It seems like a lot of people pretend that the phone doesn’t work anymore. The truth is that using a multi-pronged approach of email, some social selling, and calling gets your name out there the most. However, some still like to skip making the dials. Part of this stems from a lack of education on proven techniques to make an effective cold call. Trying the following four cold calling techniques may open an untapped source of revenue for your small business.
The Soft Sell
This approach simply involves calling to introduce yourself and your business. You still need to make sure that your calls are to people who are in your addressable market, though. Unless your addressable market is everyone. That would be something like if you were starting a painting business that anyone in a neighborhood might need at some point. The talk track can go:
“Hey is this _______?” or
“Hey it’s Bob Buckley, is this _______?” or
“Hey it’s Bob Buckley with ________, is this?”
If they say “yes” or “it is,” you can ask how they’re doing (I usually say “how’s it goin?”). Most people will probably say “okay” or “good,” the typical generic small talk answers. Once that’s out of the way, say “I’m not sure if it’s on your plate right now, but I just wanted to call and let you know I’m running a (business type) business now.” If you have been doing it for a while, don’t hesitate to add the amount of years.
Then, just say something like “If you have any questions about (business type) feel free to ask if you see me out and about,” or “give me a call,” etc.
After that, say “Otherwise, that’s all I’ve got and I can give you back your morning/afternoon/whatever time of day it is.” The great thing about this method is that when someone does have a project, they will probably let you know. When they don’t, it leaves the door open for the future and they will be familiar with you as a resource.
The Yes/No Approach
This method is if you get some pushback right away. If you are doing anything B2B, you will probably need to do this anyway to try uncovering a compelling event. After you introduce yourself and your business quickly, they might say “okay, what do you want”? To that you can reply, “I’m wondering if I could tell you why I’m calling, because I know you do (insert relevant thing about that).
If they say yes, then ask the question: “I’m wondering if painting any parts of your house is a priority this year,” or a similar one that deals with your product. You could also go straight to the question after asking how they are doing, but getting that small “yes” at the beginning can help. This approach is definitely more direct and might get some abrasive replies, but most people are reasonably nice. Yes, some might hang up, but that’s a good thing because it saves you time.
Doing Research Before A Call
No cold call should ever be ice cold. Even if you’re calling people locally about some general services, be ready to mention something locally to build rapport. If you’re running a small B2B startup, do some quick research in the prospects’ press releases or check the news in general to see if they’ve been mentioned at all talking about specific plans or priorities. In case they do have any information out there, you will probably figure out who you need to talk to from that. Depending on the size of the market you’re selling in, be careful about how much time you spend researching and avoid “paralysis by analysis.”
The Referral Approach
The various large financial advisory companies out there instruct their reps to do this – and it works. The referral approach involves asking your current customers or even people who you’re currently providing estimates for to give you names of others that could benefit from your services. Ideally, they will provide phone numbers, too. Then, when you call the potential new customers, you can mention that their friend passed along their info. That makes a cold call a lot less chilly.
Tying It All Together
At the end of the day, a multi-pronged approach of marketing your business will net you the most results. If you can get comfortable with the phone, it will give you a significant edge over your competition who just stick with email and social. By soft-selling, taking the yes/no route, doing pre-call research, or leveraging referrals, you can make some really productive cold calls. Your book of business will thank you!