Cold calling and emailing are tricky and nerve racking. Everyone was taught not to talk to strangers as kids, and here you are not only jumping on someone’s phone or in their inbox, but you’re asking them for something on top of the intrusion. But there are tricks to make it work (and make it less weird).
Be enthusiastic about what you’re selling. You can’t expect a virtual stranger to care if you don’t.
Make a list, and do plenty of research. The term ‘cold calling’ gives the impression that you’re just stabbing in the dark waiting for something to land, but it’s the opposite. Create a list of the people who might be interested in your products or services, and then spend plenty of time digging in to their company, history, wants, and needs before you even pick up the phone.
Be strategic about when you call. If you want your products sold in local boutiques, figure out when they typically start buying products for the next season.
Be concise. Nobody wants to listen to someone ramble, especially someone they don’t know. Your pitch should be 60 seconds or less, preceded by about 60 seconds of small talk / introductions.
Don’t expect to get on the phone with the decision maker right away. Unless you’re targeting another one person show, you’ll probably go through at least one gatekeeper before you get the right person on the phone. The gatekeeper, and your relationship with him or her, is equally as important as the relationship you develop with the decision maker later. Be personable, be kind, and be persuasive.
Create a loose script. Your cold calls should never actually feel scripted, and you always need to personalize them with details you’ve gleaned during the research phase. But a basic script helps you stay on message and remain concise.
Your tone matters almost as much as what you say. If you sound sheepish or snobby, embarrassed or obnoxiously confident, you’re going to lose the contact before you make it past the initial introduction. Focus on being warm yet professional; curious about the person and their needs yet confident in your abilities. Not sure how you sound on the phone? Record your voice using different strategies and then have a listen, tweaking your ‘phone voice’ as needed.
Keep everything short. Your subject line should be less than 50 characters, and the recipient should have a solid idea as to what they’re in for within the first two sentences of the email’s body.
Find and make personal connections. During your research phase, look for some common ground you have with the contact and add it to the email. Is he or she wearing an OSU hoodie in their LinkedIn picture? Talk about last weekend’s score or what you’re excited about for the upcoming season. Just keep it to a quick quip or one sentence – this person isn’t your bestie (yet).
Keep preview panes in mind. Most email platforms show off the first sentence in some manner, and if you don’t make it strong, your email is going right in the trash.
Focusing on helping, not overselling. You can’t give anyone the world, and it’s a pretty terrible sales tactic to claim that you can – you aren’t fooling anyone. Center the email on how your product or service can benefit the person that you’re contacting. Nobody wants to have smoke blown at them by a salesperson, but they do want someone to offer them help.
Find a way to ask specific questions. Whether you ask them to tell you more about their business, request a time to talk on the phone, or give them a three-line multiple choice question pertaining to your pitch, you’ve given them a reason to contact you outside of making a purchase.
Be human, and acknowledge that cold emails are weird. You aren’t going to trick anybody into thinking that you’re a long-lost business contact; instead, acknowledge the fact that getting a random email from a stranger is kind of annoying, but then move on to explain why you felt like it was still a good idea (hint: focus on how you can benefit them).
Whether you’re emailing or calling, keep these three rules in mind: always personalize your pitch to the contact; expect no response or a rude response and don’t take either personally; and finally, be friendly, honest, and personable.