Cold calling can be hit or miss for many small business owners. Some professionals swear by it. Others hate the idea of calling people up and pitching their products or services. Personally, I don’t advocate cold calling in most cases because it can be an expensive, time consuming way to market yourself. And while it can work, calling someone who has never heard of you or expressed a need for your services almost always leads to rejection.
If you’ve ever cold called someone, you know the drill. You call someone up, introduce yourself and explain what you do. Perhaps you might offer a benefit of your product or service. When you’ve finished your spiel, you hope the person on the other end will say something like, “We were just talking about hiring someone like you.” In reality, what you usually hear is “Sorry, I’m not interested.” Here is a cold calling technique for improving your success rate.
Warming Up Small Business Leads
If you do decide to add cold calling to your small business marketing strategy, a better approach is to warm up leads before you cold call. If you have several prospects you would like to work with, send each of them a personalized letter explaining how your services could specifically help their business. A few days later, follow up with a call.
Or, provide a valuable incentive such as a free report, access to a members-only section of your website, or physical CD for anyone who will give you their contact information. Then, follow up with a call and ask them if they had any questions or let them know their order is on its way.
In both cases, you are offering something of value first and then following up with a call. The valuable information you offer warms them up to you and your services so they are more likely to be receptive to your call.
3 Cold Calling Mistakes Small Business Owners Make
When you do follow up with a call, here are three small business sales mistakes to avoid.
- Talking about yourself – Once they get someone on the phone, most cold callers immediately break into a pitch about who they are, what they do, and why their product or service might interest them. Unfortunately, most people aren’t interested in the caller who just interrupted their train of thought. They are too preoccupied with their own business challenges and daily to-do list to care about who you are and what you do. If you don’t engage them initially, you’ve already lost them. To get a better response, ask them a question about an issue or problem they may need to solve. Focus on uncovering a need rather than pitching your services.
- Conveying cockiness – It’s one thing to be confident in your product or service. It’s another thing to expect that your product or service is the end-all-be-all solution to everyone’s problems. Yet often, cold callers put immediate sales pressure on prospects to open their wallets. While you should be enthusiastic and confident about your products and services, keep in mind that your prospect on the other end didn’t ask for a sales pitch. They don’t know anything about you, and won’t be receptive to your message until you’ve actively engaged them. Focus on holding a conversation to see if what you offer can help them solve a problem they are currently having.
- Overcoming objections – When you first call up a prospect, you likely won’t know much about their problems, concerns, budget and time constraints. It’s possible that what you offer isn’t a good fit for this company or that they don’t have the means to hire you at this point. If you go into the call ready to overcome objections and convince this prospect to give you a chance, you will create an adversarial relationship off the bat. It’s better to listen to and validate their concerns rather than trying to counter whatever they say and putting them on the defensive.
By using this cold call technique to warm up leads first, you can improve the odds that the person you talk with will be more receptive to starting a dialog with you.