Closing Cold Calls

frustrated man on phone
Closing your cold calls. Thomas Barwick/Stone/Getty Images

Every salesperson knows that you have to close every sale, because prospects aren't going to do it for you. But what you may not realize is that it's just as important to close your cold calls. In the case of a cold call you're closing for an appointment rather than a sale, but the same principles apply.

Don't make the mistake of trying to close the whole sale during your cold call. It won't work. There is no way to fully qualify a prospect, collect information about his needs, and come up with a solution in a single brief phone call.

The only exception to this rule is the rare occasion when you call a prospect who has already decided to buy but hasn't taken action yet. In that case, he may invite you to extend the cold call out so that you can go through the whole sales cycle in one call. However, this situation is rare and comes under the category of a windfall sale.

In the vast majority of calls your goal will be to get the prospect to schedule an appointment with you. This appointment may be face-to-face or it may be another, lengthier phone call, or even a virtual meeting by webcam. Your bonus cold calling goal is to at least partly qualify the prospect during your initial call, so that you can reduce the chances of wasting your time (and theirs) if they can't buy from you in the first place.

If you want to get your prospect to agree on an appointment, your task throughout the call will be showing him that a future meeting will benefit him in some way.

Prospects don't care about your sales numbers and commission check; they want to know WIIFM. And you'll typically have just a few minutes on the phone to show them. So at every point in the call you must exert yourself to show the benefits that you can offer.

The first step to closing the appointment is getting the prospect to stay on the phone long enough.

To that end, your opening statement is perhaps the single most important part of the entire call. If you can craft and deliver a really good opener you will catch your prospect's attention and get him listening to you. If you don't get him interested right away, the odds are that he'll make an excuse and hang up as soon as he realizes that you're a salesperson.

Once you've gotten the ball rolling with a great opener and have piqued your prospect's interest, the next step towards closing is getting his permission to ask a few questions. You can easily present this as a benefit to the prospect by saying something like, “Before I take up more of your time I want to be sure that my product is the right fit for you. May I ask a few quick questions?” Now you've brought up the benefit of saving him time, so he's more likely to agree.

If the prospect seems to be qualified, at this point you can start wrapping up the close. Again, it's important to frame your upcoming appointment as a thing of value for your prospect.

You can do this openly by offering him a freemium, free trial, gift or service. If that's not an option, you'll need to give him a taste of the benefits your product will bring him. However, if you go on and on about your product in a cold call, he'll lose interest. The idea is to give him just enough information to intrigue him, so that he'll actually want to hear more from you in your upcoming meeting.

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