The dreaded cold call.
Even the most seasoned sales professional can tremble with fear before nervously approaching a cold call.
They’re a necessary evil, and I’ve had to make plenty of them for networking purposes and other reasons. Years ago, I was hired by a nonprofit trade organization to sell memberships, ads, and sponsorships to a variety of leads through — you guessed it — cold calling.
I hated it, but was confident I was creating value for both my client and the prospect.
The trick is to create a really great reason for why the person on the other end should listen. And give them that reason quickly, or it’s a wasted opportunity.
Through trial and error, I perfected a method to effectively turn cold calls into warm leads.
It’s quite simple: Just research your prospect beforehand.
Identify your target, then spend an hour learning whatever you can about them. Talk to their assistants, secretaries, and mutual acquaintances to understand what their goals and passions are.
Do all of this before you call and ask to speak to your prospect.
Finally, once you have enough to sustain a decent (albeit brief) introductory call, reach out to that prospect and start a conversation with what you know about them.
Easy enough, right?
To make it even easier, here’s a roadmap with all the steps to adequately research a cold call prospect:
- Identify your target and set a timer for 60 minutes.
- Use all the tools. Google, Wikipedia, social media platforms and the Internet in general are useful. Call their assistants, employees or anyone who is a mutual contact to get a snapshot of the prospect. You want to learn who they are and uncover information about them, their company and their goals.
- Write down three or four points of information you’ve gathered in order of what will capture their interest first. It shouldn’t be what you’re trying to sell – it must be about them and what you learned from your research.
- Capture their attention. You have about eight seconds to get them interested before they hang up.
Let’s talk about how to capture their attention.
Develop a script to follow when cold calling. It’s important that you acknowledge that you may be interrupting something, and, most importantly, that this call will be brief. Then, follow through and be brief – you’ll be more likely to seal the deal.
“Hi Cynthia, I know we do not have a scheduled call, my name is Derek, and I read about your recent [two quick points of information], and I’d like to ask a few follow-up questions. Is this a bad time? I’ll be brief.”
“Great, the reason for my call is, through my research, I noticed we are both supporters of [insert college, political, philanthropic, or relevant commonality, etc].”
Finally, “I know I asked you for a few minutes and our time today is up. May I come back to you in a few days or a week to present an idea or introduction I’m confident will add value to you [your organization, family, charity, etc)]?”
And if you need to close them now:
“Since I only have another minute, are you ok with me making a brief ask?”
Then make the ask and pause.
Notice how most of the script is listening and showing how you can provide value?
You may be skeptical, but trust me: this really works.
Once I developed this process and script at the job I described earlier, revenue and membership enrollment skyrocketed within a few months. I was given an office, a proper retainer, success fees, and a new title.
I’ve used this formula since then to contact decision makers, CEOs, political juggernauts, and more.
Really, the secret to networking and closing deals is all about taking the time beforehand to do your research. Investing that time will go a long way toward turning cold calls into something much bigger.