There are times in many professionals’ careers when they must make numerous phone business calls to folks they don’t know. And the experience is mutual–the people picking up the phone have no clue about them, either.
In other words, these calls may be fairly described as “cold.” Does that term send chills up your spine?
It’s an understandable response, especially in light of the fact that so many people execute them so very poorly. This haplessness takes a variety of forms, from the halting, awkward type to the overly cheerful, falsely familiar fool who comes on like an old buddy–and crashes and burns when you get wise to their act.
It need not be like this. By asking yourself a pair of common-sense questions, you can find that there is a much better way. Adopt this approach, or adapt it to one that may already proving effective for you, and see how much the fear and trepidation that accompanies the practice of cold-calling melts away.
1. What is my goal?
If your immediate objective is to make a sale, or to otherwise convince the person you are calling to take a significant action of some kind, then you are almost certainly bound to fail.
And the reason is simple: such a goal is utterly unrealistic. To try to achieve it, you must be pushy to the point of obnoxiousness. The person you are dialing didn’t wake up that day with any awareness of your existence, and you actually want to bring them to the sale’s altar like some lovestruck youngster who elopes on a first date?
That’s a surefire way to get a one-way ticket on the the express train barreling toward rejection.
Besides, there’s no guarantee that you would want to work with whomever you are calling. They could be a nightmarish client who sucks up your time and energy in levels well beyond any benefit you derive from the relationship. Amway Executive Diamond Bill Hawkins, a leader with World Wide DreamBuilders, boils it down this way: “I can’t promise you anything.”
Those words communicate a two-way street, in terms of evaluating whether there is mutual benefit in whatever kind of transaction you are contemplating.
The key is to think about how you developed friendships, wooed your spouse or got anywhere worthwhile in the past: one baby step at a time. A better goal than making a sale is to initiate a positive introduction, get on your prospect’s radar, and have them be receptive enough to read your follow-up communication, which will likely come via email.
2. Do I really need to tell the whole story?
Of course not. In fact, one of your marks of success is that you hang up before the person you are speaking to wants you to go.
Yet, how many times have we faced a barrage of information about some product or service that we first got wind of only a few moments earlier? That’s the quintessence of cold-calling incompetence–the fatally flawed assumption that if we just talk fast enough, just enthusiastically enough, and just long enough, something we say will “click” with the besieged listener who blurts out, “I’m sold!”
More than anything else, that style reeks of insecurity and desperation–that you are somehow trying to “pull a fast one” on someone before they come to their senses. This is why a credible, information-rich website is one of your strongest assets. It allows you to be brief, to demonstrate a respect for the other person’s time, and to convey a calm, conversational tone that expresses confidence.
In this era, unless you are dealing in some cloak-and-dagger operations, people ought to be able to check out your company, you individually, and your product or service’s value proposition. They can do it on their own time and at their own pace.
So regard the initial, cold phone call as just a seed that goes into the soil of your prospect’s mind. Take care to plant it well and see how that cold call gets transformed into a warm follow-up the next time you get in touch.