For those looking to get into sales, it might be easy to assume that Alec Baldwin’s character in Glengarry Glen Ross was right — that the only thing that matters is to get clients “to sign on the line which is dotted,” and that salesmen should “always be closing.”
That makes for one heck of a movie scene, but as we all know, there’s so much that leads up to that.
A foundation has to be established, and that takes time and effort. Many entry-level sales jobs will require cold-calling — reaching out to a business that you haven’t worked with previously in an effort to build a sales relationship.
This might be by phone or in person, and there are pitfalls to both. Remember how it feels to be bothered by a telemarketer hawking something, and how you reacted to it. That might very well happen to you – actually, it definitely will – when you’re making cold calls.
But like that old lottery cliché, you can’t win if you don’t play. Here are some tips on how to prepare for cold-calling:
1. Know the goal: Don’t fool yourself into thinking you’ll make a sale right then and there on a cold call. (Think about it: How many times have you bought something that way?) Use the cold call to get in front of the company’s decision-makers. In a face-to-face meeting, you have a better shot at proving that your product is worth their time and money.
2. Do your homework: Making a cold call shouldn’t mean you’re flying blind. Do a little digging, and know what the company does and who its customers are. Explore the company’s website. Do a Google search on the place. Go through its Facebook page and LinkedIn profiles — anything that might give you an idea on how to handle the call or visit.
3. Be prepared: A script of sorts will help, but it shouldn’t be something you depend on to get through a call. Make an outline of the major points you want to cover, and make it brief — being respectful of the person’s time is crucial. Don’t read straight from a script, of course, because it may come off as being robotic and insincere. Having bullet points or an outline in front of you might help to get the information out, and could be the difference between setting up a meeting and getting a dial tone. In person, you’ll need to know the information well enough to present it in a natural, conversational manner. And you’ll need to have quality sales materials on hand in case the conversation goes well.
4. Be enthusiastic: A friendly approach is helpful to break the ice, but don’t overdo it. No one wants to feel like they’re at a used-car lot, rolling their eyes at the cheesy salesman saying, “What’s it going to take to get you to drive this Buick LeSabre home today?” Be nice and positive. Be genuine, not artificial and grating.
5. Get over your hesitations: It’s normal to be nervous or intimidated by the idea of the cold call, because rejection is inevitable. Remember the goal of getting a meeting. When someone hangs up on you, or shows you the door with a gruff “Not interested,” try to stay positive. And move on to the next opportunity.