Cold Calls: Learning to Master the ‘Necessary Evil’ of Selling

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Closeup of dialing a number on a landline telephone

Nobody likes to cold call. For sales professionals, it is probably the least favorite part of their job. But cold calling is a necessary evil, and a vital part of cultivating prospects and turning them into closed deals.

The constant rejection from cold calls can lead to apprehension and reluctance. But the bottom line is, if you can’t handle rejection, you shouldn’t be in sales. Here are some tips to help prepare for cold calling.

Who Ya Gonna Call?

A key part of preparation is honing your call list. You shouldn’t just be picking up a phone book (if you can find one) and dialing names at random. The internet exists. Use it. Cultivate a targeted list of people who are decision makers and in fields relevant to what you’re selling. Use LinkedIn to search through target companies to find people with the right job title that you need to reach.

Write a Script

It may seem schlocky, but have a script prepared for your cold calls. A cold call is an attempt to present your product to a potential customer. If you were meeting with a potential customer in person, would you wing it? Would you forego a PowerPoint presentation and just improvise your way through it? Of course not. So why do you think that you should improvise your way through a phone pitch?

Drafting a script for your calls allows you to find the most optimal way to state your case for consideration. As part of the drafting process, you’ll need to think of common objections to your pitch, and craft ready-made responses to these objections. Your script should be like a “choose-your-own-adventure story”—if they say this, then you say this; if they say that instead, then you say this instead. By crafting a fully-formed presentation along with fully prepared responses to common objections, you present yourself as someone who is so well-versed on the topic that you don’t have to hesitate before answering questions.

And don’t feel like the “script” has to be overly formal or fully written out word-for-word. If your style is more improvisational, feel free to write yourself a looser outline, instead of a lengthy text. Make sure your script sounds natural and works for your unique style of talking with customers. But it’s also important to give your cold call some structure, even if it’s just a few bullet points written on a note card.

Plan ahead and figure out how you want to structure every call, and how you will adapt the conversation to meet the customer’s needs–and rehearse your cold call script before you dial the phone. Practice makes perfect! Sometimes the best way to sound “natural” and “unrehearsed” is to spend lots of time practicing and working through the key points of your sales script.

Optimize Your Voice Mail

If you’re reaching the call volume that you should (at least 60 in a day), you’ll probably find yourself leaving dozens of voice mail messages. Just like you shouldn’t improvise your pitch, don’t improvise the messages you leave either. Tools exist that allow you to prerecord your message so that you can get it to sound exactly the way you want it. As soon as you reach someone’s voice mail, simply press a button, leave your optimized message, and get on to the next call.

Be Fearless

No one likes rejection. We spend most of our lives trying to avoid it. But in sales, and especially with cold calling, it’s unavoidable. Getting over the fear of rejection empowers you to be bolder and more proactive in your outreach. If you’ve properly prepared your script, identified the right people to be calling, and know your responses to their objections inside and out, you might…still get rejected.

Sorry, it’s not all “happily ever after” in sales. But preparation and confidence are the keys to bringing your numbers up and making you better at your least favorite task.

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