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8 Easy Rules for Cold-Calling Customers

I've been getting a lot of emails about cold-calling lately, so I thought it might be a good time to revisit the art of using a telephone to generate new leads. Here are some quick tips:

  • Rule #1. Set the right goal. A cold call can be used to sell outright, to set up a face-to-face meeting, to set up for a longer telephone conversation, or even just to nurture a relationship. Make sure that your script and your attitude match the goal that you're trying to reach.
  • Rule #2: Do your research. Find the "hot buttons" that will motivate the prospect to take the next step (whatever that is). For example, if the prospect is a CFO, your best opening is to point out difference between the financials of the prospect's firm and other firms in the same industry.
  • Rule #3: Never try to wing it. Knowing what you're going to say ahead of time helps ensure that your message will be heard. Have a script that maps out the basic conversation, potential objections, and the "close" on whatever action would fulfill the goal of the call.
  • Rule #4: Rehearse until its second nature. Rehearsal transforms the script into a more natural dialog. You must internalize the rhythm of the call, so that your statements and questions flow more naturally. Rehearsal will also reduce the anxiety that you may feel about making the call.
  • Rule #5. Assume the prospect needs you. Approach the call as if you have information and perspective that the prospect truly needs. Emphasize in your own mind that you can contribute to both the success of the prospect and the success of the prospect's business.
  • Rule #6. Differentiate yourself within 15 seconds. You have fifteen seconds (more or less) to communicate to the prospect that you're somebody worth talking to. This is not enough time to convey much information. See the links below for advice on scripting a cold call.
  • Rule #7: Don't sell prematurely. There will be times when a cold call might engender an in-depth conversation. Even so, you must remain aware of the intended outcome of the cold call (like setting up another meeting). Without being pushy, move the conversation towards that goal.
  • Rule #8: Every cold call is a victory. A cold call that eliminates a prospect is just as good (better maybe!) that a cold call that puts a prospect into your pipeline. Therefore, every cold call is a victory and should be celebrated as such.
The above is based upon a conversation with the brilliant and fascinating Wendy Weiss, aka "The Queen of Cold Calling".

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