Cold calling: How to sell over the phone

Picking up the phone and selling your services to a complete stranger can seem daunting, but there are techniques you can employ to enhance your sales and cold-calling skills. Success rates are around 5%, though, so be prepared for rejection. This guide shows you to improve your cold-calling strategy and become a sales sensation in three easy steps.

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Research your target market

It's important to target cold calling at the right audience, so find out as much as you can about the company or individual you are calling and confirm names and job titles to kick off the call. Cold-calling isn't all about making sales - you can use it to collect information about the business or arrange a face-to-face pitch. You can use this information in your call to highlight your target customer's specific needs and explain why your business can help.

  • Use market research to find out more about your target market
  • Cold-calling isn't just about making sales
  • Pinpoint your potential customer's specific needs to increase the relevance of the call

Be prepared

Drafting a script before you ring up a prospective customer will give you something to focus on, improve your flow and delivery and give the recipient less of a chance of terminating the call. Prepare a set of open questions rather than ones that can be answered with 'yes' or'no'.  Don't stick to these too rigidly, however, as you could put the recipient off, but if the call does not seem to be progressing, you can refer back to your questions and try a different angle.

  • A script will help to keep you focused and will give you support
  • Don't rely too much on a script, however - try to sound as natural as possible
  • Use open questions to avoid chances of the call ending abruptly

Know the rules

Businesses and consumers can opt out of sales calls by subscribing to the Corporate Telephone Preference Service (CTPS) and the consumer equivalent, the TPS.  If you intend to cold call, you must purchase a list of numbers held on these registers and screen them against your target list. However, calls for market research purposes are exempt from this registry.

  • Ensure you are up to date with cold-calling legislation
  • Filter out numbers if necessary