Posted: Fri 12th Apr 2019
Cold calling is pretty daunting. Proper preparation can help small business owners beat the fear and improve the level of conversion.
We've compiled six top tips for making better cold calls, from CRMs to what time of day you call.
This article is part of The Sales Series, content on the public blog and member only content section of Enterprise Nation to boost your selling skills.
Preparation is crucial to cold calling success. If the prospect isn't relevant you're wasting your time. If you don't understand what they do, the challenges they face and why your product's relevant they will sense that something's wrong.
Write down a list of the key points you need to know about a business before picking up the phone. These could include:
The contact person's name and job title
What the business does
Any work-related subjects they talk about on social media
Connections to existing customers (check LinkedIn relationships)
Start collecting your research in a structured way, which takes us on to...
Customer relationship management (CRM) systems track details of the people you're selling to and the contact you've had with them. Many small business owners use their diary, a spreadsheet or a notebook but it's a good idea to use a tool that's designed for the purpose.
If you're cold calling there's likely to be a lot of contact points and a need for diligent follow-up. Spreadsheets aren't user-friendly and will get complicated quickly. There are a number of online CRM tools like Pipedrive that have a low monthly subscription fee and are intuitive to use.
This will help with financial planning too, because it allows you to track what stage contacts are at in the buying process. For example, your pipeline could include 'target identified', 'discussion started', 'initial proposal sent' etc. Enterprise Nation members can watch a 30-minute webinar on building a sales pipeline here (if you're not yet part of the community, click here for more information).
Luke-warm calls, if you will, may be more effective than approaching people who have never heard of your business. You can target people on social media or email to raise awareness, and take note of people that interact with your business. Here are a number of opportunities:
Event delegates: Events can provide a common talking point to start a conversation. If you had a stand or appeared as a speaker they may have interacted with your brand too. Either way you can start with a conversation, and hopefully the event relates to your service, rather than pitching.
Social media: Keep an eye on who follows you and send a personalised direct message introducing what you do.
Target website visitors: This isn't strictly a cold call, but it's worth remembering your website's a great way to collect leads. Add a form for people that want more information. There are also tools that allow you to see which companies visit your website. These are designed for people making B2B sales and the cost means they're not for everyone.
When you have a target list take the time to follow them from every social account you have. Establishing additional touch points helps build trust, even if they just look at your social media profile. Look for opportunities to interact with them on social media. Don't force the opportunity, but liking a tweet or replying to a piece of content they posted will help.
Watch a webinar on 16 April that will help your fight the fear of strategy sessions and sales calls. It's free for Enterprise Nation members.**
The decision maker you're trying to reach likely has a long to-do list and a day packed with meetings. Think about when they're likely to be able to spend time talking to you.
Phoning before 9am might work. Specific industries will have times of the month and day that are more hectic than others. Don't call a restaurant owner during a lunch shift or an accountant at the end of the financial year! Friday afternoon might work if you can catch people when they're winding down for the weekend.
The most important thing is to do your research and find out what works in your industry.
Having an idea of what you're going to talk about before you pick up the phone helps make the call effective and can help increase your confidence. You don't need to write down everything you're going to say and it'll sound unnatural if you do. Instead, write down a bullet point outline of what you want to cover and keep working on it as you improve.
Having several stories that explain what your business does really helps. This could include why you launched, the problem it addresses and customer case studies. Enterprise Nation members can access an exclusive guide to creating stories to sell (find out more information about becoming an Enterprise Nation member here).
Finally, make sure you get on the phone and start trying to make sales. If you've done your research and know your business can help a customer it's worth chatting to them.
And it doesn't have to be a frustrating cold call; demonstrate you know their business and let your personality shine through.