Cold Calling For New Business
For most entrepreneurs and sales personnel, cold calling is a dreaded chore that is necessary to bring in new business. Cold calling refers to calling or visiting a prospective client who has not expressed an interest in your offering. This is usually done through phone calls, but it can also be through walking in uninvited.
Here in the Philippines, while we are usually hospitable to visitors, the fear of scam artists and other criminal elements has made people especially wary of entertaining strangers. Nevertheless, the need to get new customers has made selling through cold calls essential. There are so many things to learn to master cold calling; start by studying the basics:
Set your objectives. Determine not only your primary objective but also your secondary objectives. For example, your main objective may be to make a big sale, or probably to try for a smaller sale or just to make a good impression and pave the way for a future transaction.
Strive to obtain a good database of prospects. This would be the foundation of your cold calling efforts, so it would be worth it to spend time and money coming up with a list. Generally, quality is preferable to getting a huge number of unsuitable prospects.
Further qualify prospects. Since your time is precious, you must eliminate those that are unlikely to respond or are too small a potential. There are many ways to filter your database. Besides probable sales, you can use proximity to your work area, industry, position, number of employees, etc.
Research on the prospect. The more you know about your prospect, the better your chances are to make a sale. You could use the information to improve your presentation and offerings so that it will be tailored more to the potential client’s needs. You may uncover a lot of things in your research that could be useful. It would also show your professionalism when you are talking with the prospect.
Try to get a referral. It would be a big boost to your efforts if you could get someone respected by your prospect to endorse you. In virtually all cases, this would guarantee that you will be given an appointment and better treatment. Try to find somebody you know that you could persuade to call your prospect.
Call for an appointment first. For the overwhelming majority of cases, it would be best not to just walk in. Not only is your reception unlikely to be pleasant, but your chance of making a sale is remote. One of the few cases where this is feasible is when there is a purchaser or person already assigned to deal with a set of regular suppliers. If you are selling a pharmaceutical product, then it is alright to visit a drug store without an appointment, although still there is often a scheduled day and time for such visits. However, if your item is not routinely ordered like insurance, then expect a chilly reception.
Be nice to the gatekeeper. Understand that it is very difficult to make a sale if you are not in the good graces of their secretaries or receptionists. No matter how rude you were treated, you must maintain your politeness unless you are ready to lose the sale.
Establish your credibility. Bring along all the documents needed to prove your legitimacy. Among these are certifications, studies, IDs and testimonials. The most effective among these, if coming from a respected authority, are the testimonials.
Make your presentation quick. Since you will just be presenting on borrowed time, it is imperative that you make it as quick as possible. If you think it is necessary to break the ice, make your small talk brief or cut it out altogether.
Remember that cold calling is a numbers game. Despite all your preparation and effort, you will find out that you cannot close every sale. In fact, in most industries, only a very small percentage of sales is closed during cold calls. This is just to be expected and you should always try again.
*Originally published by the Manila Bulletin. C-6, Sunday, January 20, 2013. Written by Ruben Anlacan, Jr. (President, BusinessCoach, Inc.) All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.