Cold calling gets an undeserved bad reputation. The Internet is full of experts that will tell you there’s little value in picking up the phone and following up on a lead that’s not expecting your call. I’d like to politely disagree with that line of thinking. In fact, if you’re targeting a relevant B2B or B2C demographic and have a product or service that meets the needs of a particular audience, you’re doing yourself and your organization a disservice by not picking up the phone and making a cold call.
To date, there’s no virtual connection that’s anywhere near as effective as that old standby, human interaction. One person speaking directly with another is significantly more meaningful and memorable than 100 unsolicited marketing emails. We’ve written before on ways to uptick your cold-call success rate, but here we’ll focus on what NOT to do when cold calling.
- Don’t Be Sam the Butcher:
Probably the No. 1 error you can make on a cold call is mispronouncing a prospect’s name. If you say, “Good afternoon, Kristen McMannis,” and really her name is Christian MacMannus, you’ll come to a dead end right away. No one likes it when their name is bloopered. If you’re not sure how to pronounce someone’s name, ask one of your peers and/or go on Youtube and search for a “how to pronounce” video. If you butcher someone’s name in a voicemail message, don’t bother practicing what you’ll say when he or she returns your call, because you’re not going to be on Mr. Schmeckeda’s call-back list. Fun fact: Sports giant Nike actually lost Golden State Warrior Stephen Curry to a rival sports brand after they addressed him as “Steph-on.” The point is, details matter.
- Bad Timing:
Be mindful of exactly when you place cold calls. Is your prospect in a different time zone? Are they slammed on Wednesdays? Do your research and zero in on the best time to pick up the horn and start your script. A friend of mine is VP of facilities at a nationwide restaurant chain. Apparently, Monday is the day of the week when his managers are drowning in work order requests—because the weekends were so busy with diners. So getting a cold call from a happy-go-lucky sales rep on a Monday would not go over well at all.
- Keep it G-rated:
It’s a bit of a no-brainer, but I wouldn’t be saying it if it didn’t need to be said: Yes, I’ve gotten cold calls from reps who have used profanity in their pitch. They may have made assumptions about me, based on my age or my Vegas address, or just whatever—but they decided that what I required was something a lot more, uh, laid back. They couldn’t have been more wrong about that. Never—ever—take the four-letter word approach. You don’t have to be overly formal, but keeping things family friendly is always the right choice.
- It’s Just Business:
Objections and rejections are part and parcel of sales, so don’t take “no” personally. Cold calling is like ringing someone’s doorbell unannounced—the person on the other side of that door may politely ask you to go away. We’ve blogged a lot in the past about objections and how to counter them. Be prepared to hear things like “We already use [solution X],” or “Check back in a few months.” Instead of feeling bad, have your responses to those objections at the ready.
- Don’t Wing It:
There’s a real art to cold calling, and you’ve got about 10 precious seconds in which to make a successful connection. After that initial 10 seconds you’ll know if you’ve hooked them in or not—a dial tone might tell you. Cold calling is like acting—it all proceeds from a script, one you need to stick to but not be obvious about using. Scripts definitely work. Be natural with yours, and make it memorable and compelling. Basically, leave your leads wanting more. Your cold call should be designed to warm them up.