As part of my service, I’m often asked to offer cold call training for companies who would like to improve their lead generation in-house. Here are five key steps I always recommend to anyone who wants to achieve higher quality leads through cold calling:
1. Create a plan and test it carefully
One of the biggest errors people make when trying to gain business leads is failing to develop a plan of action -- or creating a plan and then not following it through.
You need far more than a long list of numbers and a sales pitch before you pick up the telephone. Perhaps you’ll get lucky and find a prospect who loves your offering with very little work on your part. But most of the time, lack of preparation backfires. Effective cold lead generation requires putting in the groundwork. You need to look carefully at the data you will use, the team you have in place, the brief that you are working from, and how you plan to approach your calls.
So, create a plan with measurable targets and don't abandon it on day one.
2. Never embellish what a contact has said
Name dropping is one way to warm up a cold lead but use it with caution. At Straightahead, we might mention an initial contact if they gave us the prospect’s direct dial, have made a recommendation, or they are a key team colleague who is passionate about the solution we are offering.
Never embellish or make-up what the initial contact said. Don’t tell your prospect that “Peter recommended we have a conversation” if that isn’t really true. You will probably get caught in this lie, and it often dooms any potential relationship before it has begun.
3. Treat each conversation with equal importance
We all know that to get a sale signed-off you need to talk to the real decision-maker.
Throughout my career, every job I have had has been related to generating prospects and leads. One thing that I learnt early on is that speaking kindly and treating every member of staff with the same respect is critical to getting to the real decision-maker. An office administrator who has been made to feel insignificant will not rush to put your call through.
Treat information-gathering calls with junior staff with the same regard as those made to the CEO.
4. Always keep a level head
Despite your best-laid plans and respectful approach, there will be times your call frustrates your prospect. It is vital that you keep your cool. I can’t emphasise this enough; not only because you’ll catch them at a better time (and in a better mood) at a later date, but also because news travels quickly – especially within industries.
Never forget that customer service should be at the heart of every lead generation call. Your reputation depends on just how well you deal with problems and uncover the right solutions.
5. Measure, track and capture your results
Cold calling is only effective if you are constantly collecting data about what you have done and what has and hasn’t worked.
At Straightahead, we keep records of each call we make to determine the effectiveness of campaigns over time. We build daily reports that include the number of ‘dials’ we’ve made and the results and outcomes of those calls. We also record call clips, to give clients valuable feedback. This allows them to work with us to constantly improve our approach to their campaign. For instance, they might say to us, “That was perfect, could you now please ask these additional questions?” In this way, keeping daily call records lets you run a responsive lead generation campaign that continually improves, to ensure you are getting the greatest outcomes.
My advice is don’t just smile, dial and cross names off your hitlist. The more you test, measure, and refine your data and strategy over several months, the better the result will be.
Author: Vicki Culverhouse, owner of Straightahead UK