7 Steps To Cold Call Like A Champion
Getting new customers is expensive as hell. Some industries have customers that are more expensive than others. Financial services and telecommunications are notoriously expensive at more than $175 and $315 per customers — and some industries are even more expensive.
Small businesses spend far too little in their pursuit of new customers and are left scrambling to get new customers. That leaves people who can bring in new customers in high demand.
People who can drum up new business on a whim produce what others can’t — which is money in the bank. The high demand reflects the fact that it’s one of the most valuable things you can do in business.
Much has been said about the cost of cold calling for businesses, but all the articles are written for business owners employing salespeople. In reality, the cold call is one of the most cost-effective business development methods.
Entrepreneurs and small business owners should be all over the cold calls. All you need is a phone subscription, an email account, a social media account, or access to a door to knock on. It’s basically free.
And I’m about to make that process a little easier for you.
NOTE: A Cold Call Isn’t Just By Phone
The term “cold call” simply describes all forms of cold contact. Cold contact is when the person you’re contacting doesn’t know who you are and they don’t know what you want.
It includes everything from phone, to door-to-door sales, to cold emailing, to messaging on social media, to everything in between.
I’ll use the phone as an example in this article, but you can extrapolate the principles across media.
The principles of a good cold call apply across the board. No matter how you cold call (and you should use all available methods), all calls have the same objective… and the same structure.
Cold Calling In 7 (And-A-Half) Steps
Because of my background in direct response advertising, I like to think of a cold call as an interactive advertisement.
As with all advertisements, you need to grab the attention of the prospect and make them interested in listening to you right away.
In advertising, we call this AIDA. Attention. Interest. Desire. Action.
Just like any good story hits the same basic steps, a good cold call has steps to it. Without hitting these steps, your call falls flat. Hit these steps and your cold call will be much better off.
Before You Call, Get Organized!
Before you call, you should have a few things in order. Have a spreadsheet or a notepad of all your prospects.
Take note of how they respond to the call and anything they reveal about their business. This will help you for your presentation.
Keep in mind that you’re trying to find a way to help your clients, and that requires you to understand part of their situation.
The sales jobs of the future are consultative in nature and you need to have that consultant mindset when you’re making the call.
Enough waxing poetic. Here are the 7 steps to make a cold call.
1. Introduce yourself and get their attention.
The first few seconds of the call are so vital that your introduction has to be absolutely solid.
You have to address the ever-present question of “What’s In It For Me?”.
Give them your name and tell them why you’re calling. I’ll use my fictitious SEO business, GodlikeSEO as an example through this article.
“Hi, this is Chris from GodlikeSEO. I’m calling because there’s a chance my company could help your business become number one on Google for local search results.”
Boom. Straight to the point.
Busy people value their time. Don’t shoot the breeze for five minutes before getting to the point.
2. Make a huge claim.
Huge claims get attention.
If you look back at the sentence in point one, I mentioned being number one on Google for local results. That’s a big claim.
There’s no way I can legally guarantee being number one, especially not in writing. However, there are many instances in which consistent placement in the top three is not only doable, but should be expected.
“My company could help your business become number one on Google for local search results.”
3. Qualify the prospect.
Once you’ve gotten their attention, make sure they’re the people you’re looking for. Make sure they’re the people you want.
A few years ago, I was single and tried picking up a girl at a coffee shop. We got along great, and after an hour long conversation, I had to leave and figured I’d ask her out on a date.
“I’m so sorry, I have a boyfriend.”
I forgot to qualify the prospect. I forgot to find out if she was actually on the market. She was a nice girl so I didn’t waste my time, but I had spent an hour building my hopes and dreams, only to have them crushed by four words.
The entire situation could’ve been avoided by qualifying the prospect. Had I asked a simple question early in the conversation like “Do you have a boyfriend?”, the disappointment would’ve been avoided.
“I want to make sure I’m not wasting your time, so let me ask you a few questions. When is the last time someone audited your SEO efforts? Are you doing anything to increase your ranking in search engines?”
A side benefit of qualifying the prospect is introduce scarcity to the conversation. Have you ever been drunk out of your mind at a bar, yet still ordered a drink at Last Call?
If you qualify a prospect, you limit the availability of whatever you’re calling about through the selection criteria you’ve created. Scarcity increases the desire for the product.
At the very least, qualifying questions signal that you’re not desperate. Your call moves from the “annoying salesperson” folder to a call of genuine business development.
4. Address the doubt
When you make a huge claim, people immediately become skeptical. They want to believe your claims, but huge claims are rarely backed up.
Use the huge claim to get attention, but step off the gas in the qualifying process.
“If we could achieve half of what we claim for your business, for example consistent placement among the top three local results on Google for some of the most important search terms in your industry…”
5. Find out who makes decisions.
In order to close deals, you need to talk to decision makers. By finding out who influences decisions, you find out who you need to contact to get a deal done.
“If we can deliver on half of what we promise, are you the person to make the decision on an $8,000 investment? If not, who is it?”
You should also try to find out if there are others that have a say.
“Besides yourself, who are the people who influence the marketing decisions in your company?”
Sometimes, the key decision maker likes to get approval from a third party. Think husband and wife. In B2B, you might be dealing with someone who’s working with a consultant or a mentor.
6A. Go for the appointment.
Although it shouldn’t necessarily stop you from trying, you usually can’t close a deal on the first call and you’ll need to go for an appointment.
Try to get an appointment as soon as possible. Once you’ve agreed to a date, give your prospect some options for times. For example, you’ve agreed to meet on Tuesday. Which works best, 9 a.m. or 1 p.m.?
6B. Lock down the appointment.
Prospects sometimes flake appointments. You want to make sure they show up.
One of the best ways to avoid this problem is to lock down the appointment, which you do by making them honor their word.
Sounds like a difficult task, but it’s actually quite simple. You ask the following question:
“Is there any reason you wouldn’t be able to make it on that day?”
If they say yes, try to find another time. If they say no, you’ve successfully decreased your chances of being flaked.
7. Confirm the appointment
Once you’ve agreed, send them a confirmation. You can send them a text, an email, and a calendar invite.
A Fill-In-The-Blanks Cold Calling Template
Whether you’re an entrepreneur, an aspiring sales professional, or a project manager who wants to expand into a business development role, cold calling is one of the most valuable business skills you can master.
You need to nail the first few seconds of the call by making a big claim that hooks their attention, qualify them, address their skepticism, find out who influences decisions, and set the appointment.
Fill in the blanks.
Hi, this is [name] with [company].
I’m calling because [big claim].
To make sure I’m not wasting your time, let me ask you a few questions.
[do you fulfill the criteria we’re looking for?]
[we have two criteria. do you fulfill both?]
If we can [deliver on our claim], are you the person to [make decision]?
Are there others who have a say in this decision?
Would you make time to meet [as soon as possible]?
I’m available at [time] and [time]. Which works best for you?
Is there any reason you wouldn’t be able to make it?
Alright, I’ll send you a confirmation via [email, text, calendar invite].
Use this template as the basis for your own cold call. You can use this structure for emails, direct messaging, and all other forms of cold calls.
P.S. SOMETIMES, THEY FORGET.
One of the biggest reasons prospects flake meetings is because they simply forget.
They forget the meeting. They might forget the time. They might forget the location. Sometimes, they even forget what the meeting is about.
To avoid that, give them a reminder call on the day of the meeting to make sure the meeting is still on.
It sounds something like this:
Hi, it’s [name] from [company]. We’re scheduled for a [time o’clock] meeting at [place] about [huge claim], and I’m just calling to make sure we’re still on?
Just make sure you don’t sound all desperate if they say no.