5 mistakes to avoid when making Cold Calls

avoid cold calling mistakesCold calling is a fact of life in sales. Despite all the books and blogs announcing that cold calling is dead, the reality is that you will be making cold calls throughout your career. That being the case, here are 5 mistakes you should avoid when making cold calls –

Mistake 1 – Not having a goal in mind:

It’s not enough just to pick up the phone and start dialing. While “dialing for dollars” is a catchy phrase, the fact remains you must have a goal in mind.

Are you trying to set an appointment?

Are you trying to get the prospect to trial your service?

Are you inviting the prospect to watch a webinar?

Know why you are calling before jumping on the phone.

Mistake 2 – Not using the direct phone number:

Vorsight, a sales consulting firm, has an excellent blog post on the importance of using direct lines. See “Direct lines: the often overlooked element of sales prospects”.

(Full disclosure: I took sales training from Vorsight).

In a nutshell, Vorsight argues that you can dramatically increase your effectiveness by using direct lines as opposed to going through the nightmare of calling the prospect’s main phone number. As we all know from experience, when you dial a main company phone number, you could literally spend several minutes going through options before you reach the decision-maker. That’s the time you simply don’t have when working on commission.

There are several lead generation tools on the market that you can use. For example, I’ve used Data.com (formerly Jigsaw from Salesforce.com). While not 100 percent accurate, it’s still very helpful. If you work in the IT industry, consider using RainKing. DiscoverOrg.com is also good if you are working in both the financial and IT industry. Sometimes I’ve been successful in finding a prospect’s direct phone number by using Google.

Mistake 3– Not doing some research in advance:

You are not a telemarketer. You are not using sales scripts. You have to put a little thought into making each call. You should try to be a little unique in order to stand out from the rest of the salespeople making calls to your prospects. How can you do that? By doing a little research before making each call. You don’t have to spend hours researching a prospect or his business. Just go to LinkedIn – read his profile. Maybe check out the company’s website. Find some nugget of information that could help you. Example – if your prospect worked at one of your current clients, mention that. If you know for a fact that your prospect is having a problem that your product or service can help, mention that too. Being a little original can go a long way to helping you increase your sales.

Mistake  4 – Phone calls are not enough: 

With all the noise and business in the world, you can’t rely on your phone anymore to generate sales. Cold calling isn’t just picking up the phone and making zillions of calls every day. You have to use a combination of tools to get through, including email, voice mail, and direct marketing pieces. Sometimes sending out unique swag like a magnet or mouse pad with your company’s logo and contact information may be the trick.

In advertising there is any old saying when trying to reach an audience – “you have to advertise on different days in multiple ways.” In cold calling, you have to contact your prospects on different days in multiple ways.

Mistake 5 – It’s not about you:

The focus should be on the prospect – not you. Doing a product or benefit dump doesn’t make sense until you learn if what you are offering has any value for your prospect. Your prospect isn’t buying products and services – he’s trying to find a solution to his problem.

Cold calling can be hard work. But it can get easier if you have a plan, get to the point, and focus on your prospect.