It was only a few months ago that I mentioned one of my least favourite tasks was outbound sales/cold calling. In typical fashion, over the last few weeks I’ve been asked to do some outbound sales calls for a few new clients.
Never one to turn someone away, I decided to take on the work, and as always, throw myself in to it.
I moaned a bit under my breath, but no one else had to hear that. Well, apart from the dogs, but they’re used to my little rants by now.
Generally speaking if I do anything like this I like to be completely prepared. In an ideal world there would be time to develop a bit of a script, maybe do some tests of it, tweak it and make sure it’s as good as it can be.
However, with these recent jobs, they’ve all had a certain amount of urgency to them. So my back’s been a bit against the wall. No time to really prep, just jump straight in.
Which always makes me feel a bit uncomfortable.
But that’s life.
With that in mind I thought I’d share some of the tips I’ve picked up over the last couple of weeks in the hopes that if you find yourself in a similar situation, you might feel a little more able to pick up that phone and make a start.
# 1 – Be professional, and happy
I’ve received many a cold call myself, and I’m always struck by how miserable everyone sounds when you answer the phone to them. Don’t get me wrong, I entirely get it. I might be the 50th person they’ve called that morning, and everyone else has told them to bog off, they’re despondent, miserable and wondering where they went wrong in life.
But that’s not my fault.
Which is why it is essential that you put a smile on as soon as you pick up that phone and act like every call is the first one you’ve made all day. Be professional at all times, and where possible use the person who’s answering the call’s name.
# 2 – Introduce yourself
Take the time to introduce yourself and your company. True, they might not take it in there and then, and will probably ask you to repeat it, but it’s a good habit to get in to. Equally, it’s a nice way for you to ground yourself in to the conversation.
“Hi, I’m Lu and I’m calling from Time Saving Heroes. We’re a local company who specialises in helping microbusinesses increase their productivity and income.”
I’ve found that this approach works better than clearly identifying what you do, provide or sell. This arouses a bit more interest than simply saying “I’m a Virtual Assistant and I wanted to discuss how I could help you.”
# 3 – State your purpose
In an ideal world you’ll have a specific reason for wanting to call these businesses, so explain it. Having read a few blogs about this sort of thing it’s clear that framing this purpose in the form of a question is likely to illicit better results.
“If I can show you how to get more done, without employing staff or significantly increasing your outgoings, would you be interested in hearing more?”
# 4 – Schedule a meeting
If they’re interested in finding out more then set up a meeting, if it’s appropriate to do so. If they’re out of the area, then a conference call might be the better way to approach this.
Offer two times to give a choice, and do not put the ball back in their court by saying “when shall we meet?”.
# 5 – Follow up
Make sure you get all the necessary contact information from your prospect. Ask if they have an email address (so you can send a meeting invite/confirmation), and then send the information as promised.
No matter what the outcome of the call, make sure you remain bright, breezy and professional and you thank them for their time and help.