Here are some tips to improve your cold calling efforts:

Give ‘em a grade

Divide your prospect list into A, B and C leads. The A’s are the “hot leads” — ones most likely to buy — while the C’s are the least likely. Work on your A leads first (unless you’re new to introductory calling). If you’re new, work on your C’s.

It will be a low-pressure activity and give you a chance to practice. Once you’re comfortable with the process, begin working on your A’s. On average, it takes as much time to reach and then close on a C lead as it does an A lead. Spend your time in the most effective way possible.

Get real

When you’re creating your script, make sure to write out your script the way you actually speak. If your script isn’t written in the manner you speak, you’ll sound phony.

Real people don’t speak with a capital letter at the beginning of a sentence and a period at the end. People tend to speak in phrases or fragments with pauses and sometimes improper grammar or the occasional “ah” or “um.” If you’re having a difficult time writing your script in the way that you speak, try talking into a tape recorder. Then play it back and write down what you’ve said.

Rehearse

To become totally comfortable, rehearse your script. Practice it out loud. Call your own voicemail and record yourself so you can hear how you sound.

Role-play with your friends and colleagues. Do everything you can to prepare before you even think of picking up the phone.

Cold calling is a skill that takes some time to perfect. As you become more comfortable with this activity, you’ll be able to refine your approach and win more sales.

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