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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Cold Calling Telephone Strategies
By Frank Furness

Cold calling is one of the areas that most salespeople fear, purely because of the rejection. People will do anything to avoid phoning and I’ve seen it all throughout the years. The most successful people just do it! They make it a habit, they get onto that phone and they’ll phone for two hours every day, irrespective of what the clients or the prospects would be saying to them over the phone. They just focus on results. All they want is for two or three people to say to them ‘yes, come and see me.’
So let’s analyse how do you actually become good on the telephone? What are the words you’ve got to say? How do you do about using the phone properly?
There are some dangers as well of not knowing how to cold call properly which could cost you a lot in lost sales. A lot of people just use a slapdash approach. They’re not at all prepared. They will get onto the phone, and they’ll be enthusiastic for the first call. ‘Hi, this is Joe Smith, I want to come out and see you,’ – and find themselves being rejected. The next call will be less enthusiastic and the rejection can now be heard in their voice. The third call would have no enthusiasm at all and by the fourth call they start with emails, paperwork and anything else that will take them away from their telephone session.
Some people can actually be too pushy. Some have bad habits like chewing gum or smoking while telephoning. I’ve got to tell you one of the funniest experiences I had a few years ago. I went to an offshore financial services company and they asked me to observe their phoning session. Well, it was an open office and there must have been about twenty people phoning, but I’ve never seen anything like it. There were these twenty people all making as much noise as they could, other people walking around slapping people on the back of the head, papers being thrown all over the place and the company was wondering why their people weren’t successful on the phone. We changed things around, put them into their own offices, small groups, and all of a sudden the phoning ratio went up by one hundred percent.

Sometimes we’ve got to think about our voice tone as well. Are we too loud or too soft or are we just confident. Remember this though, you’ve got somebody sitting on the other side of the line, he doesn’t know who you are, you can’t see them, they can’t see you, but you’ve still got to introduce yourself, introduce the company, you’ve got to establish rapport and sell the appointment. And that’s all you sell, you sell the appointment, nothing else. You don’t get into any product talk, nothing, you’re selling the appointment only. One of the big secrets here, always remember, proper prior planning prevents pathetically poor performance. So the better you prepare, the better you plan, the more successful you’re going to be on the phone.

Now think about it, you’ve got this list of prospects. Sometimes they’re prospects, sometimes they’re suspects. What do you actually know about them, what do you know about their needs? What are you going to say when you get onto the phone? What is the purpose of your call? Have you thought about some of the objections that are going to arise because there’s only about three or four common objections that they would come up with each and every time?

So let’s think about planning our calls, let’s think about setting goals and targets, knowing ratios, planning breaks and setting mini targets.
I recommend that people come in and phone for two hours every day, and phone when energy levels are highest. I would normally say, get in from 7.30 to 9.30. Now why 7.30? If you’re going to be phoning very busy executives, they get into the office before the admin staff and that way you avoid the gatekeeper and the secretaries. Many times, first thing in the morning, you can get through to the decision maker. You also have to set your goals and targets and break these down into weekly and daily targets. Another thing you have to do is know your ratios, so if you’re phoning just from a list of cold prospects that you’ve never seen, never heard of, a hundred other people might have used these lists, your ratios are going to be awful. One in ten, one in twenty or one in thirty, but if it’s a referral, it’s going to be two out of five so know what your ratios are. It gets back to prospecting, the better the prospect, the better your ratios on the phone.

Plan breaks as well, you know if you feel your energy lagging, take a small break, have a cup of coffee but then get going again, pick up that telephone and keep it next to your ear all the time.. Then set yourself mini targets: ‘I’m going to have a break as soon as I have my first two people saying yes.’ Set yourself objectives. Lay out your work area. Get rid of all of unwanted papers, switch off your email and clear your desk of anything that could distract you. All you want on your desk is your telephone, your diary and your list of prospects. You also have to prepare yourself emotionally. Sit down with an erect posture or stand, have a look at your script and psyche yourself up so that when you get onto that phone, you are one hundred percent enthusiastic. Know what you’re going to say and be ready for some of the most common objections that you’re going to come across.

Sometimes we have the fear of phoning and the only way we can overcome those fears is to set ourselves mini targets. Now you’ve got to have fun as well. If you’re feeling a bit down, find somebody else in the office. Sit with them and suggest a joint phoning session to see who’s going to get the most appointments. Give them the phone and listen to them. Compete with each other and have fun.

Now what you have to do is put the client into a positive state of mind. You’ve got to script your opening but never ever sound as if you’re working from a script. Create interest and sound enthusiastic. Adopt a naturally enthusiastic voice, don’t be over the top, don’t be too exuberant, speak clearly, emphasizing your name and the company and don’t ask any insincere or silly questions.

What we have on the other side of the phone is some person who’s getting a cold call and in his mind they’re saying this, is this person trying to sell me something, do I know them, do I know their company, what’s in it for me, am I too busy to speak to this person?

You’ve also got to genuinely appreciate the client’s concerns. Put yourself in their shoes and try and see things from their point of view.

You have to get commitment from every call because you know these calls are so important. You’ve worked really hard to get all these names, the last thing you would want to do is to lose any of these names.

An example of a script that you can use is this. John, I am from XYZ F and we specialise in helping ------- to plan their ---------.(fill in the gaps)

We’d be happy to drop by and give you the opportunity of seeing it and we’re going to be in your area on Friday at three or Wednesday at two. Which would be better?

Take a look at the new telephone resource ‘Telephone Sales Skills foe Winners’ at

This is an excerpt taken from ‘Sales Success Strategies’ which is available from our website.

Frank Furness CSP CFP is a professional speaker and trainer specialising in sales and sales management. He has educated, entertained and inspired audiences in 42 countries. His publications and sales CDs have been sold globally. For more information or to sign up for the free ‘Sales Tips & Ideas’ newsletter, email or telephone+ 44 (0) 870 240 6505.

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