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Should You Give Up On Cold Calling As A Small Business Marketing Tool

by Charlie Cook ©2007 In Mind Communications, LLC, all rights reserved.

Ever had second thoughts about using cold calling to find new clients?

Before you pick up the phone to make a single cold-call, there are several things you should know. First, few people are naturally successful at cold calling.ColdCalling

Second, cold calling has a bad reputation as a marketing tool. Most people find cold calls intrusive and obnoxious.

Third, conversion rates for cold calls are typically about 2%, compared to 20% for solid leads and 50% for referrals. With three strikes against cold calling, shouldn't you cross this marketing strategy off your list once and for all? No! The reason most cold calls fail is simply because they're done wrong.

If you're thinking of giving up on using the phone to generate leads, first ask yourself if it is cold calling that annoys people, or the way its done. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater - many small businesses have been built on the basis of successful cold-calling campaigns.

One of my clients, Steve, confessed that he didn't want to be bothered with most small business marketing activities. Give him a list of leads and a phone and in a couple of hours and he could find a warm prospect. Instead of alienating prospects, his cold calls resulted in more business.

Cold-calling worked for Steve because he was a master at it. You too can become a master of cold calling when you know how to prepare and how to make the calls using the strategy detailed below.

Why Do People Hate Most Cold Calls?

We're all assaulted by hundreds of advertising messages each day. Many we choose to ignore, a select few catch our interest. The ones that annoy us the most are the ones we are forced to pay attention to without any choice. If you want to overcome this natural resistance you’ll need to find out how to make your cold-calls less intrusive.

Get Your Prospects' Permission

One of the most effective ways to generate a lead on your website is to ask a prospect to give you his or her email address and then, with their permission, send them ideas and information they want.

The same is true when you pick up the phone to call a prospect. Get your prospect's permission, give them the information they want, and you can generate a warm lead and a sale.

The traditional approach to small business marketing and cold calling shoves a 'sell' in the prospect's face.

Most people don't respond well to this.

The more effective alternative is to get a prospect's attention, ask permission, find out what they want and then give them what they asked for.

How To Generate Leads and Sales with Your Phone Calls

Before you make the call; prepare for your marketing success

A. Don't blindly pick up the phone and except to get results. When at all possible, research your prospects' needs. The more you know about what they want the more effective you'll be on the phone. Depending on who you're calling, you can:

  • Research the individual company and person to identify problem areas where you could be of assistance. Send a letter or a series of postcards in advance of your call.
  • Use a response form on your web site or a postcard to prompt your prospects to tell you what they are looking for. On the form, ask the prospect to tell you what his biggest or most intractable problem is. When a prospect completes an inquiry form on your web site, you've got the most important thing to a successful call; their permission for you to contact them again, to discuss how you can help them.
  • Survey your existing clients to define the 3-5 reasons they find your products and services valuable.

B. Your first objective with a prospect isn't to sell to them. Before a sale can take place you need to establish rapport and find out what they want and need. If you haven't already done this with your marketing then you'll need to take the first couple of calls to do this and then you can move towards a sale.

Making the call - partner with your prospect

  1. State your name and ask the prospect if they have a moment. (Get their permission to continue the conversation)
  2. If they're busy, schedule a time to call back. This way you’ve got their permission to have the next conversation.
  3. Give them a reason to listen. Let them know you'll be brief and tell them why you are calling. Tell them what your firm does in terms of the benefits you provide. For example, 'We help hotels like yours increase bookings and generate more revenue per guest.'
  4. Tell them you'd like to ask them a couple of questions and get their permission to proceed. Then find out what's working and what's not and what types of solutions they are looking for.
  5. Summarize what they’ve told you about their needs and wants. Then ask them if you could solve the problems they just told you they wanted solved, whether it’d be worth schedule at time to talk further. Next, schedule a meeting or follow-up conversation.

Advertising, web sites, email, and sales letters are great ways to market your products and services, but... picking up the phone and personally talking to a prospect can get immediate results when you apply fundamental marketing principles and techniques.

Use these 5 steps to master marketing on the phone and you'll generate more lead and sales and have more fun marketing on the phone.

The author, Charlie Cook, helps small business owners and marketing professionals attract more clients, whether you are marketing in print, in person or online. Sign up for the Free Marketing eBook, '7 Steps to get more clients and grow your business', full of practical marketing strategies you can use to increase profits at