Let me begin by stating that absolutely no one looks forward to or even enjoys the act of cold calling prospects. Even your super sales-y friend who makes hundreds of thousands of dollars a year doing it doesn’t love it.

The bottom line is cold calling is hard, and it’s awkward, but it can also be satisfying and fruitful — as long as you’re doing it right. Whether or not you’re starting from the bottom with zero cold calls under your belt, or you’re a cold calling veteran, here are five do’s and don’ts that are sure to up your cold calling game.

1. DON’T go off the cuff. DO have a script memorized.

Make sure that before you begin dialing numbers, you have a clear and concise script to go off of. Write one that you’ll use if you receive a voicemail and one to use if the prospect answers your call.

Yes, a script is meant to be read, but don’t read this one: memorize it. It’s annoying and obvious when someone is reading off of a script. The only thing you should be reading off of the script is who you’re calling and any personal information you may have regarding the prospect and your business like past event inquiries or even past events held at your venue.

For instance: “Hi Lauren, This is Kate Kennedy and I’m calling from Bluewater Restaurant. You held your holiday party with us in 2019 and I am calling to let you know about some exciting renovations we made in the past year and how they could make your next holiday party even more amazing than the last.”

Master your 15-20 second pitch. Your script is essentially your sales pitch. We all know that nothing is sold in 15-20 seconds, but having your concise pitch ready and memorized can make or break your deal. Most importantly you want to hone in on the value you are offering and what you can do for them.

2. DON’T say these things. DO say these.

Remove questions like, “Is now a good time?” or “How are you doing today?” I realize that asking someone how they are doing can be seen as cordial, but unless you know the person really well, it feels awkward and you could end up with an answer like, “I’m horrible, how are you?” Remove that question altogether and instead say something like, “Thanks for taking the time to talk with me.” That’s being cordial without looking for a personal answer in return.

“Is now a good time?” can also set your call up for disaster. The person on the other end can simply say “No” and hang up. If it’s really a bad time for the person you’re calling, they’ll let you know. Try to stay away from yes or no questions altogether as they give the person on the other line a quick out.

Never, ever apologize for calling. For example, do not say “I’m sorry for bothering you.” This pretty much tells the person on the other end that you’re going to annoy them before you’ve even started your pitch. Apologizing during a cold call is weak. Address the guilt you have for cold calling in another way.

I’ve said this before with emails, and the same goes for cold calling, never ever use the word “just.” In fact, if you really want to be successful just take that word out of your vocabulary when it comes to your career. Why? There’s a whole lot of can’t and doubt behind the word just. It downplays your potential and the potential of your venue.

Examples are: “I just wanted to call to tell you …” or “I’m just checking in.” or “Just wondering.” It’s dismissive and it lacks awareness and that’s a bad look to have when you’re trying to sell something.

3. DON’T hang up when you get voicemail. DO have a voicemail pitch ready to go.

It’s no secret that the majority of cold calls go to voicemail, this makes it absolutely crucial to master the art of leaving a voicemail that will spark curiosity in your prospects. Your voicemail should be no more than 30 seconds, but 20 seconds is optimal. Talk slowly, clearly, and with a purpose to get your point across.

Remember that most prospects will not call you back so do not ask them to. Give your name and the name of your business at the start and the end of the voicemail. Tell them why you’re calling and what value you can offer them.

Once you’ve left the voicemail, immediately send them a follow-up email. This will help you to create a multi-touch approach and make it easier for them to reply. But again, remember, it’s not their job to follow up. It’s yours. Never assume a prospect is going to respond in any way to a voicemail because chances are they won’t.

4. DON’T ramble on and on. DO speak in 1 to 2 clear sentences at a time.

Being short and concise with your words is an important aspect of cold-call sales. Studies have shown that the human brain can only hang onto 20-30 seconds of information at a time. This means that your prospect will most likely only remember 30 seconds of your entire conversation. So keep it short and sweet and stick to high-level explanations of what you’re selling. If the prospect begins to ask for more detailed information then you know they’re interested and you can dive deeper.

5. DON’T call and frown. DO call and smile.

This may seem silly, but smiling while cold calling is a proven way to be more successful at it. No matter how genuine the smile is, the act of smiling alone is a surefire way to build your confidence and create a more comfortable situation for you and the prospect.

Need more hard evidence to support this? Researchers at the University of Kansas found that even a fake grin was proven to destress participants during a stressful situation, and even lower their heart rates. It’s also been found that when you smile on the phone, the person on the other end can sense (or hear) you smile making them feel more at ease as well.

More resources

Still hungry for more information? Check out our Tripleseat University video below on the Do’s and Dont’s of cold calling.

You can also check out the recording of this session from our recent sales and marketing seminar where Jonathan Morse, Tripleseat’s CEO, talks about what he calls “warm calling.”  

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