If you work in any type of sales position or you are the one promoting your business, chances are you will need to make cold calls (and emails) from time to time. When you are a customer on the receiving end of this, you can ended up feeling annoyed at the way the person tried to push you into a sale and angry that they wasted your valuable time. When you have had to make cold calls and send unsolicited emails, you may have felt apprehensive about doing so because of how you would be received and may have avoided doing this as much as possible. However, cold calling is a proven successful method of gaining new contacts, business partners, and increasing revenue, and it doesn’t have to be scary or annoying to either party when it is done right. There are several things to keep in mind when cold calling and if you follow these tips, they will ensure your success.

When on the phone with someone, respect their time—they may be very busy and are politely listening to what you have to say, but may have to get back to other work in ten minutes or so. Therefore, be brief and concise in what you are looking for and offering them. If you can, offer a small free promotional item or service with what you’re trying to sell. When someone hangs up on you, don’t think of it as the end; try contacting a different person in the company who may be more receptive to working with you. Make sure to be objective about your company and theirs as you discover how both of you may benefit from the relationship. Offer to help the person’s company in some way rather than making a sales pitch about you and your company. Focus on what’s happening at the moment during the call—don’t look to far ahead into the end result or push the process to get there—it takes time. Connect with them on a person-to-person level rather than using sales talk to put yourself in authority over them. Don’t chase the person. If they don’t answer your calls and emails or if they say no, you may want to try again at a later time, but for now, let it go. Finally, never ask “Is this a good time?” because this question immediately builds resistance to the conversation and if a wall is put up, it can only go downhill from there.

Before you make the phone call, research the company and any news about similar business they have done in the past. Knowing what the company is about and personalizing your approach will show them they are important and not just some name on your list. It’s all in how you view cold calling. Some see it as embarrassing and draining while others see it as preemptive to competitors, a window to new business possibilities, and a way to build your reputation. Cold calling puts you in control of the situation in a positive way. It can be the key to new opportunities that are free of prior expectations. Remember that it’s not a bother, it’s just business because unlike telemarketers, you’re calling people at work during business hours, not at home when they are eating dinner. Write out points to say in the call beforehand and practice a little bit to make you feel more comfortable.

When you are cold emailing, customize the email for each company or person and ask specific rather than general questions. Be sure to identify yourself clearly in the email. Consider the layout of the email and make it as short as possible while grouping sentences, adding bullets and bolding important information. Include a meaningful subject line to ensure that the person opens the email and has at least a vague idea about what you are going to talk about. Keep three things in mind when writing these types of emails: ethics, effectiveness, and etiquette. Be appropriate in your language and approach, be effective in convincing the person to contact you, and use proper etiquette for a first-time contact. If possible, avoid attachments—the person may not be able to open them and if they have unclear titles, they won’t bother to look at them.

Cold calling successfully can prove you are self-sufficient and sell yourself to your employer as more than what your position entails. After a receptive and successful first phone call, keep in contact with the company. Shift your thinking from “make the sale” to does it fit?” Following through means you follow up with the person. The average successful sale happens in four to five contacts or “touches”. Each individual call will determine what the next steps will be. With the right techniques and perspective, cold calling can be a tool for success in your company and increase revenue. Treat the people you call the same way you wish you had been treated during calls to you.

© 2012 eMarketing 4 Business LLC