This post by guest blogger Steve Gruber appears as part of our series Small Business 500.
Cold calling for most people raises a spectre of fear and dread. To have ultimate success in sales however, especially if you are tasked with finding new business, you need to do it and you need to be effective at it. If you follow these five cold calling tips, you will find the process becomes much easier and your success rate climbs much higher.
1. Ensure that your cold call is solving a business pain, and don’t be overly technical
Your product, service or solution ultimately has to solve a business pain the customer currently encounters. This pain will come in the form of three potential elements: the need to increase revenues; the need to reduce costs; and the need to provide some form of efficiency.
2. Do your research
Understand your target market, the companies within that market and who your main point of contact is at each company. Utilize social media, follow news releases, read the company’s annual or quarterly reports, and visit the company’s website. Remember, you do not need to spend a lot of time doing research; keep it focused and concise. Look for things that will help you identify the business pain, and the potential fit for your product or service.
3. Understand the purpose of your call
Ensure that your solution is beneficial to the companyand the contact you have targeted. For example, if you are selling a lower dollar value solution, your purpose may be trying to sell them on the phone and have them purchase then and there. If you are selling a larger and more complex solution however, your goal may be to simply book a face-to-face meeting by enticing the contact with your key value proposition points.
4. Dedicate time
A solid cold calling effort should include a variety of interactions. I generally recommend emails and phone calls in a rotating combination. Be sure to change up the frequency and timing of your calling. One technique that works for many sales people – including myself – is calling first thing in the morning, before 8am. Generally speaking, senior level decision makers are in early and use their early morning time to get caught up. Alternatively, try later in the afternoon. I have been able to successfully contact a number of CEOs by taking this route.
5. Be prepared to objection handle
You will often get objections to your pitch. Rather than see these objections as obstacles, utilize them as opportunities to further engage the prospect and learn about their business. Make a list of your Top 10 objections – those you hear the most often – and practice handling them effectively.
Cold calling is definitely one of the toughest aspects of a sales job. Even sales people who excel at cold calling don’t necessarily love it all the time. Cold calling requires you to be prepared, think fast, drive right to the core of a business pain, and position yourself as a potential solution. Be persistent in your efforts and never give up.
Steve Gruber is the co-founder of Venture Accelerator Partners and he is based in Toronto. VA Partners provides B2B Sales, Marketing, and Social Media assistance to start-ups and fast growing organizations. Since 2006, VA Partners has worked with over 50 organiations.
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