One of the oldest customer service and sales techniques is definitely not for everyone. For a customer-minded employee, cold calling may seem abrasive, rude, and ineffective. Even if it’s not your cup of tea, you can succeed when cold calling is required if you apply a few tips that make the experience more pleasant for both yourself and the consumer.
Whether you’re participating in business-to-business or business-to-customer cold calling, never go into the conversation blind. Know who you’re calling, why you’re calling them, and why they might want to listen to what you have to say. It’s likely that your call is going to be an interruption to the person on the other end of the line; people are more likely to put up with such an interruption if they can quickly see some value in it. You won’t have much time, so make sure you have a concise and friendly message ready.
Personal and Friendly
Cold calling often turns into a scripted routine, and it’s easy to forget that you’re dealing with people. Do everything you can to make your call personal and friendly. Robert Hartline with CallProof.com reminds professionals in service and sales roles to do the right research ahead of any call. If you’re calling a business, search online for the appropriate decision maker or contact. If you’re calling a customer, make sure you have a name on your call list or use reverse lookup to vet the phone number. When possible, do research to make sure you’re pronouncing someone’s name right. The quickest way to damage a potential customer’s perception of your customer service during a cold call is to depersonalize the conversation by mangling the name or not using a name at all.
There’s a difference between productive cold calling and a shotgun approach that involves the phone book and a game of “eenyÂ meenyÂ miny moe.” The best calling strategies involve referrals, but you have to drop names correctly. Never fabricate a referral or use someone’s name without permission. Always use the name and association of your referral. For example, say, “Hi, Lisa. John at XYZ Station suggested I give you a call.” A referral from a trusted friend or associate will increase the odds that you’ll set the appointment, make the sale, or create a relationship.
If your cold call conversation goes well, don’t be shy about asking for referrals. Mike Wolfe, from the television show American Pickers, makes it a point to ask people he visits if someone else in the area might be selling antiques and junk, even if the original visit didn’t result in any business. He’s fond of saying that referrals are almost as valuable as a good pick, because you never know when the next deal might be a treasure.
Cold calling isn’t for everyone, and it takes a special set of skills to pull off this sales tactic without jeopardizing service to the consumer. If you can apply some of the tips above and come across as experienced, caring, and human, you might be able to turn a difficult task into future revenue.
About the Author
Nancy Anderson is the communities and article Editor for Beyond.com.Â Nancy has 10 years’ experience in the online job search business with Beyond.Â Nancy’s team produces dozens of articles every month for top internet sites.Â Follow Nancy and the Beyond team on https://twitter.com/BeyondJobs.