Cold Calling. Is it still Effective?

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Does cold calling really work? Several books have been written about the value of cold calling and how it can help you grow your business. And several more claim that cold calling is a complete waste of time; its effectiveness is a myth. So who is right?

The clear answer is: it all depends! The value of cold calling as a lead-generation tool depends on you…your goals and the size of your sales. If the policy being sold has a low margin or commission, then one could easily argue that cold calling is NOT an effective growth strategy.

But, on the other hand, if the average margin or commission is high (and has a future and net value), the numbers more than likely will prove that cold calling is a valuable part of an overall new business marketing effort. When it comes to cold calling, the size of the sale (in comparison to the hard and soft costs needed to generate it) does matter and is the primary factor in determining for the agent whether or not they should even pick up the phone.

If you are cold calling now; if you intend to start cold calling; if you have to cold call and don’t want to — UIG is here to help. After all, cold calling, in and of itself…well, is challenging!

However, if you’re up to the challenge here are some things to keep in mind:

Sales is a numbers game.

In order to hit productive numbers, you’ll need a full pipeline of leads at all times, and a sound strategy and process. But there is no one strategy that will resonate with every audience every time. It’s best to have a multifaceted approach that could include cold calling, social media, networking, purchasing lists, etc.

Call with purpose.

First things first: do your homework and be selective. The entire yellow pages should not be your target audience. Pick a certain industry to focus on, such as bars and taverns, doctors, lawyers, etc. While you may be a generalist in practice, defining your audience will help you be more efficient with your time, resources and ability to perfect your pitch.

Develop a call script.

You know your products/services inside out, so why do you need to develop a script? Because in the business of cold calling, you have 30 seconds or less to grab someone’s attention, so your pitch had better be spot on. Write out what you want to say. This will help you stay on task, avoid rambling and ensure that you get across the key messages that a prospect needs to quickly learn about you in order for them to decide what they want to do next.

Practice the script.

Out loud. In front of a mirror. Smile while you’re talking. Time your delivery. Keep it succinct. Practice often. Enough said.

Develop a strategy for calling.

Out of a 40-hour work-week, identify how much time you can dedicate to making calls and then determine how many calls are you going to make in a day? In a week? This number should be based on goals. What are you looking to earn and how many sales will it take to hit that goal?

Simple math: 10 calls = 1 appointment.

If your goal is to write $100,000 policies a month with the average policy being $20,000; assuming you have a 50 percent closing rate, you’ll need to set 10 appointments, which means you need to make a minimum of 100 calls, a little over 20 calls per week, an average of 4 – 5 calls a day.

Bring your “A” game.

Be positive and energetic. This is where smiling when you’re talking comes into play. It may sound silly, but people can “hear” your facial expression, so make it a good one!

Know when to say “when.”

What isn’t being said is as important as what your prospect is saying, when it comes to gauging interest. If the consumer isn’t offering conversation that is productive, move on to the next prospect.

Above all else, be persistent and stay resilient.

Nine out of 10 people will be interested in at least reviewing information that you can send via snail mail or email to them. Keep in mind, you’re dealing with people that, in general, will be more apt to review your information because they are a commercial business.

As you continue to build your business, you will begin to receive referrals and will start to build your “warm call” list.

Be prepared to follow-up.

Ask to schedule an appointment. Oftentimes the opportunity to sit face-to-face with a prospect is missed simply because we don’t ask for the meeting. Once you set the appointment, offer your prospect your information in the event he or she needs to reschedule. This way, the onus is on the prospect to call and cancel versus you having to call to confirm. If the appointment is a couple of weeks out, write a handwritten “thank you for your time,” thanking the prospect ahead of time for the opportunity to meet. This is not only a great relationship building tool, as anything handwritten has become a thing of the past, but it also serves as a reminder of the appointment.

If they can’t meet, but have agreed to review your information, collect all of their pertinent information before getting off the phone and be sure to follow-up within 2-3 business days. Don’t let a cold call that became a warm call, become cold again.

Some additional follow-up tools to help you stay top-of-mind can include:

  • Newsletters that feature information relevant to the prospect and their industry
  • Special offers and promotions that are time sensitive
  • Events and trade show invitations
  • Holiday cards

When you follow each of these steps, your cold calls will tend to go more smoothly and result in more appointments. With the right approach, cold calling can serve as an effective door opener.

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