I don’t think cold calling is an outdated sales tactic, though, I believe it should be refreshed and refurbished for the 21st century! Social media and direct email can also be used to boost cold calling and bring it to the 21st century, though, please don’t stop using the phone! I like to believe that selling it is about mixing up several tactics, techniques and resources to communicate, engage and gain customers’ “love”, and interest in our products. Thus, the winners would be the ones who will find the most inventive and ingenious ways to engage and communicate with their audiences creating value for all the involved parties! Therefore, don’t be afraid of mixing old with new sales tactics, and add some technological flavor on the top!
Before embarking on a cold call tactic, one should first answer the following question: Why cold calling? Is it the right technique for what you’re selling? One should also understand that, cold calling it is called that way just because the person one is contacting doesn’t know one will be contacting and try to sell something. Cold calling it is still a strong technique, and tactic when correctly used by a well informed and prepared sales fellow, otherwise, one should call it “blind call” which is really a wasting of time with zero return. After being sure that cold calling is the correct technique and that it can be fruitful, one should start designing a plan. Yes, a tactic used to achieve and implement your sales and commercial strategy.
My plan! I would probably allocate my resources not only to traditional cold calling (phone), but also on the internet and social media in order to target my audience the best way I could. As you probably know by now, social media can be highly profitable when coming to engaging, passing a message, creating buzz and word-of-mouth, selling and getting referrals. Saying that, and after being sure that cold calling make sense to what I am trying to sell, I would have a second question answered. What kind of preparatory work do I need? And, I would probably start with the WHAT and WHOM! What are the products and to Whom am I selling to? One must have a good idea on what kind of niche or market one is in, meaning a strong analysis on competitors, suppliers, potential clients, market, etc.
After knowing everything about the product and to whom they were produced for, I would segment WHO are my potential clients, the ones I want to target without being loosing my time nor their’s. A short list with segments and reasons why they might be interested. And because I don’t want to spoil my contacts because I didn’t understand my product or market, or I wasn’t prepared, next step would be Preparations phase. Like other sales techniques, cold calling is about preparation, finding the best channel to communicate, right message to be delivered, and the correct moment to interact with the chosen “cold calls” (time range).
After I am sure that I’m using an appropriated sales technique and that I’m prepared (with right info and knowledge) to do it, I would next start designing my execution plan! I would build a script with the schematics of the approach to your contacts. a) list strong open questions and understand well what are the reasons why they may need the product, along with some dead-ends solutions to move on when you get a “No, thanks” for an answer; b) I need a good hook as a starter, a good reasons why they may be interested in the products, strong arguments to avoid a “no”, and a closing-deal argument; c) with the info gathered on b) I would design a script help you guiding the conversation, with multiple possible ways and solutions for dead-ends leading me to a yes. The script should be built in a decision-tree format with several possible paths for each “intersection”. I will write a second part to this post only with techniques to “cold call” clients using social media and eMail, don’t miss it!
Summing Up: Cold calling is a good and valid sales technique! Though, 1) Be sure cold calling is the correct technique; 2) Be sure you mix it with new technologies like internet and make use of social media as a lever. 3) prepare yourself with info and knowledge on product, clients and competition; and 4) have a strong idea on how to do it, an execution plan. Ah, and don’t miss the second part with social media and email tips to cold call.
Good Luck! Have good time selling and don’t forget to engage and converse with your clients. Selling is more challenging than ever! 😉