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How to Cold Call – the Professional Way


Today I want to give you a quick overview on how to do a decent cold call. Now I know there are tons of sales training courses out there but I’m gonna give you our method because, for some reason, I can never seem to find any sales book that comes even close to the one that we use.

The First Step: Research

Most people are terrified of doing a sales call, so the first step to make this successful, is to research the company before you even call them. You need to know all kinds of things about them like:

  • how long have they been around?
  • what sort of services do they offer?
  • who are their target markets?
  • what are the recent events that they’ve been through?

As you’re reading through that information, you need to be formulating in your mind, “how do they need me? why do they need my service? or why do they need my product?” By the time you have spent a half hour to an hour researching the company, you should have visualized in your mind exactly why they need your service before you call them.

Now, if it turns out that all the research you’ve done convinces you that they probably don’t need your product or service, then you stop there and you don’t even call them. Easy!

The Second Step: Plan Your Talking Points

Once you’ve done your research, you need to plan a little introduction so that, when you get the right person on the phone, you know what to say. The thing is, the biggest mistake that a lot of salespeople make is that they start with a script. They start talking and talking and talking and yet they never hear whether the person on the other end of the phone is even interested. And they never even get that other person to engage.

So what you need to do is have a very quick introduction to who you are and then you need to ask them a couple of quick questions to establish that they are listening. And those questions also communicate to them that you have done your homework on them and that you’re not just starting at the A’s in the phone book and working your way through to the Z’s.

The Third Step: Close-Ended Questions

Make the call and introduce yourself. Then follow-up with a few quick close-ended questions that just let the person on the other end of the phone go “yes, yes” a couple of times. Here’s an example:

“Hello, this is my [first name] [last name] and [company name] and I was reading about you online. I understand you guys do [this] and [this] and [this].”

“Yes, we do.”

“And that you’ve recently expanded a part of the business.”

“Yes, we have.”

The Fourth Step: Open-Ended Questions

Now it’s time to expand into a few open-ended questions. This prompts them to recognize that you’re serious and that you’ve done your homework:

“So how is that expansion going?”

“Oh, it’s going really well/it’s not going well.”

“So has it grown like you thought?” or “Are you on schedule?” or “Are you looking at expanding?” and then say, “well the reason I really wanted to talk to you is that our company does [this] and [this] and [this]. We’ve helped a lot of companies like yours do [this] and [this] and [this]. I was thinking that there might be a possible need to work together.”

Ask another question or two, to keep the conversation going. Now, from here, what you need to do is really listen to what the customer says and ask questions that are relevant to what they’re asking you or what they’re talking about.

The Fifth Step: Book the Meeting

Eventually, they will arrive at the stage of saying, “well, so what is it that you guys do? how could you help me?” Answer briefly and follow-up with asking to set-up a meeting:

“Well, I think would be worthwhile for us to sit down and talk. What does your week look like? this week or next week? if this week doesn’t look good how about next week?”

To Recap

Step 1: Do your research first.

Step 2: Prepare for the conversation.

Step 3 and 4: Ask a few closed-ended questions and a series of open-ended questions.

Step 5: Keep the conversation going and, when the person on the other end of the phone starts asking you questions, that’s when you say, “hey, I think it might be worthwhile for us to get together. How does your schedule look like this week?”

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Jacqueline Drew
About the Author - Jacqueline Drew
Jacqueline M. Drew, BComm MBA is CEO of Tenato Strategy Inc., a Calgary-based marketing research and strategy firm. She loves to use her superpowers "to help the good guys win" and is also an energetic supermom, bandleader and songwriter.

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