customize anything you leave. At least, personalize it with a brief note.

Give these 5 Keys To Success a try the next time you head out on the street.

From the Coach’s Box:

If cold-calling is part of your job, slot a specific time for it on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, late morning or mid-afternoon. (Mondays and Fridays are not the best days to find folks available. Early mornings, lunch hours, and late afternoons also are not “prime time” for cold-calling.) Set a timed goal you will spend, not the number of doors. Some calls will take more time while others will simply be “not available". You’ll have to call for an appointment. "Yes, I’ll see that he or she receives this literature/sample/etc.”

Employ all 5 Keys To Success, and let me know how it went.

Good selling!

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