By Kim Benjamin, Untangled
Cold calling is often seen as the least enjoyable part of the sales process but when done successfully it can generate significant leads. Here are six tips from event strategists:
Make connections count
The first step is to lay the groundwork and show that you’re already connected somehow. “That’s reassuring and shows you are actually not cold calling,” said Marine Debatte, head of event solutions, Asia Pacific, at BI Worldwide. “Time your connection, too: Monday morning or Friday afternoon? Think about when to reach that person, about how many emails you get [at certain times], and when you’re open to it.” That alone can make or break a communication.
Offer something special immediately
Debatte said she believes that face-to-face is irreplaceable so invite your leads to something special, close to their office for a short time, an hour for example. Make it easy for them to say yes. But also take your time: the colder the call, the more time you will need for that lead to warm up. “Being pushy is the worst thing — stay hungry but respectful,” Debatte added.
Highlight how you can add value
Stephen Horsley, director of strategic accounts at INVNT, said it’s important to ask yourself: How can I realistically dial in our services, experience, and knowledge to add genuine value and relevance to this company, over and above what they are experiencing currently? “The essence of our industry is inherently underwritten by a need for creative inspiration, but it needs to be relevant to the particular business you’re profiling, and this can only be determined if you’ve got an in-depth understanding of it,” he said. But don’t offer something that the agency next door can. “You want to challenge their thinking so they read it and think ‘Hey, I didn’t think about that’ and then want to meet you,” Debatte added.
Don’t follow scripts
The likelihood is that you will get one chance to speak to the prospect, so use this time to engage properly. As Paul Nicholls, business development director at Drp, said, reading from a script will restrict you from building a natural connection. “Use open questions — focus on the person you are calling rather than you/your company — be interested before interesting,” he said.
Don’t try to close a deal on a cold call
Nicholls said that trying to close a deal may overwhelm or irritate a prospect that you’ve cold-called. The minimum objective should be to secure an appointment or next action. That in itself is seen as a “win” for cold calling.
Recognise that cold calling might not be for everyone
Find what works for your business, do more of it, and don’t waiver or become distracted, said Gareth Baldwin, group director at CI Group. “In our business model, success is more often achieved through referrals, delivering a great piece of work, then having our client refer us internally. Or if we have a great relationship then our client may refer us to another company looking for something fresh and exciting.”