By LYNNE CONLAN
Executive Director, Sun City Center Area Chamber of Commerce
Anyone who has ever had a job is sales is familiar with the term “cold call.”
Cold calls can strike fear in the hearts of even the most seasoned sales professionals. They take you out of your comfort zone and plop you directly in front of business owners you’ve never met before and who might not have the time or patience for you or your sales pitch.
Some people are naturals at cold calls, others not so much. One of our chamber members is the owner and sole salesman for his company. His closing rate is around 85 percent.
What makes him a natural at cold calls is he knows his product and services and has a clear message. He offers straight-forward solutions, determines immediately his prospects’ needs and expectations and always goes in for the close.
He’s been in business more than 30 years, so he doesn’t even realize he’s making cold calls. To him, he’s just talking to his next customer. Now that’s an approach to emulate.
But others find the whole concept very daunting. For these poor souls, when the boss says next Tuesday everyone is going out to cold call, they quickly try to think up which fatal disease they can catch to skip work that day.
I have been on both sides of this issue. At one of my former jobs, I couldn’t wait to get out there and face the public. I was passionate about the product and knew I could convince anyone within hearing distance that they needed to open their checkbooks.
At another job, the passion was not there. I wanted that imaginary fatal disease. In the end, I had to move on. Your hearts must be in it for you to succeed.
I thought I could offer up a couple of tried and true tips.
First and foremost, focus on your prospect, not yourself. I’m sure you are very fascinating, but you are not the focus of attention on a cold-call day. While you shouldn’t follow any cold call scripts, you should plan your questions in advance. Don’t attempt to close a sale on your first cold call, which for many salespeople means leave your price sheets, your sample book and that list of testimonials in the car.
It’s your first call, don’t overwhelm your prospect. And even though it’s a cold call, try to judge if the business you are wandering into is the correct fit for your product. If you sell fish food and you’re going into Boggs Jewelry, it may not be a good match. Especially when you notice their bin of donated cat products right in front of their entrance.
Speaking of cold calls, that’s what I’m going to be doing, one day each week. I’m looking forward to reconnecting with old friends and meeting many new folks. I just hope you’ll let me into those buildings that clearly say, “No solicitation.”
Remember, I’m the one who said no selling or overwhelming on that first call. Although I’m sure we’ll get around to talking about what chamber membership can do for your business, I’m eager to meet you and learn about your business. Looking forward to seeing you soon.