At least part of your day should be spent looking for new business. If you aren’t on the phones for a daily block of time, you’ll find your cash flow drying up very quickly. Selling your services is absolutely vital.
At the same time, I know it’s hard. If you are on your own, or you have a very small team, picking up that phone to call people so that you can sell to them can be very challenging.
So what I’ve done for this post is put together a little list of ways in which you can prepare before any cold call you are going to make. Build these into your preparation before you pick up that phone and you will feel 100% better.
Make sure you know their name
If you carry out a LinkedIn search for the prospect you are focusing on, you should find a goldmine of information upon which you can build a successful cold call. But if there is one easy way to crash and burn within the first few seconds of a call, it’s through not knowing what the prospect likes to be called.
A cold call is exactly that, it’s ‘cold’. You do not know the person you are speaking to. But if you went to their office for a meeting, or you were introduced to them at a party, isn’t it fair to say that you know their first name?
Usually, and this is one of the best things about LinkedIn and Facebook, you will find their ‘preferred name’ somewhere. A Johnathan might like to be called John, for example.
We’re not talking about over familiarity here. Most people will have a name they like to be called by, so find it.
And whatever you do, don’t get their name wrong.
Find their position
If you are just starting out as a freelancer, you can easily find yourself talking to some very nice people when you are cold calling a company. Unfortunately, you can also find yourself talking to some very nice people who don’t have the authority or the budget to buy what you are selling.
When you are researching your leads, spend some time working out the size of the company you are approaching. If it has 5-10 employees, you will probably need to go as senior as you can to find the right person to pitch to.
A good rule of thumb here for small to medium-sized businesses is to aim for the most senior position you can when cold calling. They won’t be too hard to find because the company is small. You won’t get a call with Richard Branson, for example, because he is at the top of a pile of thousands of people. But if you’re focusing on small companies (and freelancers do, most of the time), you should be able to get to the senior team and their names pretty quickly.
Don’t waste your time cold calling a head of sales, for example. They are not in the right position to buy. The same goes for the HR lead.
Find the Marketing Director as a starting point. Then keep digging until you start to find names of other senior figures. Then, when you pick up a phone, you’ll know that your conversation is not going to be a waste of time.
That will do a lot for your confidence during cold calling and lead generation.
There are now more ‘CEO’s’ than ever before in human history. When searching for a CEO on a LinkedIn search, beware the solo entrepreneur who has made their title ‘CEO’. Always check the company size.
It may sound grand, and worth pitching, but it could be a guy in his bedroom on a computer. Yes, they may be ‘crushing it’ as a CEO, but I’ve always found that the solo entrepreneur who thinks she is a CEO is really spending more time on her image, rather than her business. Pitch, by all means, but be ready for a potential client who does not have the budget you need.
Have 3 responses ready for blockers
Many early sales cold calls implode because the people doing the calling aren’t prepared for ‘blocking’. This is where you encounter a prospect who simply fobs you off within the first 30 seconds.
We’re not going to dig too deep into this right now, but you’re being blocked when someone says they ‘don’t have time’ for your call, for example. Or they might ask for an ‘information pack’, before you’ve actually told them what you’re offering.
The worst quick block to experience is obviously the flat ‘no’.
You need to get on that call only after you have prepared 3 clear responses to blocks. When you nave practiced these 3 responses, and drilled them so they are part of your general response every time, you should see much more success.
It is vital that you have some prepared responses to blocks. Seriously, if you don’t have 3 ready responses, blocks will shut you down in a moment. And that’s a wasted prospect.
“For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.”Aristotle
Every day, if you can (and you know, maybe you should make it so you can), take some time to practice. Your cold calling work will benefit hugely if you are comfortable with the process. And practice makes perfect.
Call friends and ask them to be horrible and confrontational on the phone when you try and sell them something. Give them a list of objections that your prospect list will throw at you. It’s worth doing, and all practice is useful.
Stand in front of a mirror and practice breathing so that your voice is clear and strong, so that you feel more confident.
Write down every single objection you can imagine your prospects giving you, and write down and then verbally practice every response. This isn’t to take away from your skills, but this rote learning of objections and responses just makes you a more confident seller.
However you handle cold calling, good luck. It takes perseverance and guts to get more clients this way. But the more you do it, the easier it gets.