SALES

6 Ways to Make Smarter Cold Calls

Make the best use of the time and effort you spend on the phone.
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Cold calling takes time and effort, so you want to be certain that both are spent wisely.  Here are six cold-calling suggestions based on a conversation with Tom Black, author of The Boxcar Millionaire.

1. Focus on the purpose. The purpose of a cold call is to make an appointment for a longer conversation, either in person or on the telephone.  Don't try to sell or close the deal, just close on the next step--the prospect's commitment to spend a few minutes with you.

2. Use a brief sales script. You've got about ten seconds--that's about two sentences--to prove that you're worth the prospect's time and attention.  More than that and the prospect will hang up, or say anything to get you off the line.  See: A Cold Calling Script that Works.

3. Only call decision-makers. Because you have a limited amount of time to sell each day, don't waste it calling upon people who don't have the authority to purchase. If you find that you can only get access to a gatekeeper, you're better off moving to the next prospect.

4. Only call potentially big buyers. It often takes more time to make a small sale to a small customer than it does to make a big sale to a big customer. If your research indicates a prospect doesn't have much money to spend, don't waste your time calling.

5. Call more referral accounts.  Prospects are more likely to make an appointment if you've been recommended by somebody that the prospect already knows and trusts.  Referrals are also much easier to close.  See: "How to Get a Customer Referral.

6. Agree to a time that works for the prospect. When you make an appointment, agree to whatever time is convenient for the prospect.  Once the appointment is in the prospect's calendar, you can later request that the appointment be moved to be more convenient for you.

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Last updated: Oct 25, 2013

GEOFFREY JAMES | Columnist

Geoffrey James is an author, speaker, and award-winning blogger. Originally a system architect, brand manager, and industry analyst inside two Fortune 100 companies, he's interviewed over a thousand successful executives, managers, entrepreneurs, and gurus to discover how business really works. His most recent book is Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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