If you’re starting your own business with little or no sales experience, then you’re quite possibly dreading the prospect of cold calling potential clients/sponsors. Welcome to the same boat I was in more than eight years ago! I’m definitely not the boss at being a salesperson but thought I’d share what really helped me out.
Cold calling must be one of the most difficult jobs to do but it’s a necessary evil to get hold of the right people in a company. Also, like most things you’ll naturally improve at sales over time, but if you really despise it perhaps consider a business partner who has strengths in talking to people.
Be positive about your product
It’s sounds so simple but for me this was really eye opening. I was cold calling a lot of business trying to get sponsorship for my zine, and getting pretty disheartened as I wasn’t getting many leads. I was complaining to a friend that it’s like I was just going through a script that I know will end with someone definitely hanging up on me. Then they got me to re-enact a call with them. I quickly realised I was using a lot of negative connotations about my product: saying things like “You’ve probably never heard of us because we are small” or “We haven’t been around for long.” Instead I started to say “We are a new music zine” and “We are a niche publication”. Role-playing with a friend to get feedback can be really helpful.
The soft sell
Over the phone or via email, all you should do is introduce yourself and the product, and perhaps send them some more information. After that, follow up to see if they liked what you showed them and if they would be interested in going for a meeting. At the meeting you can show them products and a rate card. If you take it in small steps you're much more likely to make progress than a hard sell on the first phone call.
Some of my best sales happened after meeting and contacting someone for 3-6 months. Selling to someone you know is much more time efficient too. Don’t overdo the contact as they may stop replying. It’s a fine balancing act.
Keep it short
People are busy and they may just not be the right client for you. So you could be wasting both of your time. Best to keep things brief and move on to the next prospective client
Smile when you talk on the phone
It sounds lame... but I swear people can hear a smile on the phone!