Cold call prospecting may not be one of the best ways to generate leads or to make appointments with prospects, however, it beats sitting around the office waiting for the phone to ring and it can help you learn some valuable sales skills.

When I started in sales as a real estate agent in 1982, I spent the first six months part time cold call prospecting every night for two hours. I also used others methods of generating leads such as open houses, taking incoming calls, working my sphere of influence and numerous other methods.

The cold call prospecting I did every night generated some immediate and future business, however, the biggest benefits I received were how to build rapport, make appointments, handle objections and handle rejection.

Build Rapport

I learned very early what every good salesperson knows. Before someone will buy from you they have to like and trust you. The easiest way to get someone to like you and trust you is to understand how to build rapport quickly. So how do you establish rapport?

I let the prospect know quickly, the reason for my call. I left out the phrase "How are you today"? It can be interpreted as being insincere. I only stated my name, my company name and how I could help the prospect.

I listened for information I could use to get them talking about themselves and build some common ground. I showed a genuine concern for the prospect, and soon they began to open up and reveal personal information such as hobbies, children, vacation spots and lots of other tidbits I could build on.

When the prospect answered the phone, I made sure I was upbeat and didn't sound like I had just lost my best friend. I tried to use humor during the conversation. People love to laugh. I talked at the same rate, pitch and volume as the prospect. If they talk fast, then I talked fast. If they talk softly, then I would do the same.

Make Appointments

When I was cold call prospecting, I always worked from a script, a simple script a nine year old could understand. I memorized it so I could recite it on a moments notice. However, I kept it in front of me at all times during the call. If I got thrown off the track, the script was there to bring me back. As I made more calls, my script evolved, and so it changed as I learned better ways to get my point across.

The script was direct and to the point. I stated my name, company name and my unique selling proposition. It contained most of the questions I wanted to ask a prospect to determine their need for what I was selling. The script was a road map I followed for every call.

I knew my desired outcome when cold call prospecting was to make the appointment. I learned to ask questions that would qualify or disqualify them as a potential appointment. If I had a qualified prospect, I directed all my energies towards making that appointment. I never tried to sell them over the phone. If I found the prospect didn't have a need for my services, I quickly got off the phone, and on to the next call.

Handle Objections

While making the thousands of calls I made those first six months, you can imagine I got lots of objections. An objection is really the prospect stating their need for more information. If the prospect didn't want or need what I was selling, they would have told me, hung up on me or thrown me out. As long as they were coming up with objections, I still had a chance to get the appointment. I would give them the information they were looking for and close for the appointment.

If I came across an objection I couldn't overcome, after the call I would seek a more experienced agent and ask them how to handle it. I added that to my script and went on to the next call. This process continued until I was a master at handling objections, and my closing ratio for appointments increased dramatically.

Handle Rejection

The first fews weeks of cold call prospecting, I felt alot of rejection. People were mean, they hung up on me, slammed doors in my face or just didn't have any interest. Then I learned a very important lesson. They weren't actually rejecting me, they were rejecting my offer.

So I worked on strengthening my unique selling proposition, practiced the delivery of my script and how to handle the objections I was getting. In time fewer people rejected my offer and I realized the ones who did weren't good prospects any way. I stopped taking it personally and moved on to the next call, knowing with each call, I was closer to making my next appointment.

Cold call prospecting may not be the most effective way to make appointments, however, I realized it could be a valuable tool for increasing my skills, and it sure beat doing nothing at all.

Author's Bio: 

Jim Klein provides salespeople with effective strategies to increase their business while working less, guaranteed. Get free sales training by subscribing to our free newsletter "The Sales Advisor".