Well great salespeople I’ve been doing cold calling lately. Since the pandemic hit I’ve been working with our local Small Business Development Center. When a new program to help small manufacturing businesses was offered, I agreed to recruit companies for the initial cohort. So here I am again doing sales calls to create interest in the Innovation Commercialization Assistance Program for Existing Enterprises. I’m a sales professional who relies on the fundamentals of good selling. I’ll tell you how I prepared for this new challenge.
What Is Cold Calling?
Great salespeople have lists of prospects matching their current best customers. They have done some research about the person they are about to call. There is a purpose to the cold call. Then they dial the phone. For the salesperson it’s part of their days work. For the person you are calling, it’s intrusive. I know the person who answers the phone is not sitting around idly waiting for my call. No when they pick up the phone and realize it’s a “cold call” they usually feel ambushed. That person on the other end of the phone wants to escape from this call as politely as possible. And you great salesperson, want to achieve your purpose for calling.
Why Do Cold Calling?
The reason I did cold calling all those years in sales was to find the next awesome customer. But there are other reasons too. Right now I’m calling to find candidates for a program. Some salespeople cold call to get the first meeting with a prospect. Whatever the reason to cold call start with a purpose in mind. For most B2B salespeople it’s to get the first meeting to begin the qualifying process. Some other companies need to get the order on the cold call. Whichever purpose you have, you need a process to get the result.
How Does Cold Calling Work?
It’s really simple. Start with a list of prospects that meet the demographics of your target market. For this current project I downloaded a data base of small manufacturing companies in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Then I went through each entry to further check the match for my target audience. Next I started calling each one. I started with those I felt were least likely to be interested in the program. Why bother with these companies, you might be wondering. Practice! I wanted to refine the “script” I used on each phone call. And get comfortable with the kinds of questions needed to find candidates for the program.
Script You Say?
Yes, all great salespeople use a cold calling script. No, they don’t read it. It’s the guide to efficient cold calling. The purpose of the script is to build curiosity. To move the prospect to the next step in the process.
My scripts are organized like this:
Introduction: Hi, this is Don Crawford from the SBDC. Thanks for taking my call. Do you have a few minutes or is this a busy time?
[This is the only line in the script I use verbatim. The prospect is given the chance to feel in control. I get one of three answers: “Yes, I do. What’s this all about? Or “No, I’m heading into a meeting (etc.)” Or the most popular responses is: “I’m always busy, what do you want?”
A question to build rapport: Could be as simple as: “How are you doing today?” Or something I learned about the person I found on LinkedIn.
Next is the positioning statement: Currently I say: “The SBDC has a program to help small business grow by finding new markets for existing products or testing a new product. Have you ever been interested in doing either of those and not had the time or resources?” Notice how the positioning statement focusses on the prospect.
Finally the call-to-action: For my current project I use: “Sounds like this might be a program for your business. If you share your email address with me I’ll send you more information about it.” If you are looking to qualify the prospect, then you might set a time to meet.
End the call: Always thank them for their time. And confirm your next step.
Does Cold Calling Work?
Yes, if done right it does. But it is work. And you will make far more calls which don’t end with the result you are looking for. So if you have been in sales for a while, you probably know about referrals. They lead to “warm” calls. Ask your best customers to refer you to someone who could use your product or service. Then ask them to send an email to that person introducing you and let them know you will be calling. With “warm” calls you are a half step closer to the result you are looking for.
What Can You Do Right Now About Cold Calling
- Make sure the list you use matches the demographic of the prospect you want.
- Always plan each cold call and record the result.
- Use a script to guide you through the call.
- Remember it’s a “numbers game”. Set aside time each week to make cold calls.