Three things you should never do when making a cold call.

Reading time for this entry: Under 3 minutes.

1- Never start off by saying, “Hi.  My name is (insert name the prospect could care less about at this point here).”
Your prospect doesn’t know you so your name is meaningless to them.  I know you might think it sounds polite to introduce yourself.  But this isn’t a cocktail party.  It’s not a social gathering.  This is a cold call.  If it were a warm call you could remind the prospect who you are.  That makes sense.  But since it’s a cold call, you should just start by asking a question that seeks to uncover pain you can cure.  More on that in a moment.
2- Never say “How are you?”
Your prospect doesn’t know you.  They aren’t expecting your call.  You are surely interrupting them.  So the last thing you want to do is say, “Hi.  My name is (they really don’t care).  How are you?
Since you don’t know them, it’s absolutely disingenuous to ask how they are.  And it’s just sort of weird.  You just interrupted the prospect.  So he or she is thinking, “come on… you don’t care how I am… you don’t know me… so just tell me what you want!”.
3- Never pitch your product or service.
That’s right.  If you find yourself immediately saying “we’re the #1 seller of blah and we’ve sold hundreds of our blah to hundreds of customers just like you,” then please stop.  This is not the time for a pitch.  Not yet.  It’s time to illicit pain.  So start by asking questions.
Now back to the part about uncovering pain.
You can’t sell anything to anyone unless they have pain.  Real or perceived.  So, in order to sell something to someone, you better find the prospect’s pain… and fast!  Before they hang up on you.
Also, you should recognize that you can’t sell to everybody.  So don’t force it.  Try to find the people who have pain as quickly as possible.  The faster you eliminate people who don’t have pain, the faster you can get to the next call and find someone who does.
Start off by asking the single most common pain question you have in your arsenal.  This might require some research, thought and practice.  For instance, let’s suppose you’re selling pencils.  (Ha!)  And let’s say that pencils are most often purchased by the office manager.  So when you get the office manager on the phone, do you say the following?:
“Hi.  My name is (remember… they don’t care).  How are you?  I’m with ABC Pencils and our pencils are the best!”
I bet you think this sounds idiotic.  But this is pretty much what I hear every day a sales rep cold calls me.  They jump right into #1, #2 and #3 above.
Instead try this:
“Hi.  I hope I found the right person.  Have you had trouble with low quality pencils that break too easily, sharpen too slowly and never seem to get delivered on time?”
If they say “yes”, you can either ask more questions or introduce yourself and start presenting your benefit statements.  If they say “no”, ask the same question again in a slightly different way.  People are programmed to say no to everything.  It’s the first word we learn as infants.  It’s the first word we teach our dogs too!
So be sure to attempt to illicit pain again.  If you tweak your question, you could get a “yes” out of them.   For instance:  “Are you sure you’re not having delivery problems and quality issues with your pencils?”
Once a prospect feels the pain again, they are more likely to drop their programming to break down and say, “Well actually I am having some problems with my pencils”.
More on cold calls in future posts.  We have a three-minute limit here at the MarketSmart blog.
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