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VOL. 127 | NO. 31 | Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Lori Turner

Lori Turner-Wilson

Biggest Cold Calling Mistakes and How To Avoid Them

By Lori Turner-Wilson

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The ability to sell is a learned skill. There’s a formula – a vital part of which is planning. Is it the most glamorous part of sales? No. Is it worth the investment? Every time.

It’s always been interesting to me – from a sales psychology perspective – how more time is often spent fretting about a potential “no” response a cold call may generate than actually planning for and making the phone call. Fear can be immobilizing – preventing you from conducting the proper preparation. Instead, there’s often a desire to simply get it over with.

To no surprise, an unplanned approach typically generates a less-than-ideal response. Instead, try a “work smarter, not harder” strategy. Plan your cold calls to improve your result, allowing you to make fewer of them.

It begins with determining exactly what you want from the exchange – such as securing an appointment, generating a referral or requesting an introduction. Start small by asking for a bit of your prospect’s time for your phone conversation versus just jumping head first into your pitch. Once you’ve made a compelling case for how your prospect can benefit from meeting with you, you can request that face-to-face meeting.

Script that preliminary conversation. Imagine you’re a speechwriter for the president, where every word matters – because it does. You can lose a prospect’s interest in a mere matter of seconds, which is why every word must be optimized.

While it may sound counterintuitive, the purpose of a script is ultimately to allow you to deliver your message in a seemingly unscripted, engaging manner. Write it down, refine it, and practice it until you’re able to deliver it conversationally.

Being comfortable with your delivery will eliminate fear and empower you to focus on listening to your prospect versus what you’re going to say next.

While voicemail should generally be avoided where possible, if you must leave one, script a concise 8- to 14-second message in advance. Resist the temptation to say too much. Your objective is simply to pique the prospect’s interest enough to take your call the next time.

Lastly, it’s crucial that you have a contingency plan – what you’ll ask for if your prospect doesn’t agree to your preliminary request. Don’t miss this golden opportunity. If calling for a meeting you’re not able to secure at this time, you might be prepared to request an introduction to another contact within the company.

You might also ask if you can stay in touch with the prospect to update him on new product developments or invite him to an upcoming workshop hosted by your company. A good contingency plan allows you to maintain contact and is an easy “yes” for the prospect.

The cold-calling formula is simple. Outline your objective. Script the discussion. Practice it until it’s conversational and engaging. And have a solid contingency plan in place.

Lori Turner-Wilson is an award-winning columnist and managing partner of RedRover Sales & Marketing, www.redrovercompany.com. You can follow RedRover on Twitter (@redrovercompany and @loriturner) and Facebook (facebook.com/redrovercompany).

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