The research and mental preparation to do before you cold call

  1. Cold calling anxiety

    Ashley_Price UKBF Legend Full Member - Verified Business

    7,062 1,303
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    Cold calling; do those two words send shivers down your spine and bring you out in a cold sweat? Does the very thought of calling strangers and the possible rejection fill you with dread?

    And yet, you know you could get a lot more customers if you could just get over this fear... but how?!

    Welcome to my world. Just like you, cold calling is the one task I hate doing in my business and yet I know I have to do it.

    What follows is how I get myself into the right mindset before picking up the phone, so I can cold call successfully, while knowing that I am not enjoying it and would rather be doing something else.

    Before you even pick up the phone you need to do some preparation – both for your own mind and in terms of researching the businesses you are going to call. Skip these steps and you might as well not do cold calling, because you’re much more likely to fail.

    The tips below should help you. I am not going to say it flicks the ‘I love cold calling’ switch to on, but you should, at least, be able to make the calls.

    When a negative is a positive or expect a lot of "not interested"

    Read many sales books or get tips or guidance from others who do cold calling and they will tell you how it can really work for your business.

    Yes, this is true, but... you should also expect a lot of negative responses. How many? On average, in every 100 calls you should expect 95% negative responses. Negative responses are not just ‘not interested,’ but also ‘not available,’ ‘not in,’ calls going to voicemail, phone engaged, etc.

    That sounds scary at first, but once you realise you’re not going to have to try and sell on every call, it can be quite a release.

    Before I was told to expect so many negative responses, I was thinking with every call I would be trying to sell to someone. Now, when I look at my call list and know that 95% of those calls are probably going to lead to nothing. Perversely, rather than feeling disappointed that I am not going to get that many sales, it makes me feel better about calling because I expect a lot of rejection.

    However, don’t go into each call with a negative mindset, you should still hope to sell when you call. Remember: ‘Hope to sell, prepare for rejection.’

    Do research or “there’s no point trying to sell hospital beds to hotels

    If you hate cold calling, you don’t want to be increasing the dread and your stress levels by phoning firms that will have no need for what you are selling. If you do it’s guaranteed to have you hiding under your desk next time you think of phoning a company.

    So, before you even think of picking up the phone, you need to research the firms you are going to call. You want to make sure they are going to be in the right industry and are large enough to need what you’re selling.

    To give an example: I sell office supplies and it would seem every business is a potential customer, yet this isn’t true. There are many industries out there that have little need. Web design agencies are a perfect example. The vast majority of what they do is on the computer with little need for printing, paper, ring binders and so on.

    So, make sure you do your research. Check out the firm’s website and get some background on them. Check their news page (if they have one) to see if anything has been put up recently that could be relevant to what you sell. I look out for announcements on new members of staff or if the firm is moving premises. Try and find any information that will help you sell to the firm. Anything you can use that will show your business in a more positive light will help and make you feel more confident.

    Also, make sure you double check that they don’t have a notice anywhere near their contact details saying ‘no sales calls’. I know some will tell you to phone them anyway, but again what’s the point of increasing your stress? Find another firm.

    One tip: don’t assume the website is up to date. I used to view the staff profiles on company websites to find out who was the most likely to be the purchaser for the office supplies and stationery. That way, when I called I could ask for them by name. However, I stopped after doing 15 calls and in three cases that person no longer worked there (and in one case they had left several months before). It isn’t going to look good if you call using out of date information – even if you did get it from their website.

    If you don’t know the name of the person you need to speak to, I would suggest you phone the firm first to get the relevant name then call a few days later to speak to that person. So, I ask for the name of the person who makes the decision as to which stationery supplier the company uses. Then, I phone again two or three days later and ask to speak to that person. To me, this is far more sensible than trying to make the sale all in one call. If you ask to ‘speak to the person who does XYZ’ you’re flagging up you’re a sales call and likely to be rejected without being put through.

    In summary, the best way to prepare for calls is to go into it expecting a lot of rejections (or not available, not in, voicemail, engaged tone etc.) and do your research. For me, these two things alone have made a significant difference and allowed me to pick up the phone and call more people. Even though I still don’t enjoy it, I feel a bit more confident when doing so.

    Ashley Price has been a member of UK Business Forums since 2008. He is the owner of Pavilion Office Products, supplying businesses of all sizes with office supplies, retail, warehouse, cleaning, health and safety, and janitorial products.

  2. TODonnell

    TODonnell UKBF Ace Full Member

    1,406 213
    This is the gold. I've done a bit of cold-calling myself. What the salesman may not realise is that some companies get lots of untargeted calls. The receptionist gets pretty bored with these. You increase your odds of being shut down, fast, if you come across as a robot going through a list of numbers.
    Posted: Apr 19, 2017 By: TODonnell Member since: Sep 23, 2011
    Ashley_Price likes this.
  3. Rich Learning

    Rich Learning UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    3 2
    Useful post, thanks for sharing!
    Posted: Jun 14, 2017 By: Rich Learning Member since: Jun 6, 2017
    Ashley_Price likes this.
  4. karenvjames

    karenvjames UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    12 2
    I would totally agree with Ashley, I use cold calling as my main strategy for bringing in new customers and for every 5 people I quote I convert to a sale, but like Ashley says, you may have to make a lot of calls before quoting. Mindset and Preparation are the keys.

    One other thing to consider is that you must make sure you are only calling people or businesses on opted-in lists. Any business in the UK and Europe has to be compliant with the marketing legislation before doing any telephone calls, fax calls , email and sending mailshots. It is illegal to contact businesses or individuals on the marketing preference lists and neglecting to abide by this legislation could result in a £5000 fine or 2 years in prison for repeated offenders if you get caught. You can buy lists from marketing data companies.

    I always have a guideline of what I want to say written down, I also define the objective of my call. Is it to send them an email, get them to visit the website, book, and appointment or make a sale over the phone?

    Never take a no personally, they are not rejecting you, they may just not have time to speak right then. A "no" is a "not for now". You may have to contact them 7 times before getting a yes

    If you speak to a receptionist ask for their help and make them your friend. If they say they can't help ask their advice on what they think you should do and always thank them for their help. You will stand out amongst others.

    Remember, even if you get a no you are making your potential clients aware of you as they may not have heard of you before so it's not a wasted call.

    One last thing, remember smile before you dial. cheesy I know, but people can pick up how you are feeling over the phone. If you are smiling when you pick up the phone they will sense it in your voice, if you are fearful or negative, they will pick that up too.
    Posted: Jun 14, 2017 By: karenvjames Member since: Dec 15, 2016
  5. Dan (CE)

    Dan (CE) UKBF Contributor Free Member

    30 10
    Some good advice here. A great alternative though is to keep leads coming in automatically by improving your website in various ways as I explain below.

    Content Marketing: Most people are searching the internet looking to solve a problem. Write helpful articles in a blog on your website with a comments section at the bottom and reply to anyone who leaves a comment to increase interaction on your website and keep people coming back. The more helpful you are, the more likely people are to start paying you. Google also likes this as well to place your website further up the list.

    Marketing Automation: This is all about setting up pages to collect email addresses and a system like Campaign Monitor to automatically send them an email every few days. These emails will have different helpful content to warm these people up as leads who eventually receive the last email in the series which sells a product or service. Add email signup forms on your website, add a sentence at the end of blog posts about signing up and create pages just for downloadable content which are used to collect addresses as well.

    SEO: This is something for the long game. Optimising your website for Google is never going to pay off well at all in the first few months but keep doing it and you will be above your competitors when someone searches for services that you offer.

    PPC: Pay-Per-Click ads. Immediate lead generators where you create ads on Google AdWords, Facebook and YouTube (more than one on each platform!) to link through to your site. This is expensive but every single company should be doing this every month before anything else.

    There are so many things you can do other than cold call, so don’t annoy them, help them. The techniques above (and many more) will get people to pick up the phone and call you instead.
    Posted: Jun 21, 2017 By: Dan (CE) Member since: May 4, 2016