These five tips will help you establish a human connection with prospective customers, which can result in more sales leads and long-term customer relationships.

A cold call is a direct way of introducing yourself and your company to people who need your products or services. Make cold calling work for you by conducting the right type of preparation and improving your cold call skills.

1. Establish the Right Mindset

In the past, cold calling was often seen as a way to quickly trick prospects into purchasing something they neither wanted nor needed. If that’s how you view cold calling, you need to update your outlook for the 21st century. Today, sales people focus on identifying and meeting customer needs, and they know a cold call is only the first step.

2. Eliminate Anxiety

Calling someone you don’t know can cause anxiety. You know when someone you talk to is nervous –they trip over their words and usually end up taking much too long to make a point. When you make cold calls, avoid experiencing those same problems by preparing sales scripts.

There is controversy over whether sales scripts are good tools. Usually, people who don’t like sales scripts have never seen them used properly. The real purpose for a sales script is to force you to think through what you want to say; once you have a sales script you’re comfortable with, you can use it as a jumping-off point, rather than following it word for word, regardless of how the conversation unfolds.

Practice your call before you dial the first number. You might also want to record yourself so you can replay your introduction to ensure you’re confident without being overwhelming. Develop an effective tone of voice that will allow you open a dialogue, and make sure to use people’s names effectively.

3. Create an Environment Friendly to Making Cold Calls

Once you’re ready to start contacting sales leads, take the time to create a supportive environment. For example,

  • Don’t multi-task. No one likes talking to someone who’s distracted. Apart from causing those frustrating pauses, distraction can make it appear like you don’t truly care. Maintaining focus is even more important when you’re speaking to someone for the first time.
  • Use a mirror. Until you’re skilled at putting a smile in your voice, look into a mirror while making calls to remind yourself that you’re talking to another human being, not a sales lead. Try it while you’re recording practice calls: Smile for part of your conversation, and listen to the difference it makes in your delivery.
  • Use the right tools. Set up your work area to support an upbeat, enthusiastic mood, and invest in a good-quality headset. You’ll avoid shoulder and neck fatigue while leaving your hands free to take notes or find needed information.

4. Prepare for Leaving Voicemail

It would be wonderful if a human being answered the telephone every time you made a call, but that expectation is not realistic. When you leave a voicemail, remember that it’s your opportunity to capture your prospects’ interest, which may motivate them to take your next call.

Decide on a structure for leaving a voicemail that’s short, but not rushed. In the message, introduce yourself, briefly describe the value you can offer, leave contact information, and make sure you’re smiling!

5. Schedule Breaks

Don’t turn your cold calling into an exhausting marathon. Take a five-minute break after each half-hour to get up, stretch and clear your mind. It’s also a good time to congratulate yourself on the progress you’re making in sales lead generation.

All things being equal, people will do business with, and refer business to, those people they know, like, and trust. Bob Burg

Done well, cold calling will be your gateway to becoming one of those people.