Thursday, May 10, 2012

Strategy Banishes Fear of Cold Calling

If you want to build your practice, there will be times when you need to pick up the phone and make a cold call.  Banishing your fear starts with getting into the right mindset and doing your homework prior to making that call. 

Garbage in. Garbage out.

Now, I realize that given the choice, many would opt for root canal over cold calling because they don’t want to appear “unprofessional” or “salesy”.  Well, I used to be just like that.  However, I learned that as long as I was selling valued services, I would always have opportunity to connect and create mutually beneficial relationships with like-minded professionals. 

Lawyers need accountants, architects need interior designers and even healthcare specialists need the support of general practitioners to grow their practices and vice versa.  

Here’s how I’ve used strategy to banish the fear of cold calling:

1. I cannot say this enough, if you believe in what you are offering, so will your prospect. You can’t sell something you don’t believe in because that comes through. The more enthusiasm you express, the more likely your prospects are going to feel it too.

2. If you don’t know why you are calling prospective clients, don’t expect them to get it either. Strategize to warm up that “cold call”.  Find out as much as you possibly can about the company or individual in advance. This homework will ultimately be the basis of a meaningful connection.

3. Cold calling is a bit like speed dating, so focus on fit and your desired outcome. Think of it as a quick two-way conversation to see if you can leverage your values, knowledge and skills to create win-win opportunities, build mutually beneficial referral networks  and even circumvent the odd call for proposals.

4. Avoid reading a script because it will sound scripted.  Instead, be prepared to use a well-crafted and rehearsed opening statement and keep talking points or sound bites nearby so you can use them during a conversation.  Keep in mind that your prospect is looking for the “What’s in it for me” in the first 30 seconds.  The initial phone call has little, or anything, to do with you.

5. Don’t give the prospect the chance to terminate the conversation by asking inane questions such as “how are you doing today?”, or even worse, “is this a good time to talk?”.  In today’s hyper-stimulated market, it’s a dead-end to ask if you can add one more thing to someone’s busy day - especially when the request comes unannounced.

Cold calling still remains one of the most effective B2B sales tactics, if done properly.  Contrary to popular belief, it’s not a numbers game!  Focus on developing a targeted list that fits your desired growth market and adds clients who contribute value to your professional practice.  

To paraphrase from the best-selling book ‘The Hunger Games’, “may the odds be ever in your favour”.  

Can you remember the best cold call you ever made? Why do you think it worked?

- Terry Shatner
Business Development Manager, Bekhor Management

1 comment:

Amber King said...

Wonderful article. Cold calling is a challenging task and one needs to be confident to be able to reach and interact with prospect. Agree with your point that you should believe what you are selling. You should understand it so that you would know how it can be beneficial to the prospect.