Written by Matt Varley

Cold calling often brings a shiver to the spine. Many fee-earners and even professional sales teams shudder at the prospect of an afternoon stretching in front of them with just a phone and a list of ice-cold prospects. Here are two great ways to take the chill out of things… 

1. Call people who are not ice cold

​Start by calling people who know, like and trust you. If you can’t think of any, that may be a problem which is beyond this article. Perhaps people you have worked alongside in the past, who have heard you speak at seminars or are aware of the work you have done for others.

Also strong and often overlooked, are the clients who used to buy from you but are now lapsed. Fair enough, if the reason they are now lapsed was so awful that you are convinced you will not be able to work together again – but often the reasons were simple things which have now passed – the most common being lack of budget. Your time is much better spent warming this relationship, than trying to chip the ice of a completely cold prospect.

Short of that, do you have anything as part of your marketing that indicates people have an interest in you – even if they have not bought from your before? Good examples are people who have requested a free guide book you produce, or asked to be sent case studies, tips booklets or white papers. 

2. Put a bit of flame under the conversation 

Once you have exhausted your warm connections, select among the cold prospects very carefully. Some unfortunate soul on the receiving end of a cold-calling blitz will be much less responsive than someone who is told that they are being contacted because – as you state early in the conversation – they are in the exact geography/industry/stage of growth or even have the culture, of other companies that you have been able to help recently. Use marketing databases such as Fame or Mint to slice and dice the data – and then don’t be shy about telling people you have done this.

You need a strong and clear hook. The prospect is thinking – Why is this person calling me? What do they understand about my hopes and frustrations, what headaches are they offering to take away – or what cash can they deliver?

It also helps if when you call, they have recently seen your name or your company’s name. The simplest way is to combine your phoning with email campaigns or mail shots so that the call is not coming totally out of the blue. If you want to be a bit clever, you can prioritise those who have clicked on your recent emails or visited your website. There are all sorts of tools to indicate who has been doing this. We are happy to recommend some names if you’d like to know more.

Next time you are meant to do some cold calling, light the fire and make some hot calls instead.

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