There are a lot of good reasons to pick up the phone and reach out to new prospective customers. When it comes to finding new business opportunities, the phone offers a high level of efficiency, is relatively inexpensive, and is a great way to gather valuable information that can help us find business.
However, cold calling isn’t really selling–it’s more closely aligned with marketing. In fact, let’s stop using the term “Cold Call” and replace it with the term “First Contact Call” (FCC). Use these FCC’s not to “make sales” but rather to qualify or disqualify further actions. After all, “making a sale” for most of us, takes more than one phone call.
By the way, I recommend using the phone as only one method for finding new business opportunities. If it is the only prospecting activity you use, it tends to create a lot of pressure. Pressure on you, your prospect, and every phone call. Regardless of how often you use the phone, let’s start by looking at the activity in a different way.
Starting to feel better yet?
This article is intended to provide you a step by step process for making first contact calls.
- First contact calls (FCC) are generally part of a strategic business development plan. We may want to call into a varied and large list of opportunities, or we may have a narrowly defined target list. We may know exactly who we are calling, or just the persons title or position. These variances will determine how we structure our calls. I hate getting calls from people that ask, “May I speak to the owner of the business?” If you are doing this stop, please! Add a step to your process that allows you to get this information before you make the FCC. When people call and ask for Brad, they are much more likely to get through.
- Make first contact calls to uncover and discover relevant information. For example: because I am in the “Sales Force Development” business, when I make first contact calls, my only goal is to learn if the company I am calling has a dedicated sales force, how they are organized, and what their leadership structure looks like. Your qualifying information would be different, and you should know what it is before you start. I often get the information I need from a receptionist, administrative assistant, or even a sales person. If the company I call qualifies, I make another “first contact call” to the specific person I have decided is the appropriate level to start the discovery process.
- When making calls, start bold! By that I mean–do not sound like every other sales person and telemarketer making 500 calls per day. Be authentic and different. If you can’t figure out how to do this you are doomed before you start. Learning this skill will soon become your main sales advantage over your competition. If you are struggling to make calls, think “outrageous.” That’s right outrageous, off the cuff, out of the ordinary.
- STOP telling people who you are, what company and products you produce, and how they can benefit from meeting with you or buying from you. This type of phone call is too traditional. We want the people we call to share information, tell us enough about themselves and their company. We want to make sure we should even have a phone conversation. Figure out the most relevant questions you can ask to get your prospect to do most of the talking.
- Be prepared to close the call. If the person you are speaking with is not a good opportunity for you, find a way to move on. If they are, have a plan to transition from the initial stage of your call into the next stage of your sales process. It may be a face to face meeting, a webinar, or a scheduled time where the next call should occur.
Making FCC’s may never be easy or fun for you. However, if you work on the style and structure of your call, you will be better received. As your calling improves, you will begin to feel better about the activity will see the phone as an asset in building your business and not something to fear.
Remember making phone calls is what we do in order to put opportunities into the pipeline. STOP trying to sell on your first contact calls. It lowers the pressure on you and your prospect and your calls are better received.