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Tim Millett
Published by Tim Millett
08 October 2013

Making cold calls is a reality for a variety of people in a variety of contexts — business owners, job seekers and perhaps even volunteers involved with fundraising. While very few people are born with the skills and motivations to cold call, it is a valuable skill as it allows you to proactively and directly control sales activity, thereby improving your sales and business success.

Essentially, the practice of cold calling is like any other — it requires quality training and practice to be done well. Being able to connect with someone over the phone definitely requires a specialised skill set and is now more important than ever because the Internet has markedly changed the way we buy.

Your cold calling success can improve through effective customer service training, which includes the tips of experts and those well practised in cold calling. Strategies for improving cold calling techniques include:

1: Establishing and using a calling schedule

It is a great idea to set a target number of calls to be made per week and then schedule time each day to make these calls. While this may outwardly seem a simple strategy, it is effective because it involves rhythm and a calling habit being developed. Procrastination is the enemy of cold calling and operating to a set schedule can help to overcome this problem.

When developing a calling schedule, acknowledge that the best times of day to call are those when potential customers are more likely to answer their phones — typically early or late in the day.

2: Always emphasising value

As a call begins, it is important that you are absolutely confident that your offering represents excellent value for the customer. When you understand the value you represent, you are far better placed to introduce your offerings succinctly, that not only emphasises value but addresses the fundamental question of the customer: What is in it for me?

Essentially, every customer has limited concern about what a product is or what it does and far more interest in the benefits that they may receive. Ultimately, people care about products that enhance or make their lives easier and these factors should be emphasised when making cold calls. Quality sales training will reinforce the value of foregrounding benefits, not just features.

To explain benefits successfully, it is helpful to research the market and decipher how and why there is a real need for the product. Using current or specific topics of conversation can help you gain interest from your prospect faster.

3: Responding to objections

Some people that you call will not be at all interested in speaking with you and others will quickly try to get you off the phone when they understand the purpose of your call. Objections are a reality for people making cold calls, but objections can be dealt with by considering all the potential objections you can think of and preparing answers to them. Those who are most successful in making cold calls also ensure that they have a number of meaningful, probing and engaging questions to ask that will create conversation and help to develop a relationship with the potential customer. Rest assured that once you’ve heard a few objections you’ve heard them all!

Role playing is one of the best ways to develop such a list of questions and also practise responding to objections. Role playing also helps a person to grow in confidence and increase their repertoire of skills for making cold calls.

4: Researching and responding to customers

As a cold caller you may be asked a question that catches you are not prepared for. As in any sales situation it is preferable to say you will find out and get back to the customer with answers than fabricate something on the spot. If their question was material and fo genuine interest, your credibility is increased and you are more likely to be seen as professional, honest and interested in adding value for your customers.

5: Knowing your competition

A crucial ingredient for making successful cold calls is knowing your competition: what they offer, their strengths and weaknesses and therefore articulate your unique selling points. Under no circumstance should you belittle your competition; to do so makes you and your company appear unprofessional, untrustworthy and having to rely on others’ weaknesses rather than your own strengths. In contrast, emphasising the benefits of the products or services of your company demonstrates that you have the best interests of the customer as your focus.

Dedicated attention to your cold calling techniques can deliver measurable advantages and benefits.

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