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Warming Up...
To Cold Calls

by Craig Harrison
Appearing in the Fall, 2001
edition of
HSMAI's Magazine

In light of recent economic and political events we must become more proactive. If clients and prospects won't call on us it's time we call on them.

Cold calling, the art of calling on a stranger by phone or in person, may seem strange, scary or slippery to some. In point of fact, it is a proven, accepted and most effective way to attract new business.  It's time we take the chill Out of Cold Calls!

Cold Calls Defined

The term cold call derives from the fact that you are calling or calling on another party cold.  Your call comes out of the blue.  They don't know you and you probably don't know them.  If you did, or if someone referred you in common, it would be considered a warm call. 

Rather than see yourself as a salesperson interrupting a decision maker to push your hotel's services on them, see yourself as a solution provider who knows what he or she is calling to offer can solve the listener's problems, make their life easier and help them succeed.  Your mental outlook is key to success.

Be prepared!

By knowing the services you are touting, your rates and option packages in advance, you sound more polished, professional and knowledgeable.  It's easier to sound confident when you know your own product or service line.  Such mastery of your own offerings frees you up to focus more on the person you are calling too.

Establish a Productive Work Environment

Before you make your first call, get organized.  If you are using the phone, clear off your work area so you have everything you need to succeed: calendar, note pad, fact sheets, your answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs), and whatever else will help you succeed. We call this your cold calling tool kit.

When using the phone it's recommended you include a mirror you can glance at periodically while speaking.  Are you smiling? The mirror can confirm whether or not you are. You should be!  Smiling relaxes you and helps you sound friendlier on the phone. 

For face-to-face cold calls make sure you are well groomed and your materials are organized.  You are conveying an image as well as needing to be productive in your limited time with the client. Don't forget your business cards!

Become a Script Writer!

While nobody likes a canned presentation, you can benefit from creating s script for yourself to ad lib from.  Writing a script helps you organize and prioritize the points you wish to make.  Even though you won't read it verbatim over the phone, nor recite it word for word in person, the script gives you structure and an ability to rehearse consistently before you make your official call.

Work on speaking conversationally, using shorter sentences that flow off of your tongue easily.  Remember, sentences that work when read may be cumbersome when spoken. Script your remarks to be conversational.  Here's a tip: when you feel your script is ready, call your own voice mail and pitch yourself. Then listen back to hear how confident you sound, which words flow from your tongue and which stick in your throat.  Now tweak your script accordingly,

Speak the Language of Benefits

Remember to emphasize the benefits of using your services, rather than just the features.  For instance, a feature might be the closeness of your hotel to the freeway, downtown and the airport. The benefit is convenience and time saved, which translates into money saved.  If you don't tell the listener they have to figure it out for themselves. Save them the trouble.  Many salespeople lead off their sentence with the benefit, and then explain the features that lead to it.

If your facility or firm has unique qualities make sure to say so.  Emphasize your competitive advantages!  Show them what you have that others don't, and how that benefits them.

Recognize the Power of Questions

Rather than overwhelm your listener with facts and details, use open-ended questions to learn more about their needs, how they've been doing business, and what matters most to them. Open-ended questions begin with words such as How….? Why…?  What…?  Describe…? or Explain…?  They lead to more detailed answers than closed ended questions that are answered with "yes" or "no."

Having asked open-ended questions, don't forget to listen.  Take notes, summarize or recap to insure you understood, and build rapport by listening empathically.  The information you glean can help you formulate the right approach to make the sale.

Objections Offer Insights

Don't be discouraged by objections voiced by your listener.  They actually offer insight into the issues most troubling your listener.  When objections arise, seek to understand them and then work to dispel them.  Rather than disagree or argue, find ways to assuage their fears, quell their concerns and bolster their confidence by demonstrating solutions you can provide.

It's Closing Time

As you build rapport, answer their questions and overcome their objections you are moving toward the sale.  You may need a face-to-face or to speak to others in the decision making process first but always be attuned to opportunities to make the sale.

It's a Numbers Game

By its very nature cold calling requires many more calls to get fewer sales. This is universal.  Don't be discouraged.  There are a variety of reasons you may not make the sale the first time you call.  Persevere!  A 20% success rate is considered fantastic. 5% is common.  You mustn't take rejection personally.  Make your calls, track them diligently, and continue to build relationships with all you speak with.  Remain upbeat and success will be yours.

Over the years I have sold every thing from jewelry to joke books to biscuits in a basket and the key has been my attitude. Keep on calling, smiling and selling.

© Copyright 2001 Craig Harrison. All Rights Reserved.

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