Cold Calling to Grow Your Small Business

A lot of small business owners wonder if cold calling is a good way to grow their business and form important relationships. It’s important to know that cold calling isn’t dead. It can often lead to growth. Even Uber started out cold calling, and, if you know how to use it, it can help your business too.

Follow these steps below to help you shape and execute a cold calling strategy for your small business.

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What is cold calling?

Cold calling is a technique in which a salesperson contacts individuals who have not previously expressed interest in the offered products or services. Cold calling typically refers to solicitation by phone or telemarketing, but can also involve in-person visits, such as with door-to-door salespeople.

Why is cold calling important?

Cold calling has a very specific purpose: to have a human-to-human interaction with your current or potential customers. Often, this purpose is forgotten – not because it's unimportant, but because most salespeople don't like doing it. However, telemarketing continues to prove itself as a tried-and-true method of seller-generated lead generation.

Is cold calling effective?

Cold calling is still an incredibly effective way to connect with prospects if you stay informed on who your buyers are, how they buy, and how you can solve their problems, especially if you're looking to save time, money, and effort.

Goals of cold calling

Before you make a single call, be sure you have your goals outlined. Here are some suggestions to consider when you’re on the phone with a prospect:

Generate leads

Generating solid leads generally starts with introducing your business to a decision maker who needs your product or service. This goal allows you to gauge interest and start engagement that leads to the sales funnel.

Qualify leads

After generating leads from sources like lead list databases or online webforms, cold calling can be used to determine if a prospect is likely to make a purchase from your business. A call to qualify leads helps you discover business needs, customer happiness with current products or services, and readiness to buy.

How to Start Cold Calling

Prepare yourself or your team before cold calling. First, determine exactly what leads your business needs to target based on buyer personas or ideal customer types. Organize your contact information, set cold calling goals, and write scripts outlining what you and your team will say during calls.

Research 

The first step here is to define your ideal target market. Consider who you want to sell to and what characterizes the leads most likely to need the products or services you sell. It would also be helpful to consult with the decision-makers.

Avoid wasting calls on bad phone numbers – it’s crucial that you’re working with the most accurate and up-to-date contact information available to avoid wasting call time on bad phone numbers.

Software can help you prepare for a call, handle voicemails, emails, texts, and other repetitive workflows, manage leads and communication history, and improve sales agents’ efficiency and ability to close deals. Check Capterra® (capterra.com) for reviews of cold calling software for small businesses.

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Prepare a contact list

Organize your call list and sort by industry, business size, lead score, or some other factor. This list typically includes the contact’s name, job title (for B2B leads), phone number, and any additional notes like their current vendor or previous interactions with your company.

Set goals

You want to make sure you and your team aren’t spinning wheels and wasting valuable time. Set goals like how many calls to place, the number of conversions compared to the number of calls, and what kind of results you want to achieve.

Create call scripts

It’s a best practice to prepare scripts to use as a guide. Of course, you should try not to read off a script to avoid sounding like a robot. Instead, use scripts as a guide for your team and aim to address various scenarios that might arise.

Here are examples of different types of cold calling scripts and how to use them:

  • Cold call appointment script: To get an appointment scheduled with the prospect
  • Gatekeeper script: To get decision-maker information like who to contact and how to reach them
  • Referral script: For citing the mutual connection who referred the prospect to your business
  • Qualifying script: To determine whether a prospect is qualified, or a good potential fit for your business
  • No answer voicemail script: For when a prospect is unavailable, or your call is sent to voicemail

Start calling!

After you’ve prepared, it’s time to jump in. Here are a few details to consider:

Relax 

Create the right cold calling environment. This can be done by using a cordless phone or headset so that you can stand or even walk around while placing calls. Talking while standing generally makes you sound more confident and natural. It’s also a good idea to memorize and rehearse the key points of your scripts so you don’t sound robotic on the phone.

Follow the script

Introduce yourself, state the reason for your call, make a brief pitch as to how your business can support them, and include a CTA.

Document details

Even if the call seems like it was unsuccessful, take notes and about adjustments that could make your efforts more effective. One of the big goals of cold calling is to develop relationships, so don’t expect to close the sale initially. Instead, focus on getting the lead to the next stage in the sales process.

Following up on inquiries

Cold calling can also be used to follow-up on various types of inquiries such as downloading something from your website, submitting an online interest form, subscribing to your newsletter, or following up with referrals. Although technically these types of leads are already aware of, or even interested, it is still considered cold calling if you are contacting them without prior direct contact.

Final thoughts

Cold calling is definitely considered one of the toughest aspects of a sales job. Even sales people who excel at cold calling don’t necessarily love it all the time. Cold calling requires you to be prepared, think fast, drive right to the core of a business pain, and present your business offerings as a potential solution. Be persistent in your efforts and never give up.

Like anything, cold calling is a skill. Give yourself and your team the best chance at success by working off strong lists, setting goals, closing deals, and following up.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: The SmartBiz® Small Business Blog and other related communications from SmartBiz Loans® are intended to provide general information on relevant topics for managing small businesses. Be aware that this is not a comprehensive analysis of the subject matter covered and is not intended to provide specific recommendations to you or your business with respect to the matters addressed. Please consult legal and financial processionals for further information.

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