How to Cold Call Without Feeling Awkward
Small business owners have to wear several hats, one of which is salesperson. However, some, never having been in sales before, are reluctant to call a potential lead for lack of what to say. Often a sales script sounds stilted and may be awkward to deliver when faced with calling someone they do not know. If this sounds like you, below are 8 tips to help you develop a conversational style sales script that will take the awkwardness away when calling a potential customer:
- Prepare: Preparation is key to sounding smooth and sincere when contacting a potential customer. Prep by reviewing the list of all the leads you will be calling by researching their company and understanding how your product/ service can help their business. This shows that you have actively taken an interest in their company and care about their needs and requirements.
- Delete the “script”: Jot down a basic, flexible prompt, which will be used to identify the relevant decision maker. Briefly introduce yourself and company, mention the USP (unique selling proposition) of your product/service and just “follow the trail “of where the call takes you! Your call will come over refreshingly sharp, focused and responsive to the customer’s needs. Compared to the stilted and unnatural sound of someone reading from a script…which could end with the call being rapidly terminated by your targeted prospect!
- Make and Take Notes: Be sure to have bullet points of vital items that you do not want to forget to bring up during this “natural” conversation, and as each point is covered, check them off. Also, by taking notes during your call you will not get absorbed in the conversation, go off track and realize after hanging up that you forgot to mention some key point.
- Use “So, if…”: When closing your conversation, use the “so, if” concept which helps you to refer to any negative points or reservations prospective customers may have raised during the call. For example, if a concern about price is raised, by saying ” ‘So, if’ we can negotiate costs to suit your budget, would you be willing to proceed?” This helps you address any objections and can lead to a second meeting or closing the deal.
- Ask for the close: If you are trying to set up a meeting, say “would you be available on Monday or Wednesday next week for us to meet,” or if closing the sale, say “what would need to happen for you to place an order today?” If you do not ask your customer it is hard to get to the next step.
- Redirect: If further objections are raised, redirect to “so, if” concept and try to close again.
- If no is the answer: Ask when you should follow up with them. For example, say “Can I call you in a month/next quarter/after the new year to see if your needs have changed?” Then make sure you follow up when they told you to!
- Always: Thank them for their time verbally, and sometimes, even follow up with a hand written note. If they are a customer you would like to have, a hand written note thanking them for taking your call and adding your business card may be just what you need to get their future attention.
I hope these 8 tips help you overcome your hesitation to call potential customers!
(Source: Laura Katz, Area Director, UGA SBDC in Athens)