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BusinessColumnistsJamie Herzlich

Tips to help entrepreneurs to warm up to cold calling

If you're like many entrepreneurs, you absolutely dread the thought of cold calling.

That's because many of them end in resistance or rejection.

If you want to warm up your cold calls, then you need to take a more targeted approach to your overall cold calling campaign and avoid some of the more common mistakes, including not knowing enough about your prospects, say experts.

"You should never ever place a 'cold call' . . . calling someone that you know absolutely nothing about," says Art Sobczak, author of "Smart Calling: Eliminate the Fear, Failure and Rejection from Cold Calling" (Wiley, $21.95) and president of in Omaha. "Buyers today are too sophisticated and they expect you to have done your homework."

The more intelligence you can gain on your prospect, the better able you'll be to make some connection or find some common ground, he says.

One of the worst mistakes is asking a prospect what their company does, he notes.

Other fatal errors:

Taking rejection personally: No one likes hearing "no," but that just comes with the territory. Instead of feeling rejected, look to accomplish some secondary objective (i.e., keeping the door open for a future contact), suggests Sobczak.

Not ritualizing your calling: You'll only get better at cold calling if you keep doing it consistently, says Sobczak, who offers more tips at

.pdf. Dedicate time to making cold calls.

Making the call all about you: Cold calling is successful when it's all about the prospect and fails when it's all about you, says Sam Richter, author of "Take the Cold Out of Cold Calling" (Adams Business & Professional, $34.95) and chief marketing officer at ActiFi, a Plymouth, Minn., software solutions company. Don't start the call rambling about you and your company, Richter says. Rather, understand their needs and bring something of value to the table, he adds.

Not asking good questions: Cold callers often make assumptions and state things as facts during their pitch, Richter says. It's better to ask questions that you're pretty sure will solicit a "yes" answer, he suggests. For instance, if calling a banker, you might say: "I recently saw a study that said that banks that really understand their customers can potentially increase profits by 20 percent. Would your bank be interested in learning how to increase profits by 20 percent?"

Making small talk: No one has time for small talk, says sales coach Keith Rosen, author of "Coaching Salespeople Into Sales Champions" (Wiley, $29.95) and chief executive of in Merrick. Skip the idle chatter and instead give them a reason to listen to you (i.e., we just worked with three other companies in your area to help them increase sales by 40 percent), he says.

Leaving the wrong voice-mail message: Don't waste words. Leave a voice-mail message that will prompt a call back (i.e., I was just speaking to another company in your area that we were able to save $20,000 in monthly expenses and wanted to see if we can do the same for you), says Rosen, who offers more tips at article_coldcalling.htm.

Sounding too much like a salesperson: The more "salesy" you sound, the less interested your prospect will be, says Rob Fishman, a partner at Sandler Training in Hauppauge, a sales training/consulting firm. Don't hit them with a hard sell; instead, ask good questions to find out if there's a good reason for you to work together, he says.

Lacking confidence: Don't be apologetic about cold calling. "A person that's successful in cold calling is someone who has complete confidence they can help the companies they are contacting," Fishman says.

When cold calling, it helps to know more about your prospect. Consider these search sites:

Source: Sam Richter

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