For 99% of the population, cold calling is one of the worst parts of selling. The rejection can be harsh and no one likes to feel that way.
But what if I told you that cold calling is actually amazing (and profitable) if you just knew how to do it the right way?
Jennifer Gilbert, founder of Save the Date, an eight-figure, award winning hospitality agency loves to cold call and has figured out the secret formula to make them wildly successful. “Whenever I read about an event we didn’t produce or a company or charity gala that I want to do, I just pick up the phone and go for it. I love making cold calls—probably because I’ve perfected closing the deal on them,” says Gilbert.
Here are Jennifer’s six tips for closing a cold call every time.
1. Do Your Research
“Try turning a cold call into a warm one by figuring out if you know anyone at the firm that you can use as a referral or if you know anyone your contact also knows,” says Gilbert. “Go through Linkedin or other professional or personal networks. I also always have a cheat sheet with the names of three of their competitors. On the phone, I’ll say, ‘I thought meeting up would interest you because Competitors A and B have already made appointments for me to come in.’ People always want to know what others are doing, and have a fear of missing out.”
2. Use Humor
“I always try to make the call disarming or funny. Recently, a point of contact picked up the phone and before she could say anything, I said, ‘Why didn’t I plan your event with you? Was it something I said?’ Then she said, ‘Ah, huh? Who is this?’ And I started laughing and said, ‘I’m sorry’ and introduced myself. It caught her off guard but I was able to schedule a meeting with her the next week.
“When I get someone on the phone that asks me to call them back the next day, and then the day after, I will say “Did we break up?” or “Are you breaking up with me?” I generally get them laughing, then we talk business,” explains Gilbert.
3. Ask For What You Want
“It’s amazing what people will tell you if you ask them, nicely. If they are the right person and don’t have time to speak to you, ask them if you can swing by, drop them a coffee or lunch and sit with them for 10 minutes. If they aren’t the right person, ask them who makes the decision, and if they can transfer you,” suggests Gilbert.
“If they haven’t started thinking about their events, ask them when you should call them back. And if they already think you are great, ask them for three other people they may know who would also love you! That’s how you turn a cold call into a pipeline.”
4. Make It A Conversation
Speak slowly and remember it is not a sale it is small talk. If you love and believe in the product or service that you are selling, you are enlightening someone about something they don’t have that they should. It’s about making their life better or easier so you want to come on to the call calmly like you’re sharing the secret with them. I start with, “Jane, I have got to tell you what I do and how we can help you.” Make it about you making their life easier, better or more efficient.
5. Let Them Do The Talking
“I made a huge mistake once that I’ll never make again. I had a great vibe going with a point of contact and proceeded to tell her about all the new venues I had access to just in time to book the best dates for their holiday party. Her reply, ‘Oh, too bad. We only do a big summer outing.’ It was a bit late to say well we do those too! I had to wait for another call to re-pitch summer ideas. If I had asked her, ‘What type of events do you have or plan?’ I would have known exactly what to sell,” remembers Gilbert.
Be sure to listen more than you speak. It’ll give you clues into how to add more value and be a resource for them right when they need it.
6. Have Your Next Steps Before You Hang Up
“Do not get off that phone without getting some sort of information,” notes Gilbert. “For me, it’s where their event was last year. With that small piece of knowledge, I can figure out how many people went to the event, what their general budget was and what their style is. The next time I call, I am armed with four other venues that are in the same budget and fit their needs. I get them curious, and then my next step is to advise we go see them. They start working with me before they even realize it.”