Whether it is by phone or door-to-door canvassing, there is a right way and a wrong way to do cold calling to ensure a positive outcome.
I had a recent experience with a door-to-door salesperson that personified everything I do not like about the practice of cold calling. It was not that the young man was not respectful, very personable and highly motivated, he was just not been prepared for success.
If cold calling or door-to-door canvassing is primarily how you source new business, then pay attention to these five common mistakes to avoid.
1. Calling into hostile territory.
There’s a reason my telephone numbers are registered on the national ‘Do Not Call’ list. I also live in a community where solicitation is strictly prohibited by the HOA, and signs are posted at the entrance that clearly state this fact. So, why are you contacting me? Disregarding the rules and regulations is unacceptable, and could open your company up to consumer complaints or lawsuits for questionable business practices.
2. Apologizing for the contact.
If you have to apologize for the call upfront, you are doing something wrong! In my example, the door-to-door salesperson knocked on my door at 7:00 pm on a Saturday evening when it was 102 degrees outside. Really? I know it is a common practice to call after 5:00 pm during the week and on the week-ends because people are more likely to be home. However, be careful that you don’t stretch the limits of acceptability. A better approach would be to call at a more reasonable day and time and thank the prospect for taking the call, so you are starting off on a positive note.
3. Talking about my neighbors.
I see this a lot with cold calling. The caller starts by telling me their service tech will be in my area in the next couple days to provide service to 17 or 18 of my neighbors, and would like to “service” my home while they are in the area. Two things here, first of all I don’t believe your number of 17-18 neighbors and second, what you are doing with my neighbors is none of my business. Building credibility and trust with the prospect is critical to securing new business. Talking about your value proposition versus the neighbors and what are you going to do for me is a much better path to success.
4. Not determining interest upfront.
Most cold calls I answer, which are infrequent, start with a product dump. What a waste of energy! You have to wait until the caller takes a breath (or hang up) before letting them know you are not interested. Then they catch their second wind and try to persuade you to buy their service anyway. Begin with a very brief (30 seconds or less) introduction – you, your company, value proposition, etc. Then determine if the prospect has an interest before expanding the conversation. This will save you a lot of time and energy, and help get you to motivated buyers quicker.
5. Failure to ask the right questions.
Related to #4, determining the prospect’s level of interest starts with asking the right questions. Do you have a current service provider? How long have you been working with them? On a scale of 1-5 how satisfied are you with the service you are receiving from them today? Would you be open to receiving a proposal from us? If yes to the final question, when would you be available to review our proposal? If no, may we follow-up with you in ‘X’ months to see if anything has changed?
In order to be successful at cold calling or door-to-door canvassing you have to be able to deal with a high percentage of failure and ‘no’ responses and keep moving forward. However, you can increase your odds of a successful outcome by avoiding these five common mistakes.
Do you cold call in your job or personal life? Is there a tactic you use that improves your response rate?