You would think that with all the technology these days that making cold calls would be a thing of the past – and some companies in the sales industry do think that. What they don’t realize is that cold calling is still a useful tool when it’s used in conjunction with other contact methods.

While being able to get leads on the phone, even for a short conversation, can sometimes be like pulling teeth, there isn’t anything as effective as what you say, how you say it, and how it makes your lead feel. Words, tone of voice, and emotions are all important aspects of developing rapport, and no email, text, or InMail can convey those things properly.

The key to cold calling is to warm the calls up quickly. There are some easy ways to do that, just take a look at the simple strategies below. First though, let’s discuss whether you should have a calling script or not.

To Script, Or Not to Script

There is a debate among salespeople about whether using a script for sales calls is a good idea. Those who are in favor of using scripts believe that it helps keep you on track, prevents gaps in the conversation, and makes sure that you hit all the important points. Those opposed to using scripts argue that it makes the call sound unnatural and robotic and that it doesn’t allow genuineness and personality to shine.

Both sides make valid arguments. That’s why it is important to have the right information at your fingertips, but it’s also important to sound like a real person. If you choose to use scripts for your cold calling, be sure that you are comfortable enough with the information that you are able to go “off book” and use real, unscripted responses for a good portion of the call. If you choose not to use a script, make sure that you at least have some bullet-points noted and in front of you to refer to if you need them.

Strategies for Cold Calling

Now, let’s get to the strategies that help make cold calling successful before, during, and after you reach your lead.

Do the Proper Research

You have to get to know your lead before you pick up the phone. Knowing what the lead and the company do, who their competitors are, and how your product or service can solve their business’ challenges are crucial pieces of information. According to Rob Boston, Director of Business Development at Media Fusion in an article on FitSmallBusiness.com, “I’ve seen substantially more success when I took the time to scope the company or person out for a few minutes prior to calling, and mentioned something during the call that let them know I’d taken the time to look them up.”

Make it Personal

This is where your research comes into play. By finding out information about your lead online, through social media and the company website, you should have some valuable conversation starters that will make your call more personal. For example, if you have found that the company is doing well in certain areas, but has challenges in others, you can tactfully bring that up and talk about how you can help. It shows the lead that you have a genuine interest in the company and its success.

Listen Carefully

While you likely have a lot of information you want to share with your lead, during the call you need to focus on listening to what your lead has to say. Additionally, you have to actively listen, not just think about how you are going to respond.

The goals of your first call to a lead are to gather as much information as you can so you know how to customize your sales pitch for a future conversation or meeting and to build rapport so they know you care. How do you do that?

“It is far better to listen and interpret from the customer’s perspective, as would an expert advisor, rather than act as a biased one-sided self-interested sales person. The former behavior is helpful and appealing – giving – whereas the latter traditional pushy sales approach is seen immediately for what it is – taking. Remember your visualized image of yourself: how you want people to see you, and behave like it.” – Cold Calling Techniques, Businessballs.com

Analyze the Prospect’s Needs

Once you have your lead on the line, you also have to make sure that your product or service is right for them, and they are right for you. If the lead’s company isn’t worth your time and you identify that you will not be able to help them, then you want to move on to something that is more valuable. However, this should be done tactfully and you can always let them know that you would appreciate it if they would pass on your information if they know someone who might benefit from your product.

Set a Meeting

Now, you need to set an appointment to get closer to a closed deal. Do this by emphasizing that it is the next natural step in the process and that it is a benefit to you both. Let them know what the meeting will entail, what information you might need from them, and set the date.

Track Cold Call Results

After the call, be sure that you track the results in your customer relationship management (CRM) program immediately, so you don’t forget any details. Using a CRM not only helps you organize and track your sales activities and pipeline, it also allows for customizable reporting that will help you determine how effective your cold calling is, and where there is room for improvement.

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Jami Deloe