Neil Bromage has run his own small business and is a freelance business writer working on a range of newspapers including The Times, Sunday Times, Telegraph and Financial Mail on Sunday. This book is based on a wide range of columns and Q&As written and answered by Neil for Business Link over a number of years. He is based near Preston, Lancs.
Picking up the telephone and making a cold call is one of the easiest ways of getting business, yet lots of us are terrified of doing it. It’s also too easy to put off making cold calls until you’ve done something else – had a cup of coffee or opened the mail. But the process can be made a whole lot easier if you simply prepare in advance.
Cold calling can also be an exhausting process and you will be much more effective if you run a co-ordinated campaign which you organise and record carefully. Making a number of calls in batches is often a good way to begin. So is setting objectives, such as exactly when you will ring, how many calls you will make and your targets. Remember that cold calling is a numbers game and so whilst targets are important they need also to be realistic.
Avoid being vague or over-general with your sales pitch. And whilst it is tempting to try to get business by offering an ‘I can do anything’ approach, success often comes when focus is narrowed down to your strongest areas. This can also have a secondary effect in helping switchboards identify exactly who you should speak to – which can often be vital.
Scan local newspapers and Yellow Pages for target companies and make lists of who you should ring and work out a good script or pitch. Remember that you probably have less than 30 seconds to hook people, so you need to think of really good opening lines, something they will remember. Detailed notes of all calls and responses are imperative if you want to be organised and effective.
If you really can’t face the task of picking up the phone you can always try one of the growing number of telemarketing agencies who, for a generally modest sum. will make your appointments for you.
If you need more support, go through the points in the next piece – ‘sales calls’.