Cultural Differences in Cold-Calling Techniques

July 19, 2016 Eli Gavito

Cold Calling Techniques

 

Cold calling’s got a bad rap in Australia. A quick Google search will tell you as much: there’s an endless amount of online content out there bleating about the death of cold calling and how annoying/expensive/useless it is and what low success rates you’re bound to get. But what most of these articles fail to make clear is that there’s a significant difference between good and bad cold calling techniques. Because, in fact, cold calling – a human voice in this age of endless emails and impersonal electronic communication – could actually help your business gain valuable business connections. 

A common mistake with cold calling is not doing enough prep work: sure, you know (or should know!) the name, job title, business and general location of the person you’re calling, but do you know how to call them? How is cold calling regarded in other countries? What should be aware of before you dial? This guide will go through some general best-practice tips and then we’ll look at 8 of the top countries Australia does business with – New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States, Japan, China, Singapore, Indonesia and India – and give you more localised advice to consider before placing the call.

 

Don’t dial empty: 5 general tips for successful cold-calling

Cold Calling prep workNo matter where or why you are calling someone, here are some best-practice tips to keep in mind so you can make the most of these phone calls.

1. Learn your lines

Write a little script and, like any good actor, learn your lines. Begin with a few very brief sentences about who you are and why you’re calling, and practise them. It’s also a good idea to pre-empt some of the questions that your prospect might ask with some general answers that you can elaborate on. (This is mainly for those who might get a bit nervous on the phone; having some formulaic answers to use if you need them could help you calm those pre-call jitters.)

Practise your pacing, your tone and your overall delivery – you don’t want to sound like a robot, but you also don’t want to rush your speech. ‘Practise makes perfect,’ says that annoying old phrase we all know so well. So practise a comfortable, calm and confident manner – to a colleague, to your mom, alone in front of your bathroom mirror.

2. It’s not you; it’s them

After you make your short spiel, focus the rest of the chat on your prospect. Hear what they have to say: what are their concerns, needs and goals for their business? Only by truly listening can you find the best and most effective way to help them.

3. Don’t bite off more than you can chew

The aim of your initial call shouldn’t be to make a sale because people rarely buy on first contact. Use this first meeting to build a rapport and gather information about them and their business. For example, use your first phone call to learn their needs/pain points/objectives, answer what questions you can, make notes on any information you need to send afterwards and – don’t forget – get to know them a little. Find something that you have in common, which you can use to re-connect with them in your follow-up.

4. Take notes

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself trying to remember everything. Scribble things down as you’re listening – questions you may have, personal comments (like if there’s anything that doesn’t go smoothly) and notable personal information (for example, if your caller is about to go on holiday to Tahiti, jot that down, so you can ask about it when you follow up – it’s a nice little human touch.) 

These will also be a useful resource to look back on as you improve your cold calling techniques.

5. Stay honest, inquisitive and chill

It’s important not to lose sight of the fact that you’re probably interrupting the person you’re calling, and it’s okay for them to be a little bit annoyed by this fact. But if you remain calm and patient, speak to them like a human being and ask them engaging questions, you’ll be able to forge a valuable partnership.

Another handy resource to have: our time chart, so you can easily see what time it is where you’re calling. We recommend printing this out and taping it somewhere visible for quick and easy reference!

 

AUSTRALIA (AEST) 8:00 AM 1:00 PM 6:00 PM 8:00 PM
NEW ZEALAND 10:00 AM 3:00 PM 8:00 PM 10:00 PM
UNITED KINGDOM 11:00 PM yesterday 4:00 AM 9:00 AM 11:00 AM
UNITED STATES (PACIFIC) 3:00 PM yesterday 8:00 PM yesterday 1:00 AM 3:00 AM
UNITED STATES (MOUNTAIN) 4:00 AM yesterday 9:00 PM yesterday 2:00 AM 4:00 AM
UNITED STATES (CENTRAL) 5:00 PM yesterday 10:00 PM yesterday 3:00 AM 5:00 AM
UNITED STATES (EASTERN) 6:00 PM yesterday 11:00 PM yesterday 4:00 AM 6:00 AM
JAPAN 7:00 AM 12:00 PM 5:00 PM 7:00 PM
CHINA 6:00 AM 11:00 AM 4:00 PM 6:00 PM
SINGAPORE 6:00 AM 11:00 AM 4:00 PM 6:00 PM
INDONESIA (WESTERN) 5:00 AM 10:00 AM 3:00 PM 5:00 PM
INDONESIA (CENTRAL) 6:00 AM 11:00 AM 4:00 PM 6:00 PM
INDONESIA (EASTERN) 7:00 AM 12:00 PM 5:00 PM 7:00 PM
INDIA 3:30 AM 8:30 AM 1:30 PM 3:30 PM

 

Before Cold Calling New Zealand

  • Cold Calling tips for New ZealandBusiness etiquette in New Zealand is pretty similar to how things are done here in Australia – Kiwis appreciate an honest, direct approach (with facts and figures being used to back up an argument), so don’t pepper your sales pitch with sensational or hyperbolic language, and don’t try and oversell your product.  
  • Don’t attempt a high-pressure sales strategy or to rush an agreement – the negotiation process may take some time but it’s important to build that relationship and nurture their trust.

Ideal time to call: late morning

TIME ZONE CHART

AUSTRALIA (AEST) 8:00 AM 1:00 PM 6:00 PM 8:00 PM
NEW ZEALAND 10:00 AM 3:00 PM 8:00 PM 10:00 PM

Here are the public holidays to bear in mind (in addition to Christmas, Boxing Day and New Years):
 
Monday 24 October 2016 Labour Day
Monday 6 February 2017 Waitangi Day
Friday 14 April 2017 Good Friday
Monday 17 April 2017 Easter Monday
Tuesday 25 April 2017 ANZAC Day
Monday 5 June 2017 Queen’s Birthday
 

 

Before Cold Calling the United Kingdom

  • Cold Calling tips for the UKKnow the landscape: Britons receive about 4.8 billion nuisance calls, 1.5 billion live sales calls, 1.5 billion silent calls, 940 million recorded sales messages and 200 million abandoned calls every year, according to Ofcom; needless to say they’re generally pretty fed up with strangers ringing them up. So don’t be surprised if your caller’s a bit short with you at first – you never know, they could have been targeted by one of these fake companies in the past.
    • Familiarise yourself with their cold calling laws here

Because of the time difference, it’s best to call the UK in the evening (which will be morning/early afternoon over there). Just make sure it’s not too early; no one wants a call from a complete stranger first thing in the morning.

Ideal time to call: around 8 pm (11 am UK time)

TIME ZONE CHART

AUSTRALIA (AEST) 8:00 AM 1:00 PM 6:00 PM 8:00 PM
UNITED KINGDOM 11:00 PM yesterday 4:00 AM 9:00 AM 11:00 AM

 

 

 

Here are some key dates to keep in mind (including Christmas, Boxing Day and New Years):

Monday 29 August 2016 Bank holiday
Friday 14 April 2017 Good Friday
Monday 1 May 2017 Bank holiday
Monday 29 May 2017 Bank holiday

 

Before Cold Calling the United States:

  • Cold Calling tips for the USThe US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) controls the cold calling laws – read up on what’s allowed and what isn’t on their site here.
  • That being said, Americans are generally a chatty bunch – as a whole they’re more into the whole ‘small-talk-with-strangers’ thing, so once you find some common ground (perhaps you both have kids the same age, or like the same kind of food, or play the same sport), they’ll open up.

Cold calls can only occur between 8:00 am and 9:00 pm, and because there are so many different time zones, you need to look up the location of where you’re calling to determine what time zone they’re on. Shoot for the early morning, their afternoon (so you won’t interrupt dinner).

Ideal time to call: 7:00 am (2:00, 3:00, 4:00, 5:00 pm US time)

TIME ZONE CHART

AUSTRALIA (AEST)

8:00 am

1:00 pm

6:00 pm

UNITED STATES (PACIFIC)

3:00 pm yesterday

8:00 pm yesterday

1:00 am

UNITED STATES (MOUNTAIN)

4:00 pm yesterday

9:00 pm yesterday

2:00 am

UNITED STATES (CENTRAL)

5:00 pm yesterday

10:00 pm yesterday

3:00 am

UNITED STATES (EASTERN)

6:00 pm yesterday

11:00 pm yesterday

4:00 am

 

Americans have quite a few national holidays – including Christmas and New Years – so make sure you aren’t ringing them on a day when offices will be closed.

Monday 4 July 2016 Independence Day

Monday 5 September 2016

Labour Day

Friday 11 November 2016 Veterans Day

Thursday 24 November 2016

Thanksgiving

Monday 16 January 2017 Martin Luther King Day

Monday 20 February 2017

Presidents Day

Monday 29 May 2017 Memorial Day
 

 

Before Cold Calling Japan

  • Cold Calling tips for JapanWithin the Japanese language, there are many different kinds of honorifics (speech that displays respect) but as they will be able to tell you are a non-native speaker, it’s best to use polite language. Here are some helpful Japanese phrases to get you started:
    • hello: Kon’nichiwa
    • goodbye: Sayōnara
    • thanks a lot: Doumo arigatou
    • my name is ____: Watashi no namae wa ____ desu (listen for pronunciation here)
  • In general Japanese businesses prefer not to rush their operations, preferring results to occur naturally, so don’t try the hard-sell approach. Chances are, if you’re more direct in your sales technique, they will probably understand that you’re new to their corporate culture and therefore be a bit more lenient, but it’s still a good idea to remain respectful and aware that building a relationship with a Japanese business may take some time.

Because of Japan’s relative proximity to Australia, thankfully, there’s not much of a time difference to worry about.

Ideal time to call: afternoon

TIME ZONE CHART

AUSTRALIA (AEST) 8:00 am

1:00 pm

6:00 pm

JAPAN

7:00 am

12:00 pm 5:00 pm
 

The Japanese have many national holidays to celebrate and commemorate different facets of Japanese life – in addition to Christmas and New Years, here they are:

Monday 18 July 2016 Marine Day
Thursday 11 August 2016 Mountain Day
Monday 19 September 2016 Respect for the Aged Day
Thursday 22 September 2016 Autumnal Equinox Day
Monday 10 October 2016 Health-Sports Day
Thursday 3 November 2016 Culture Day
Wednesday 23 November 2016 Labour Thanksgiving Day
Friday 23 December 2016 The Emperor’s Birthday
Monday 9 January 2017 Coming-of-age Day
Saturday 11 February 2017 National Foundation Day
Monday 20 March 2017 Vernal Equinox Day
Saturday 29 April 2017 Showa Day
Wednesday 3 May 2017 Constitution Memorial Day
Thursday 4 May 2017 Greenery Day
Friday 5 May 2017 Childrens Day
 

 

Before Cold Calling China

  • Cold Calling tips for ChinaSurnames in China actually come before their first name, so if someone’s name is written as Zhang Mingyu, then you would refer to them as ‘Ms. Zhang.’ (Note: just calling someone by their surname is seen as incredibly informal, i.e. only use between close personal friends.)

If you’re unsure the gender of who you’re calling (although you should know it, if you’ve done proper prep work), a safe address is ‘zong’ (as in ‘Zhang zong’), which means manager or president, or ‘laoshi’ (as in ‘Zhang laoshi’), which means ‘teacher’ but can also be used to address an expert in a field or as a sign of respect when speaking to an elder.

  • Business in China operates on earned trust, so instead of trying to rush along a sale or partnership, be patient and take the time to build a solid relationship with the person.
  • In order to avoid causing offense, the Chinese might answer more indirectly than we’re used to, so keep in mind that in some situations, ‘yes’ can mean more like ‘maybe’ or ‘no’.

There’s not too much of a time difference to work around when calling China, but here’s the ideal time to call:

Ideal time to call: afternoon

TIME ZONE CHART

AUSTRALIA (AEST) 8:00 am

1:00 pm

6:00 pm

CHINA

6:00 am

11:00 am

4:00 pm


Here are some notable holidays to keep in mind:

>Thursday 15 – Friday 17 September 2016 Mid-Autumn Festival

Sunday 1 – Friday 7 October 2016

National Day

28 January – 2 February 2017

 

 

Spring Festival (Chinese New Year)
Wednesday 8 March 2017 International Women’s Day
Wednesday 5 April 2017 Ching Ming Festival
Monday 1 May 2017 Labour Day

Tuesday 30 May 2017

Dragon Boat Festival

 

 

Before Cold Calling Singapore

  • Cold Calling tips for SingaporeSingapore is a mixing pot with Chinese, Malay and Indian Singaporeans making almost the entire population. These groups all follow different customs and observe specific holidays, so you might want to look up who you’re calling to make sure you respect their faith.
  • Typical office hours in Singapore are between 8:30 am and 5:30 pm.
  • During the month of Ramadan, avoid calling in the late afternoon, as people are probably battling low energy levels and perhaps even difficulty concentration due to the fast.
  • It’s worth nothing that Singaporeans are not always direct speakers: they will often use phrases like ‘I’m not sure’ or ‘We’ll see’ to mean ‘no,’ so don’t push it or you’ll risk offense.

We are two hours’ ahead of Singapore:

 

Ideal time to call: 1:00 pm (11:00 am Singaporean time)

TIME ZONE CHART

AUSTRALIA (AEST) 8:00 am 1:00 pm 6:00 pm

SINGAPORE

6:00 am

11:00 am

4:00 pm

 

In addition to Christmas and New Years, keep in mind these Singaporean holidays:

 Wednesday 6 July 2016 Hari Raya Puasa
Tuesday 9 August 2016 National Day
Monday 12 September 2016 Hari Raya Haji
Saturday 29 October 2016 Deepavali
Saturday & Sunday 28-29 January 2017

 

(Monday 30 January 2017 is a public holiday)

Chinese New Year
Monday 1 May 2017 Labour Day
10 May 2017 Vesak Day
 

 

Before Cold Calling Indonesia

  • Cold Calling tips for IndonesiaIndonesians are not the let’s-get-down-to-business types. They prefer to build the professional relationship slowly, so be patient when negotiating. In fact your first call will probably turn out to be more of a getting-to-know-you session rather than a sales pitch.
  • ‘Tomorrow’ can also mean ‘at some point in the future.’
  • Avoid conflict and speak on the quieter side: Indonesians are very non-confrontational, and speaking loudly will come across as aggression.
  • It will be pretty obvious to any Indonesian that you are a foreigner, therefore polite English is accepted. However, here are a few simple phrases you can try out to show respect:
    • Hello: Halo
    • Thank you: Terima kasih
    • Good morning: Selamat pagi (use before 10 am)
    • Good morning: Selamat siang (use between 11 am - 3 pm)
    • Good afternoon: Selamat sore
    • Good evening: Selamat malam
    • For help with pronunciation, watch this
  • If you settle on a deal or give concessions too quickly in a negotiation, this will be seen as gullibility – Indonesians love a bargain.

 

Ideal time to call: afternoon/early evening

TIME ZONE CHART

AUSTRALIA (AEST) 8:00 am

1:00 pm

6:00 pm

INDONESIA WESTERN TIME

5:00 am

10:00 am

3:00 pm

INDONESIA CENTRAL TIME

6:00 am

11:00 am

4:00 pm

INDONESIA EASTERN TIME

7:00 am

12:00 pm

5:00 pm

 

Including Christmas and New Years, here’s a list of Indonesian holidays to keep in mind before you dial: 

Monday 4 July 2016 Cuti Bersama
Tuesday 5 July 2016 Cuti Bersama
Wednesday 6 July 2016 Hari Raya Puasa (end of Ramadan)
Thursday 7 July 2016 Hari Raya Puasa (end of Ramadan)
Friday 8 July 2016 Cuti Bersama
Wednesday 17 August 2016 Independence Day
Saturday 12 September 2016 Idul Adha

Sunday 2 October 2016

Muharram (Islamic New Year)

Monday 12 December 2016

Maulidur Rasul

Monday 26 December 2016 Cuti Bersama
Saturday  28 January 2017 Chinese New Year
Tuesday 28 March 2017 Hari Raya Nyepi (Balinese New Year)
Friday 14 April 2017 Good Friday
Monday 24 April 2017 Isra Miraj
Monday 1 May 2017 Labour Day
Thursday 11 May 2017 Waisak Day
Thursday 25 May 2017 Ascension Day
Thursday 1 June 2017 Pancasila Day
 

 

Before Cold Calling India

  • Cold Calling tips for IndiaThe Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has been tightening cold calling regulations since 2013 – familiarise yourself with the latest legislation here.
  • That being said, Indians generally prefer to do business with someone they have a connection to. If at all possible, try to seek out a mutual connection on LinkedIn or elsewhere who can give you a way in. If not, spend some time nurturing the relationship before you start negotiating a partnership.

Ideal time to call: late afternoon

TIME ZONE CHART

AUSTRALIA (AEST) 8:00 am 1:00 pm 6:00 pm 8:00 pm

INDIA

3:30 am

8:30 am

1:30 pm

3:30 pm

 

India has many regional holidays (familiarise yourself with them here) but here are the three national holidays celebrated throughout the country:

 

Monday 15 August 2016 Independence Day
Sunday 2 October 2016 Mahatma Gandhi’s Birthday
Thursday 26 January 2017 Republic Day
 

 

Further reading

http://www.ausbt.com.au/five-tips-for-doing-business-in-singapore

http://www.hanbridgemandarin.com/article/business-chinese-learning-tips/chinese-business-etiquette/

http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/national/the-most-common-mistakes-aussies-make-doing-business-with-foreign-cultures/news-story/667dc15741f3816890d6f51363008c92

http://www.businessinsider.com.au/an-etiquette-expert-shares-the-2-biggest-mistakes-foreigners-make-when-doing-business-in-china-2016-5

http://www.venturejapan.com/business-in-japan-2.htm

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/companies-making-cold-calls-uk-withheld-numbers-face-2m-fine-1556478

https://www.worldnomads.com/travel-safety/southeast-asia/indonesia/indonesia-etiquette-how-you-can-avoid-causing-offence

http://www.commisceo-global.com/country-guides/indonesia-guide

http://www.trai.gov.in/content/VerReg/138_0_3.aspx

 

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