We can be hostile toward receiving them, and anxious about making them, yet cold calls are necessary.
Need to follow-up with journalists you haven’t developed relationships with yet? Recruit people to participate in a research project? Make contact with dream clients and partners? As a communicator, having highly effective phone communication skills is essential and highly useful.
When I started working in communications, I was tasked with calling more than 70 journalists to follow-up on media pitches. The project seemed daunting, especially after I placed my first handful and experienced less than pleasant receptions from busy news personnel. Since then, I’ve worked on many projects involving cold calling, and yes, I now even enjoy it.
Here are a few tips to help you or a businessperson you know warm up to cold calls:
Practice: The key tip for excelling in anything – practice – is extremely relevant to cold calling. Your first few calls may seem uncomfortable, but chances are you’ll become more comfortable as you continue. Don’t run from opportunities to take on cold calling. You’ll find that the positive interactions you have can fuel you through negative ones.
Establish relevance: You should have a good reason for calling someone; share it immediately. Be able to answer where you got the person’s information, why you are calling and why you want to speak with that person, specifically.
Show credibility: Can you reference a relevant person or organization the recipient of your call is familiar with, or a compelling piece of information about you or your company to help put the recipient of your call at ease?
Polish your message: You must communicate your message quickly. Zero in on the key information, and establish relevance and credibility immediately. On a phone call, people can hang up at any time. Give them a reason to listen.
Be Personable: Warmth, or lack thereof, can be communicated over the phone. Speak kindly and confidently. No one wants to deal with a robot reading an automated message. If you have a calling script, it’s best not to read from it verbatim. Take time to consider what you need to communicate, and be familiar enough with the message that you can communicate it in your own words.