5 Cold Calling Mistakes that Irk Sales Prospects

I used to think sales reps get a bad rap – at least until I attended a Saturday morning Rotary Club Pancake Breakfast (yes they still have those) and overheard a group of business owners talking about how much they hate telemarketers.

Now, I don’t know what prompted them to talk about this at 8:30 on a Saturday morning. You’d think they’d want to talk about something else, like the Broncos losing both our quarterbacks.

But, no, this group of business owners were intensely discussing how much they hate sales cold calls and how they instantly recognize them. As I listened, I realized that they weren’t talking about telemarketers only, but sales people in general.

And, the five mistakes they shared are ones that are easily avoided:

1. Mispronounce the prospect’s name. Yes, it’s tough to get names right every time in a global economy – but it’s essential. An Israeli prospect of mine recently commented that she’s always surprised when people can’t say her name correctly because it’s so common in Israel. When in doubt, call ahead and find out how to pronounce unusual names.

2. Call at inconvenient times. You’ve heard that you can usually reach prospects before and after work or during lunch. While these are excellent times to reach them, they’re also inconvenient for prospects. If your prospect is impatient, be sensitive to that and close for a more convenient time to talk. Don’t try to keep them on the phone.

3. Swear. I admit I was shocked to hear of a sales rep cursing in a cold call. Based on the story he shared, the prospect was being rude – but that doesn’t justify swearing. Bite your tongue, then offer to call irritated prospects back at a more convenient time and get off the phone. Then avoid the urge to post your experience on social media!

4. Handle objections 8 different ways. When you hear an objection, that’s your cue to ask questions. Do some requirements gathering to better understand the situation behind the objection. This can lead to quality conversations and help you determine if you want an appointment. Resist the urge to respond with memorized statements – that will end your conversation before it’s started.

5. Don’t deviate from the cold call script. Your call shouldn’t sound scripted, as if you’re reading. Instead, know your opening, the value of talking to you, and the first few questions you want to ask. This way, wherever the prospect takes the conversation, you can have a memorable, positive discussion that leaves them interested in continuing your discussion.

Interestingly, the executives ended their conversation by saying that if sales people just listened to them, they’d be more open to taking their calls.

Sales reps get a bad rap, but you don’t have to emulate them. You can choose to create a different impression. When you do, you’ll see your prospecting appointment setting success rate soar.

kendra-leeKendra Lee is president of KLA Group, which works with companies to break in and exceed revenue objectives in the Small and Midmarket Business (SMB) segment. Read more blogs from Kendra here.

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