Cold calling. The very thought of it sends shivers down the spine of many a franchisee or entrepreneur. Still, if you want to drive sales in your franchise, picking up the phone and making that call is a skill you’ll need to learn. Make the task that much easier with Franchise Finder’s simple six-step guide to making cold calls…
Step One: Plan Ahead
How to set yourself up for cold calling failure? Calling just anyone out of the blue! Don’t. Do. It. Before you dial, plot out your cold calling campaign by thinking about:
- Who – draw up a list of names in an Excel spreadsheet where you can track your progress
- When – think about the best time of day to place that call
- Why – clarify your goals or what you hope to get out of it
• How – hone your cold calling method and techniques.
Step Two: Qualify Your Leads
Always try to call qualified leads, i.e. decision-makers who are in the market for your products or services and have the authority to buy what it is you’re offering, on their direct line. Unfortunately, many decision-makers have personal assistants or other underlings – called gate-keepers – fielding their calls. Here’s how to navigate around them:
- Speak confidently and with authority – if you know the name of the decision-maker, simply ask to be put through
- Treat the gate-keeper with respect – ask their name and for their help in getting connected to the right person, if you don’t know the decision-maker’s name
- Gate-keepers often wield enormous behind-the-scenes power – pitching your call at how your product or service could help them can, in turn, help you!
- If the gate-keeper won’t budge, move on – if you can sense the conversation is going nowhere, politely thank them for their time and hit the next name on your list.
It may seem counter-intuitive to small business owners who tend to seek out other small business owners for business leads, but focusing on the big-wigs is more productive – it takes just as much time and effort to call a big company than it does a small one and they have more money to spend. Calling referrals, or people to whom you’ve been referred to by other clients or colleagues, is another handy tip.
Step Three: Write a Cold Call Script
You have ten seconds tops to make an impression in a cold call – don’t waste valuable time by stuttering and stammering your way through it! Drafting a brief cold call script will keep you focused on your goal and allow you to make best use of your time on the line:
- Be thoroughly familiar with your script, but don’t read it! We’re all familiar with those call centre reps who recite sales scripts parrot-fashion – not very effective, is it?
- Introduce yourself upfront and state why you’re calling – give your reason in the form of a benefit – ‘I’m Joe Blogs and I’d like to chat about how our software package can streamline your accounting processes and improve your cash flow’
- Ask the prospect for permission to engage in a brief conversation – ‘Is now a good time to for us to talk?’
- Be conversational – use the script to keep the conversation on track but do remain dynamic and natural enough to respond to the ebbs and flows as the conversation unfolds
- Pause to listen to your prospect when s/he speaks – talking over their objections will leave them feeling harried and bullied.
Step Four: Ask for an Appointment
Many would-be salesmen make the mistake of selling their wares during the cold call. The only thing you should be selling right now is The Appointment. Securing a face-to-face meeting with your prospect is the ultimate goal so keep your eyes on the prize! Once you’re engaging comfortably with your prospect, go ahead and suggest a date and time for a meeting where you can discuss it further: ‘How about we meet Tuesday the 5th at two in the afternoon – does that suit you?’
Step Five: Send a Follow-Up Email
After concluding a cold call – whether or not it was successful – drop your prospect a line thanking them for their time and reiterating who you are and what you do:
- For unsuccessful calls, something along these lines: ‘While our software package doesn’t seem to suit your needs right now, please do contact me if you feel we could be of use to you in the future or if you know of anyone else in your circles to whom you feel it could be of benefit.’
- For successful calls: ‘I confirm our appointment on Tuesday at two pm and am looking forward to meeting you and chatting further about how we can be of benefit to you.
Step Six: Make Cold Calls Part of Your Routine
If you’re the kind of entrepreneur who only makes cold calls when sales are slow, you need to wise up and make more calls, more often. Sales experts suggest that cold calling should be a regular feature of any sales and marketing campaign – making such calls should hold a weekly, if not daily, slot in our schedule. Block off time each week or each day for cold calling, diarise it and do it!