How to Cold Call Effectively

Three Methods:Acing the Smile and DialMastering the Sniper ApproachCalling and Emailing

Cold calling is easier than you might think. You'll find out right away that when you pick up the phone, there's no guarantee you'll make the sale. However, if you don't pick up the phone, you're guaranteed not to! Many people don't realize there is system behind successful cold calling. Keep reading to learn about three tried and true methods.

Method 1
Acing the Smile and Dial

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    Develop a script. Work though in your mind what you would say to someone when you get them on the phone.
    • Never begin your conversation with asking, “How are you?” It comes across as disingenuous, so save your pleasantries for people with whom you have an established relationship.
    • If you are calling to book an appointment, briefly introduce your company and service, confirm that they are the correct person and ask if it is a good time to talk. If it is, you can now give them the pitch (otherwise ask if there would be a more convenient time to call back and make a note to follow up).
    • Make sure you include a couple of strong benefit statements as early into the conversation as possible.
    • Incorporate questions into your pitch. It is important that you involve the prospect in the conversation and questions are a great way to allow for interaction. Using some of the insight gained from your pre-qualification, you can structure questions that can create an opportunity to close. For example; “John, I understand that you have an XYZ controls solution in place at the moment, but does your company have a mandate to try to further reduce your utility spend?” Structured this way, you create an opportunity to close for the appointment.
    • Refer if possible to a project you just completed at another company that profiles similarly to theirs in terms of size or industry sector, for example: "We just completed a project with Mount Sinai Hospital and through the implementation of our controls solution, we were able to reduce their utility bills by 30%, with a projected ROI of 2.5 years." Note, though, that you would rather have the prospect be talking/answering questions, than have you talking more about specifics.
    • The more specific you are, the more compelling your statement will be. You can then ask if he would be interested in achieving learning more, if he says yes, then you have your opening to ask for the appointment.
    • Finally, read your script aloud. Does it have a natural, conversational flow? Is it too long? Does it allow for interaction? Try practicing it on colleagues to get their feedback.
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    Do some practice calls to people on your list. It is normal that you find your pitch isn't quite right, or that your list needs refining. Try it on some live prospects to make sure it works.
    • Redo your list or your pitch should it be needed. Normally, you don't get it right first time.
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    Enter your list into an organizational system. You could use a simple spreadsheet or a CRM system like Either way, you need to put your logs of calls somewhere so you know when to call prospects back.
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    Anticipate and respond to objections from this list. When you did your practice calls, you should have gotten some objections like, "I don't have any money" or "I heard your company is horrible."
    • You should practice your responses to objections.
    • Remember, a prospect that objects is still engaging and talking with you. That is a good thing and gives you an opportunity to engage them in good conversation.
    • Many sales people hear, "I don't have a budget to buy this." The skilled way to handle this depends, but could include seeing if the prospect would be interested if there was a no money down or pay later plan.
    • Objections allow you to ask questions to help identify if an objection is real or just a smokescreen, as well as how you can provide alternative solutions to address the problem. Write down your list of potential objections along with the responses and keep it next to your script when cold calling.
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    Call the rest of the people on your list. Book a lot of sales appointments!
    • Note when the person you are calling is not there, and call them back the next day.
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    Keep refining and call some more. Remember that a good script is a work in progress and your first attempt may not get you the results you need. Ask yourself these questions:
    • In retrospect, were my pre-qualification questions the right ones and or, do I need to add or replace a qualifier?
    • Were my benefit statements strong enough and early enough in the conversation?
    • Did I show enough value?
    • Do I need to rework my responses to objections?
    • Did I effectively close for an appointment when an opportunity arose?

Method 2
Mastering the Sniper Approach

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    Know that the Sniper Approach is good for "Big Game Hunting."[1] Using the Sniper is the best way to cold call when you are trying to make larger dollar sales to a smaller group of companies.
    • The Sniper spends a lot of time on each prospect, to get the perfect sales pitch for each one.
    • You will typically find a Sniper at companies selling expensive products that need a custom sales pitch for each customer.
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    Gather and qualify your list. Do this just as if you were a Smile and Dial sales person.
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    Learn more about your prospect. Once that you identify that a company is a good fit, find more information about the prospect before contacting them.
    • Have a look at their website and news to get a better feel for the company. Jot down a few key facts that may be useful in your conversation.
    • Learn all you can about what your buyer is looking for. In addition to web research, you can usually talk to someone fairly low down the corporate ladder to get this information. You can often find them on Linkedin. They will typically be a lot easier to get through to than the decision maker.
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    Connect with the decision maker. Finally, you are ready to contact your decision maker!
    • Read over your notes and scripts before calling.
    • Figure out a good time to call. Many sales reps swear by calling their prospects early in the morning or at the end of the day. Senior executives are extremely busy so catching them before their meetings start for the day or after they finish is your best bet. In addition, you are more likely to get through to them rather than hitting voice mail or getting their assistant. This also leaves the rest of the day for managing your existing clients and active prospects.
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    Only leave a voice mail as a last resort. Leaving a message is usually not recommended unless you really can't catch them live.
    • If you leave a voice mail and they don’t respond, how many more can you leave without it seeming like harassment?
    • If someone does call you back, you may be caught unprepared (what did he say his last name was? What company does he work for? What was the message I left?), this can lead to you feeling flustered and lacking control over the conversation.
    • If you have tried getting hold of someone for several weeks without success, leave a voice message as a last resort. Put a post it note on your computer screen with the names of people you have left messages for with their company names so that you at least have some advantage and make sure that your script is close at hand.
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    Consider going through the administrative assistant. Truly, it would nice if there were no administrative assistants and you could get through to the decision maker every time. But, many admins are will be very helpful if you ask them nicely.
    • Ask the receptionist if your ‘contact’ has an assistant; if so, ask for his or her name and enter it in your CRM system.
    • If reception puts you through to your prospect and you get his or her voice mail, hit “0” to speak to the assistant.
    • Sound very busy and professional. For example, say “Hi Joan, its Fred Smith. I just got John Doe’s voice mail. Is he in the office today?” If she responds with “Yes, but he’s in a meeting,” ask what time he is likely to be free.
    • If the assistant asks what is this about, respond if possible with a single word i.e., ‘controls.’ Before he or she gets a chance to ask more, ask if your contact be available later that morning or afternoon. Nine times out of ten the assistant will give you this information, and you will save time by not calling people who are out of the office. If the assistant asks to take a message, you may want to say, “Actually, I’m in and out of meetings all day myself. To avoid telephone tag, I’ll just try John a little later."
    • Make sure you keep a good record of the results from your calls. You want to review them before contacting the prospect at a later date, or before any face to face meeting.
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    Follow up. Develop a follow-up system that is foolproof so that you don’t have to think about it. If you make a promise to send someone information or say you will call in 2 weeks, then you need some way of tracking that to ensure you don’t forget.
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    Stay in touch. Staying in touch with your prospects is crucial to staying ‘top of mind.’ After so much hard work, you don’t want to risk losing a piece of business because you prospect didn’t think about you when they made their decision to buy. Here are a few ideas:
    • Newsletters are an effective means of staying in touch as long as the information is relevant to the prospect and their industry
    • Special offers and promotions that are time sensitive
    • Events and trade show invitations
    • Holiday cards

Method 3
Calling and Emailing

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    Know that you can use both calls and emails to contact prospects. Increasingly, people don't answer phones; they look at emails. That makes it better to use emails as well. Use the call + email strategy in these situations:
    • When your prospects are younger. Younger people use phones less that older people.
    • When you can get a list of prospects that includes their emails. You may simply be able to guess emails correctly by trying something like first There are also many websites that give you the correct email formats for many companies.
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    Create your scripts for phone and email. Use the same strategy you'd use for Smile and Dial. More detailed advice on how to write a marketing email can be found here.
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    Ensure your emails are not violating anti-spam laws. Emails from one individual to another are not as legally risky as sending thousands at once, but you still need to be careful.
    • In the USA commercial emails need an unsubscribe option and contact information in them. [2]
    • If someone asks not to be emailed any more, make sure you remove them from your list. You are most likely to be reported if you repeatedly email someone who has asked you to stop.
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    Coordinate your email and your phone contact with the customers. Often, a good sales rep will email someone with general information and tell the prospect that they will be calling. That way, you can break the ice by asking the prospect if they received your email.

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Categories: Marketing | Sales