Cold Calling Best Practices
10 tips to turn phone numbers into new business.
Cold calling doesn’t have to be hard, or cold. Here are 10 simple cold-calling tips to heat up cold calls into warm leads and a few hot deals.
1) Know the laws, and treat your prospects as you would wish to be treated. First and foremost, there are laws and regulations governing telemarketing. As with most consumer protections, they exist because of previous businesses behaving badly. Make certain you are familiar with the Federal Do Not Call provisions and be aware how failing to comply could result in a penalty.
Just as everyone loathes email spam, the disdain for telemarketing arises because of businesses failing to do a good job of targeting and having a legitimate offer.
Simply put, it’s not spam if it’s of interest to the person you are calling.
Here is additional FTC background to absorb:
2) Get targeted with your lists. Cold calling a long, unfocused list will keep you busy, but won’t necessarily help you grow your business. The most successful calls are relevant to the person you are calling.
For example, a business that provides a service to owners of rental properties can easily target owners of rental properties. It’s a waste of your time, and the people you’re calling, to have to qualify if they are an owner of a rental property.
Bad: “Hi John, I’m calling to see if you own any rental properties?”
Good: “Hi John, I’m calling about 1234 Briarwood, which I understand is a rental property you’ve owned since 2009.”
Focus on specific owner and property targeting criteria as well as the owner demographics to help ensure that your offer will resonate with them. Narrow down your lists to fit a specific script with an offer that is relevant.
3) Know who is on your lists. Aside from all the information PropertyRadar provides regarding the owner and the property when you discover vital information like age, interests, gender, income, and net income, you have a better understanding of how to approach your prospects.
You’re that much more in tune with their situation, and their potential wants and needs and how your business can be of benefit to them. If social profiles are available (they frequently accompany the PropertyRadar individual profiles), take a moment to visit their LinkedIn, Facebook, or other social profiles to gain additional insight into who they are.
Perhaps things you may have in common with that prospect will make your conversation easier. You may even have a mutual connection. Or you may discover from visiting their social profile that they are on vacation and today is not the best day to call.
PropertyRadar makes it easy to hone your prospects into lists that are very targeted. Research the prospects on your list and validate that they match the offer or opportunity you intend to communicate. The more you know about the prospects you’re targeting, the better your scripts will be, and the more welcome they will be to your call and offer.
Although more information helps you create targeted lists of prospects, be sensitive to the information you have. There are things people may not want you to know, and with public records, there’s always a possibility the information is incorrect. Respect the privacy of your potential prospect. You’re not talking to tell them who they are; you’re talking to them and offering something you think they’ll want.
4) Know your offer and objective. How does your offer benefit the person you are calling? You want your offer to have value and be of interest to the people you are calling. That is critical to success and safeguards you and your brand from coming across as indifferent to the etiquette of good business intent.
The more your offer is specific and a legitimate opportunity to the person you are calling, the more receptive they will be.
But what if you do not have an offer until you qualify certain information regarding the targets?
That’s a common situation. Just know your specific objective for calling and have your questions ready to go. Sometimes, the objective may be as simple as letting them know why you are calling, and apologize for the call interruption but ask for their email address so you don’t have to bother them with future phone calls.
5) Write scripts, practice, improve. Rinse, repeat. Grab attention immediately by knowing what you’re going to say. Your prospect only has a limited amount of time to talk to you on the phone.
Don’t call to make a sale. Call to engage a prospect in a conversation about their needs and how your offer can help. Avoid starting with polar questions that are answered with a yes or a no and are designed to make the person you are calling comfortable, or generate follow-up questions.
Practice scripts until you can easily recite from memory. Record yourself, and listen to those recordings. Would you want to talk to you?
Finally, it never hurts to practice on and get feedback from friends and associates. Many cold calling pros will tell you that practicing on a friend can be more challenging than the real calls and is the best way to hone your skills without fear of making a mistake.
6) Master the art of the voicemail. Most folks won’t answer a caller ID that they don’t recognize. That’s OK! Especially if you’re prepared with a voicemail message that will get them to return your call, or send you an email or text message reply.
With a voice mail, your objective is not to sell the deal. It’s to build a bridge. As tempting as it may be to try and blurt everything out, just focus on getting the callback or establishing contact.
Voicemail can be just as effective as email, sometimes even more so. Think about how many emails you received today versus voicemails.
Leave a cheerful voicemail introducing yourself, include a number where you can be reached, and then give them your email, just in case they don’t want to talk on the phone. Or suggest a text message if you’re calling from your mobile.
Let them know you’ll be calling back, and if this is not of interest, to please let you know. Your time is valuable so you’re happy to not bother them again if they let you know.
7) Get in the zone, and get calling. Create a comfortable space for yourself. Use photos, inspirational quotes, whatever makes you feel positive and enthusiastic. Be sure it is quiet.
People can hear your body language which is why it’s important that you smile and use hand gestures to help your personality come through the phone. Standing up while talking is a technique many beginners start with. If you aim to do a lot of calls, use a headset that frees your hands to take notes and to use your natural body language to articulate your personality.
Once you’re in the zone, stay in the zone. Turn your notifications off, smile and dial.
8) Follow up. On the first call, often it’s a success just to connect and get an email for further follow-up. You don’t need to close the deal on the first call. To effectively follow up, get a commitment to reconnect.
Establish a follow-up call time and date and then e-mail a reminder and an agenda with something valuable and unique to that prospect. Let them know that if there’s no interest or the offer is not right to please let you know.
You don’t want to waste your time trying to reach someone who is ignoring you. If they feel comfortable that you will stop calling and emailing if they ask you to, they will be far more receptive. At the end of the day, time is your scarcest resource. If they don’t bite move on.
9) Create a workflow. To effectively move through each prospect, know who and when to call, know who you left a voicemail, and who to follow up with over the course of several business days. If you don’t establish contact with a prospect, mark the lead as “nurture” and move on.
PropertyRadar has a Status field on every property. You can customize these status labels to your own workflow. By having a specific workflow with contacts marked appropriately, you can have the visibility you need to accurately assess how you are doing with your calls.
10) Keep track of your calls and set goals to improve. Some cold-calling experts advocate for volume. And that works if you’re a penny stock financial trader. But for small businesses like real-estate investors or an architect, classic volume goals like “50 calls in 150 minutes” is probably not right. Think quality, not quantity. Better targeting and more research will likely result in more deals.
Keeping track of every call you make is an analytical approach that will help you make predictions about the future. Perhaps after the experience, you now know that for every 100 calls you make, you qualify 20 leads. Of those 20 leads, two to three eventually turn into business. Poorly targeted lists with little research means having to make 1000s of calls instead of only 100. You’re better off spending time targeting and researching than haphazardly calling people off-target. It’s a waste of your time, and theirs.
Like any skill, your cold calling abilities will develop over time and with practice.
For beginners, perhaps you shouldn’t call on your hottest prospects first. Give yourself some time to gain a little experience. Learn to navigate the myriad mini-challenges people can throw at you on a call. Again, they are skills developed over time.
But as every veteran cold-calling pro will tell you, if you pay attention to these techniques, even after your first 100 calls, you’ll be a pro as well!