Rather than agonizing over what to say and do during a call, focus on what not to do. Here are five things you should never do when cold calling.

The term “cold calling” just carries a negative connotation, doesn’t it? We call someone “cold” if they lack emotions or the ability to connect. When you have to give up a bad habit, you go “cold turkey.” Yet cold calling is the most heavily relied on tool for salespeople yesterday, today and tomorrow.

As humans, we’re quick to judge and dismiss, so the act of cold calling really is an art, as every single word needs to be perfectly formulated to get your message across in an extremely short period of time. And as much as you’d like to plan out every single word, life isn’t a movie, and the scripts are constantly changing.

The best cold calls are warm calls and flow like real life conversations. As the salesperson, you need to be confident, educated on what you’re selling and ready to answer any questions, all while keeping a high level of social acumen.

Rather than agonizing over what to say and do during a call, focus on what not to do. Here are five things you should never do when cold calling.

1. Starting with the wrong opener 

They say when you meet someone, you have a 7-second window to make a first impression. On the phone, it’s even shorter because there’s no visual imagery for the person to take in and interpret, so your words and tone carry weight.

And what’s worse is everybody’s favorite word is “no.”

Sure, no can work both ways for you depending on the question, but it’s a negative word. Keep the entire conversation positive and strive for “yes” answers.

On top of keeping the conversation positive, your potential client will want to subconsciously feel as though you care. The simplest way to open any cold call is: “How are you?”

Keep it simple and casual. Get your future client comfortable, and show some social aptitude.

2. Not explaining why you called

This is the reason you’re calling. Don’t keep it a secret. By not clearly stating to your potential client your reason for the call, you come off as not being transparent or honest.

Once the client has that notion, it’s always there. Instead, after introducing yourself and asking how your client is doing, explain clearly and concisely why you’re calling.

You don’t need to say more than a sentence or two though, as any more will come off as a pitch, and then you’re losing them because of that too.

3. Ignoring what your client says

You have a script all written out with the points you’re trying to make. You’ve outlined from A to Z exactly how this conversation will go. You’re imagining a long-term relationship from strangers on the phone to closing on their home.

But what actually happens is you absolutely ignore the feedback and answers your potential client gives you to every question you ask.

Now it’s like they’re talking to an automated call service and not a real human with emotions on the other end.

Your script is a skeleton, nothing more. You strive to hit your points and fill the rest with real human interactions and dialogue.

You want your subjects to feel like they’re having a conversation with an old friend who called them out of the blue, not like they’re dying to get off the phone with you the minute there’s a brief moment of silence.

4. Rushing to get off the phone

It happens. You’re nervous. You’re talking to someone you don’t know, who’s giving you little energy back. You might even be having a bad day. All you’re thinking about is getting off the phone as fast as you can. And best of all, your potential client senses it.

When they sense that, they’ll even help you and end the call for you. Show your subject that you are engaged in the conversation.

Give them every reason to want to be talking to you and not going back to doing whatever they were moments ago, before you interrupted their day. Bring value and energy to the conversation.

5. Not firmly setting the next appointment

The ball must always be in your court. The moment you leave it on your potential client to set the next appointment, you’ve lost them as a client.

Before ending each phone call, don’t leave it open-ended when you’ll be speaking next. Use definitive terms, with a time and a date.

If it’s far out in the future, give them an arbitrary exact date. They might not even remember it, but the appointment is set. There’s a sense of seriousness to the conversation and a feeling that it wasn’t all for nothing.

Cold calling is hard, and it never will be easy, no matter what technology or advances are made in the business industry.

At the end of the day, social skills and the ability to connect with people will forever be the most important assets a salesperson can have. The art of a cold call is nothing more than technically being yourself and showing interest in what you do.

Mike Jeneralczuk is a licensed real estate salesperson with REAL New York. Connect with him on LinkedIn

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