Proven Methods to Build Rapport During Cold Calls

Businessman getting a phone call from an angry person shouting down the line.
Businessman getting a phone call from an angry person shouting down the line.

Cold calling – the infamous first contact dreaded by many marketers. You’re calling strangers, perhaps interrupting them in something, and you’re bracing yourself for unpleasant reactions. Cold calls are definitely not everyone’s cup of tea, and it does take some work to get them right. But they don’t have to be the scary side of marketing.

Cold calling can be an incredibly effective marketing tool, but since you’re contacting your audience directly, you’ll need a good strategy to get results.

Whether it’s a phone call or a face-to-face contact, it’s all in the approach. Change your perception of cold calling, change your attitude, and focus on making a good first impression.  

The bottom line is – if they think what you have to say will be relevant to their world and not a waste of their time, they’ll be willing to hear what you have to say. What follows are some strategies you can try to make your cold calls a bit less cold.

Prep time before cold calls

Take time to mentally prepare for the call before making it, just like rehearsing for a role for a play. Get in the sales mood, adjust your voice, and gather your composure. You can’t make a successful cold call if you’re anxious or self-conscious. These things will show in your voice and you’ll sound strained and insecure. You must be in control and command the call.

To rate the quality of your presentation, role play and record your speech. Play the recording back and try to critically ascertain how good it is. Do you sound natural and self-assured? Would you talk to the person in the recording?

Remember, you are not trying to sell anything. Rather, you are trying to share relevant information to garnish enough interest to set up an introductory meeting.

Make sure you’re not disturbing

It’s a safe assumption you’ll be interrupting something with your call and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean your prospect cannot set aside a couple of minutes to hear what you have to say…if you play your cards right. Making sure you’re not interfering in anything important is a good way to build rapport.

The best way to start your conversation is to introduce yourself, the name of your company and the space you play in. Then, let them know that you need literally less than a minute and ask them if you can quickly tell them what this is about. With this approach you’ve identified yourself, you’ve established that what this is about will be relevant to them and you’ve used your manners by asking for permission to continue. Most people are willing to spare a minute when they know, at least at a high level, the discussion could potentially be of value.

Make sure you're not disturbing your potential customers when making cold calls

Presentation matters big time

It may sound superficial, but we do judge books by their covers, at least to a certain extent. It’s a deeply ingrained form of social conditioning. In a business setting, how you look, act and communicate matters even more.

As motivational speakers often say, like attracts like, and things will go much smoother if there’s a connection between you and your prospect. To establish rapport, try to mirror their tone of voice and emotions. In a sense, attempt to match their mood.

This is important because if you, for example, sound overly excited and they are not, it will give the impression of a classical salesperson’s approach and undermine your success.  

Try to sound confident and knowledgeable, but also warm and friendly. Don’t use more words than you need to. Avoid lengthy sentences and empty phrases. Never talk about how great your offering is. Remember, you are not selling a car. You are not selling anything. You are presenting the facts and letting the prospect decide if it’s something they would like to learn more about.

Pay attention to your voice

In cold calls, your voice can be your best ally. It can also kill the deal. Unlike face-to-face interaction, where you can rely on your well-groomed appearance, a reassuring smile or body language to impress your prospect, in a telephone call, your voice, pitch, choice of words and enunciation become paramount.

There isn’t much you can do about the actual sound or color of your voice, and it’s not like you can go from being a tenor to a bass for the purpose of cold calls. But you can make an effort to sound more pleasant, assured and convincing. If you giggle, gasp loudly for air or talk incessantly, you’ll be perceived as annoying.

Remember, on the phone, you can’t compensate for the lack of eloquence or persuasiveness by dressing attractively or smiling. That said, smiling on a cold call certainly comes through even on the phone.

Behave like a human being, not a sales drone

Don’t forget there is an actual person at the other end of the line. So instead of just reciting verbatim what you know about your product, take the time to engage the person in a real conversation. You may need to improvise a bit and divert from your sales script. But in the end, a sincere, relaxed approach will probably be more effective than a stiff presentation of facts. To facilitate this, memorize the pitch and then edit it so it sounds like you.

In essence, it’s sometimes better to wing it than come across as boring by playing exactly by the book. Just be careful not to overdo it. Aim for amiable, not overly familiar.

Smiling young businessman with laptop talking on mobile phone

Master the art of active listening

By definition, active listening means listening attentively and responding to the person in a way that promotes mutual understanding.

Rather than trying to dominate the conversation, concentrate on what is being said and make sure to write down important points of the conversation. If you need to ask something, first allow the other person to finish their thought. When it comes to cold calling etiquette, jumping into people’s sentences is an urge you must suppress at all times.  

The same applies to arguing and criticizing. The customer is always right, and so is the prospective customer.

Whenever possible, avoid close-ended questions (requiring short or yes/no answers), as they don’t encourage people to elaborate on a topic or give their opinions. Plus, you’re dominating the conversation and it can feel like you’re interrogating the person.

Instead, ask open-ended questions that require more contemplation and provide more relevant information, thus transferring the control over to your prospect.

At DemandZEN, we take the cold out of cold calls. You can rely on us to reach the right people, convey your business message effectively, and dramatically increase your sales pipeline.

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