Cold calling is all about connecting with a potential customer (who hasn’t had prior contact with you) in an attempt to sell your product or service, either over the phone or by going door to door. While cold calling garners a lot of criticism, there are many benefits to selling your business this way, although there’s also a right and a wrong way to go about it.
Choose a good sales person
There’s nothing worse than facing a cold call from someone who doesn’t have the knack for it. The only way cold calling works is if the sales person is passionate about the product, shows a genuine interest in potential customers and their needs, and is a good communicator.
A warm and positive attitude
If you choose the right sales person, who can represent your products and services with eagerness and confidence, you’ll be halfway to making a sale.
Once you’ve chosen your sales person, it’s important to know the best ways to go about interacting with prospective clients.
Make sure your product meets the criteria of the prospect client
Approaching businesses and individuals with an interest in your business is much more likely to garner success than simply contacting everyone within a 100km radius. If the prospective client isn’t at all interested, know when to walk away.
Locate the right person to deal with in the company
The front office assistant might not be the right person to talk to, but the CEO might not have the time. Do some research so you know exactly who to ask for – LinkedIn is good place to start.
Engage in gentle regular conversation over a period of time and build rapport
It’s unlikely that you’ll get a sale from your first conversation, but it’s key to regularly communicate and build a solid relationship with your contact. Make sure not to come across as a pest – it’s about building rapport, not having everyone in the building groan when you get in touch.
Ask the right questions
I would always ask the obvious questions first – how can I help with the supply of the product which will be beneficial for their business, at competitive pricing and outstanding service offered?
Know how to sell your product
What is it that’s different about your business, and why should they switch from their current supplier? Perhaps talk about other clients in similar industries that are using your products as advocates to your brand.
Let me give you an example of how cold calling has worked for me. I was in my 5th year of business supplying uniforms and merchandise to large fitness centres and heard about a large prospective client through networking with another desirable prospect. I decided to call the business and ask to speak to the person in charge of uniform purchases.
We engaged in regular conversation for some time and I ended up being straight-forward with him: I told him I was the best in the business, and that I wanted him as a customer. Although he initially told me he was more comfortable working with the local business they were currently using, he agreed that we could keep in touch.
About four weeks later I touched base and it turned out he was having difficulties communicating with his current supplier. I reminded him of my offer, not to be pushy, but just to remind him of how valuable I saw him as client.
As it turns out, I ran into him a month later while exhibiting at a tradeshow in Sydney. After 6 months of communication over the phone, we were able to meet in person, and he decided to give me a go. We ended up working together for 15 years, trading in excess of $150,000 and peaking to approximately $350,000 with a rebrand, representing over $2,600,000 over the lifetime of the relationship.
So would I say cold calling works? At the end of the day, if you offer the right solution to a business, then you’ll win the work. Don’t be afraid of rejection – you’ll learn which cold calls may end up going somewhere, and where to cut your losses. But if you stick with the ones that work, building rapport, you may just be surprised to see you win their business in the end.
How do you go with cold calling and prospecting new customers to your business? Share your stories below of any cold calling successes (or misfires!).