If you break out into an icy sweat at the mere thought of seeking out and contacting new potential prospects, you’re not alone. Even the most seasoned IT resellers typically don’t relish the thought of cold calling. But for many in the biz, there’s little choice in the matter. With competition in the IT space increasing and economic uncertainty on the horizon, having a long list of interested prospects at your fingertips isn’t a luxury—it’s a necessity.
The good news is that cold-calling is a habit that can be cultivated like any other. Just as you set aside time to attend to unpleasant but essential tasks like weeding your lawn or flossing your teeth, it’s vital to carve out a space in your schedule for cold calls. Think of it this way—if you’re not trying, there’s no chance of success. Even if a cold call flops, what’s the worst that can happen? Being hung up on never hurt anyone. On the other hand, an empty sales pipeline could do serious damage to your business’s short- and long-term prospects.
Are you ready to get back into the cold-calling habit? Here are some tips and ideas to help you get started.
Slot a cold-calling session into your weekly schedule. If you tend to procrastinate when it comes to making cold calls, set a non-negotiable appointment with yourself to take care of business, whether it’s everyday or once a week. Some sales gurus recommend getting your cold calls out of the way first thing in the morning. Bonus: you’ll have a much better chance of bypassing gatekeepers and connecting directly with the VIP if you place your calls early.
Start by breaking the ice and building rapport. We all know that cold calls are made with sales in mind, but that doesn’t mean you have to jump into your “elevator pitch” right away. Spend a few minutes introducing yourself, making small talk, and exchanging pleasantries before you begin to talk business. Otherwise, you might risk alienating your prospective client right out of the gate.
Tailor your value proposition to each prospective client. In this day and age, there’s simply no excuse for generic cold calls that might have little or no relevance to your prospect’s business. With just a few minutes of Internet research, you can learn the basics of each potential buyer’s core business activities. Use this information to tweak and streamline your sales pitch, emphasizing the products and services that have the most value for each person you talk to.
Approach cold calls from a consultative perspective. The old sales paradigm was based on an aggressive, adversarial, winner-take-all approach. Today, most sales experts prefer a win-win model. Try to tailor your cold-call pitch to this philosophy, framing your proposition as a mutually beneficial, long-term partnership with your prospective client.
Reward yourself for a job well done. After you’ve powered through your pre-scheduled cold-call roster, take a moment to congratulate yourself. If time allows, kick back with a pleasurable activity for a few moments, whether it’s a feet-on-the-desk relaxation session or a round of your favorite online time waster. It may sound silly, but the human brain has a tendency to form very strong associations between tasks and rewards. Before you know it, you’ll have a sense of anticipation, rather than dread, the next time you face down a long list of prospects.
What’s your take on cold calls? Do you make them regularly or avoid them like the plague? What’s your favorite cold-calling technique? Tell us all about it in the comments.