Whether you are a veteran or if you are new in sales, you will have to make cold calls to build your customer base. Many sales people dread making cold calls.
However, if you approach it the right way; cold calling can be a great way to develop your selling skills and forge great relationships with your future customers.
When you first call on an office or business, chances are that when you enter, the first person that you will have to speak with is the gate-keeper. The gate-keeper can have the title of Receptionist or Personal Assistant. The gate-keeper’s job is to act as a screener for their boss. Their boss uses them to screen or qualify people who attempt to contact them.
As a Sales Representative in New York City, I have first-hand knowledge of how to engage them in the cold calling situation. I would always sell myself first. When I made a cold call, I would first go into the office and speak with the person at the front desk. I would smile at them and introduce myself. I would say the following:
Hi my name is Dan. The Gatekeeper would then reply with something along the lines of hi Dan what can I do for you. After a bit of engagement and small talk I would tell them the company I was with and ask him or her if they were the decision maker of the product or service I was selling. (It is always important that you are in front of the people who can say yes to you.) I asked this question to validate the person’s importance. Usually the gate-keeper would reply that they were not in charge of that. I would then ask them who was in charge. My goal was to make the gate-keeper a friend. Friends’ help their friends succeed. (There were times in which this frontline person was very nasty to me and I was not able to obtain this information on the initial call. If this occurs it is imperative that you keep your cool if you ever want to have a chance to sell that business your products and services.)
Now if the decision maker was not available to speak to me, I would inquire about what was a good time for me to speak with that specific person. I would then offer them my card and product literature. (Again the cooperation of this person will vary.)
Once in a while the decision maker will make an appearance asking the gate-keeper about who you are or they may question you directly. It is imperative that you are prepared to engage the prospect and ready to answer any questions they ask you. (Objections) When a decision maker made an appearance, I would engage them in a bit of small talk; trying to make them a friend. I would introduce myself and my products. I would ask what supplier they were using and use that information to give a brief on the spot sales presentation. Once I gave this presentation, I would ask for a commitment. I would ask a closing question. Sometimes I made a sale. Many times, I had to obtain their business card and call on them again. (It is important to note that if you are selling a high ticket item you will have to close the client on the next step in the process and not the sale of the item.)
It is important to keep a record of information that you obtain during the call. This can be done on a log sheet or by updating your crm software. This information can be used on future calls. (Sometimes you will get thrown out of a business during a cold call.) This happened to me on occasion. Remember to not take it personally and to keep pressing on. They are rejecting your offer and not you! As time goes on you will have to make less cold calls because you will gain customers and hopefully earn referrals; more on this in later posts.
In my next post, I will cover how to develop a compelling sales presentation that will turn prospects into customers.
Feel free to send me your questions.
Until then, thank you for reading!