How to win leads with cold calls

Cold-calling isn't a lot of fun. But if you do it well, it can be a very cost-effective way to generate leads. Learn how to cold call with confidence with this tip.

Ring ring…

F: ‘Hello, Franziska speaking…’

C: ‘Oh hi, do you drink tap water?’

F: ‘Yes’

C: ‘Do you know that tap water has xyz in it?’

F: ‘Yes, I’ve heard of it, we use a water filter..’

C: ‘Oh, you are using a water filter…’

beep beep beep

This is only one example of many cold-calls done ‘not so well’ to say the least. We receive so many phone-calls nowadays and unfortunately a lot of callers are not very polite once they realize you don’t need what they’ve got. This week I had 2 callers hang up after finding out that I’m with another provider, no ‘good- byes’ no ‘have a great day’ and no ‘thanks for your time’.

Cold calling is the process of approaching prospective customers or clients, typically via telephone, who were not expecting such an interaction. The word "cold" is used because the person receiving the call is not expecting a call or has not specifically asked to be contacted by a sales person.

I remember when I was in high school I got a job in a call-centre for a security company, booking people in for appointments to find out how they can make their homes safer with alarm systems (no, I wasn’t in South Africa, I was in Switzerland, one of the safest countries in the world. It would have been much easier to sell chocolate).

That was over 12 years ago when the internet and online marketing was in its infancy.

Nowadays, a lot of businesses still cold-call and it must work for some businesses, if done right. I personally am anti-cold calling and think it’s a waste of time. In the 21st century, there are definitely much better sales and marketing strategies giving small businesses a higher return and no doubt a better first impression!

The problem with ‘standard’ cold-calling is that most people have a funny reaction to cold callers and their ‘leave me alone’ or ‘don’t have time’ alarm goes off instantly.

Why not try warm-calling, only calling people you have already met or that have opted in for some information about your products or services.

How to warm up your cold-calls

The first 3 steps are the most important ones to making your calls hot!

  1. Target the right people: Find out what your market wants and needs. If you sell baby products, you probably wouldn’t call single guys, right?
  2. Don’t cold-call, warm call instead! Make sure you only call people you or your business has already been in touch with. Why not send them a little gift first. Be creative!
  3. Have an ice-breaker to start off the conversion: ‘Just checking in to see if the little plant (insert gift idea here) I sent you last week is still alive….’
  4. Focus on building relationships not selling!
  5. Smile: Even if they can’t see you, having a smile on your face will help, guaranteed!
  6. Have a bit of fun, don’t take yourself too seriously. Little tip here: When I was in the call-centre many years ago, I would pretend to be an actress working in a call-centre, just to make it more fun for myself and not to take things personally, it worked wonders.
  7. Stop talking about you and your business, let them talk about themselves instead.
  8. Keep it casual, don’t read from a script (please don’t do what a lot of businesses are doing with their outsourced calling centres in India! You know what I mean…)
  9. ALWAYS be nice to gate-keepers (and anyone else picking up the phone), they deserve it and you never know who knows who!
  10. Call at reasonable times depending on your market: Why would you call at 7:00 PM when most people are enjoying dinner with their loved ones and the last thing they want to do is talk to a stranger?
  11. Avoid the biggest mistake cold-callers make: Don’t just hang up if the person is not interested, be nice and wish them a great day. You just never know, they might be interested in your products or services at a later stage or know somebody who needs what you’ve got.

Enjoy building relationships and stay tuned for more strategies for business growth shared here very soon.

Franziska Iseli-Hall is co-founder and director at Basic Bananas.

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