If you ask a small business owner what they fear most, probably the most common response (aside from bankruptcy) is cold calling. This is a shame because cold calling can be one of the most powerful tools in your small business marketing toolbox. I recently I had the opportunity to speak to Tom Kaufmann, founder and president of TK Enterprises Inc., a Toronto based (GTA) company that specializes in sales strategies for both small and large companies. Mr. Kaufmann has had decades of experience in the sales industry, and was kind enough to share some great information on how to make cold calling work for your company.
According to Mr. Kaufmann, the average marketing approach such as direct mail or advertising usually has a success rate of two to five percent, with ten percent being an outstanding number. But in his experience a successful cold calling program can achieve a success rate of twenty-five percent or higher when done correctly. You would think most business owners would be clamouring to start a cold calling program with such a success rate; but the general lack of them in the small business world reveals how much most people fear calling up a perfect stranger.
Fortunately, Mr. Kaufmann believes that anyone can become successful at cold calling by following these basic strategies:
- Practice, practice, practice. As you start out at cold calling it will take time to develop your voice and overcome any anxiety. The more you do it, the less nervous you will be and it will eventually become a habit.
- Have a script. Don’t just call someone up and adlib your sales pitch. Have a well written script you can read from.
- Pick your target market and analyze it. When you phone a prospective customer ensure you understand their business and their needs. If you can address a problem they are having, they will be much more receptive to you.
Mr. Kaufmann also outlined some things to avoid doing:
- Don’t hound your prospects. Give it your best shot but if it’s a firm “no” then don’t bug them with repeated calls.
- Failing to ask any questions. Don’t make the conversation completely one-sided, try and engage your prospect in a conversation.
- Failing to leave a message. It is ok to leave a message, you don’t always need to get a prospect on the phone.
Besides his sales strategy work, Mr. Kaufmann also engages in cold calling for specific clients. He has done cold calling for a large computer manufacturer, and he used that as an example of how the techniques above can be used. For this client, Mr. Kaufmann targeted a major government department. Using the internet and other directories, Mr. Kaufmann made hundreds of cold calls to track down the key decision makers. The end result was significant increase in sales for his client. So it is nice to see someone practicing what they preach.
In the end, if you feel cold calling is something you can’t stomach, you always have the option of engaging professionals like Mr. Kaufmann. But it is always good to try it yourself first. After all, no one knows your business better than you. So the next time you pick up a phone, remember it is probably one of the most powerful marketing tool out there.
Scott Moore is passionate about all things related to running and growing a small business. If you would like more information on running a small business, please visit Bizz Support Solutions.