Focus on Prospecting: Make that winning sales call!

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How many times have you put off getting stuck into the cold calls? How many other tasks have become vitally important all of a sudden – like that filing you’ve meant to do for the last six weeks, or the invoicing that Cindy in accounts could probably handle – in fact it’s her job, but you know how the client likes to be billed…

Almost anything in sales is more fun – and seemingly more rewarding – than cold-calling. It’s guaranteed to bring you a whole heap of rejection with only the slimmest possibility of success. Heck, I even put off writing this focus on prospecting post, cold-calling is so daunting.

But there are ways to do it, and do it well. That’s why this week, we’re looking at 6 ways to deal with number 11: Learn how to cold call.

1. Know your target person

Nothing is sure to alert the personal assistant’s sales-call-radar as quickly as someone asking to speak to “whoever is in charge of procurement”. Make sure you know the name, surname and job title of the correct person before you call. If this information is not easily available, for example on the company’s website or in their reports, you may need to do a bit of advance fishing, but whatever it takes, know who you’re calling.

2. Know your target client

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Umm, same thing, no? No. Knowing who you need to speak to is one thing, but knowing the potential customer – in other words, the company – gives you a reason to call. Don’t make the call unless you have a way to satisfy a potential need. If you spend a little time researching the company, you will know if they are currently busy expanding into new territories, have a hiring freeze on, just replaced their accounting system… whatever might be relevant to your product or service, it helps to present a reason for calling other than “I sell something you may or may not need.” Far better to say “I understand you’ve just done this very important thing. Let me tell you how my product can help make things easier or more cost-effective.”

3. Ditch the script

A scripted call is instantaneously recognizable as a sales call and an immediate signal for some people to simply hang up the phone. You want to speak as naturally as possible – you’re having a conversation, not reciting bad poetry. Rather have a series of notes, including FAQs you may need to answer, a few guidelines on how to steer the conversation if the potential client asks certain questions, or any interesting or effective counters you or a colleague have thought of.

4. Speak with authority

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If you know your product or service and have read through your notes, you will be able to speak with more confidence and authority on the subject. If you sound uncertain, the potential customer will interpret it as, you don’t even believe in it, why should they? Know your product inside-out so that you can answer any questions quickly and accurately; and if you don’t have an answer, don’t stumble – just tell them you will need to get back to them on that.

5. Warm up the prospect

Infinitely preferable to cold-calling is calling a hot lead. At the very least, if you are able to warm them up a little and create awareness of your product or service before calling, you have a much better chance at success. Try warming up a cold-call list before the time by sending out a batch of handwritten postcards to introduce yourself.


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6. Make notes

Every call you make is another lesson to be learned. Make notes as you go along about what worked, what didn’t, what questions were asked and so on. It also helps to make a note of who you’ve spoken to and when, to make sure you don’t call them back too soon – or to make sure you don’t miss the vital follow-up call! Every note is another weapon in your sales arsenal and helps you learn to make more and better quality sales.

There are hundreds of ways to make sales, yes, but sometimes slogging through a series of well-thought-out and planned cold calls is the best way to make a few sales, or at the very least, generate a few leads. Don’t let yourself be intimidated and don’t put it off. Pick up that phone, make those calls and make those sales!

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