When I got into network marketing a few years ago, we used to get weekly training on sales and marketing. One of the exercises we often did was to make cold phone calls. For many new entrepreneurs, making a phone call is so hard. Where do you start from? Who do you call? What do you tell them? What if they hang-up on you? What if they criticize you? What if they refuse your offer? Some even feel body sensations like a knot in the stomach, sweaty palms, some even start shaking.
If you such a person know that making a phone call is one of the fears you will have to face your entire life as an entrepreneur on a daily basis. Embrace it, get used to it, turn it to your advantage and get calling.
Here’s how to go about it:
- Make a list of people to call. Start with the contacts in your phone. Whether you have 50, 200 or 1000 contacts, start with those ones. Keep in mind that there’s no insignificant contact. Don’t look at a person as an individual. Each person is a network and you don’t know who they know or who they are related to. Someone shared recently how, after training the staff of a certain company, a student who was on attachment recommended him to his aunt who was a big shot in a leading bank; which led to one of his biggest contracts.
- Set aside time when you won’t experience distractions. You should be able to clearly hear the other person but most importantly, they should be able to hear you. When someone calls me from a loud bus or a noisy market place and claims that they can hear me clearly, on my side their voice comes through drowned in the noise.
- Ensure that you are in a positive frame of mind. Listen to your favourite music, watch or read something funny or uplifting before the call. Make the call while standing. Such a position opens up your chest and helps you project your voice easily. If you can’t stand, sit up. Smile. The other person can actually feel whether you are happy or not by the tone of your voice.
- Prepare a script. Write down who you are, what you are offering and the value it gives your interlocutor. End with a request for a meeting or a call for action depending on whether it’s a first or follow-up call. Rehearse the script until it becomes natural. You don’t have to recite it. The script helps you speak clearly and make a concise pitch.
- Ask whether your interlocutor is ready to talk at that time. “Hi. My name is Nani Fulani. Could we talk at this time?” Or “Could we talk for a few minutes?” Do this even if you are calling a friend. It’s a sign of respect for their time. They may have picked your call while in the middle of something else. You need to have their full attention and this will only happen when they are ready for you.
- Don’t waste time on small talk. Explain who you are, what you do and why you believe your product or service is of value to your interlocutor or someone else they may know. Be relaxed and friendly. Stay yourself. Answer any question confidently. The flow of the conversation will guide you on the tone to keep. The goal of a phone call is mainly to secure an appointment or to follow up on an action item. Guide the conversation towards the goal.
- Write down the details of the call, and diarise the follow up action. In the beginning I used lined cards such as the ones they use at medical clinics, which I kept in boxes by alphabetic order. Later I developed a daily prospecting report that I use for phone calls and meetings. I find these more useful as I keep them in box files and I can more easily record details such as the company I’m approaching, the contact person, what I’m offering them, their response, even what I was wearing for a meeting so that I don’t wear the same for the next one.
What’s your biggest challenge about making a phone call? Please share with me in the comments below.
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