From psychology to scripts, cold calling appointment setting involves more than picking up the phone. Prepare yourself with these strategies.
Cold calling may be one of the least popular sales techniques out there. That’s mainly because most cold calls don’t regularly translate to sales. But that’s missing the point. The ideal cold calling strategy isn’t about making sales, it’s about getting your foot in the door. And the conversation rate is high enough that the practice is worth undertaking on a regular basis. The trick is to learn the nuances of cold call appointment setting.
Seems like a small reward for a lot of time, doesn’t it? Except scheduled appointments have significantly higher conversation rates than cold calls. Why? Because through cold call appointment setting, you’ve gotten your prospect to expect and set time aside for your call, which means that they (hopefully) won’t be too distracted to listen.
The benefits of cold calling
Cold calling is more likely to get you a conversation than a sale right off the bat, so why bother with cold calling appointment setting in the first place? Aren’t there other ways to secure a meeting with a decision maker?
While there are, of course, other ways, the reality is that cold calling remains one of the most effective, even if more than half of your calls result in requesting a call-back or getting an outright rejection. If you make 100 cold calls, you may get traction on about twenty-five, and just a few of those will turn into sales. But twenty-five is a pretty good number of leads to pick up in just a few hours. Depending on your call speed and whether or not you use an automatic dialer, that could easily convert to upwards of 100 new leads in a day. That’s no small number.
The case for the appointment
That said, if you try to sell your product or service during each of those cold calls, not only will your outreach numbers dip significantly, but so will your conversion rate. The fact is, when someone is caught off-guard, they are unlikely to buy. Why? Because you haven’t established a relationship.
Sales is about relationships before anything else. Learn a little about your prospect. Share a little about yourself. Find out what they’d like to improve in their business, the things that are going wrong. Most decision makers are happy to have such a conversation if they feel the other person cares and can help them. That’s why cold calling appointment setting works better.
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Cold calling appointment setting doesn’t force a prospect to put their faith in you the instant you call. It’s a non-aggressive way to demonstrate that you’re about more than a sale—you’re about building bridges and helping businesses solve their problems.
Another benefit to cold calling appointment setting is that it shows your prospect you respect their time. Rather than waste ninety seconds of it trying to sell an expensive product to a busy person, you request a small chunk of their time—let’s say, ten minutes—during which you’ll have ample leeway to build rapport, learn your prospect’s problems, and then suggest ways your product or service can help.
A 5-step cold calling strategy that leads to more sales
One positive thing about cold calling appointment setting is that the strategies are somewhat formulaic. That doesn’t mean each call will convert, but it does mean that you don’t have to wrack your brain coming up with different strategies for each call. Following a few simple steps can go a long way towards getting more meetings set.
1. Respect the gatekeeper
The person who answers your call also passes along his or her first impression of you. Impress them, so you have a chance to impress the people they’re protecting.
2. Get to the point
When you do reach a decision maker, don’t dance around the reason you’re calling. Remember, you’re not calling to sell; you’re calling to make an appointment to learn more about your prospect. State your name, your company, thank them for taking a moment, and ask them if they have more time for you later in the week.
3. Be specific
Don’t make them do the work of thinking. Be prepared to say, “Are you available to speak further on Thursday at three?” If not, suggest an alternate time. They’ll either accept one of your times or offer one of their own.
4. Keep it light
One of the best things you can do on a prospecting call is to get your prospect to laugh. It immediately cuts some of the tension between you and builds a connection. Just remember to keep your humor light as well—you don’t want to upset or offend someone you want to do business with!
5. End the call with optimism
This one is simple. Whatever your prospect’s response, be positive! Thank them for their time, offer to call back, thank them for setting an appointment. Whatever the case, keep yourself looking polite, friendly, and professional. You never know when your paths might cross again.
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