If you’re like me, the phrase “cold call” sends chills down your spine. There’s nothing scarier than the thought of having to call a complete stranger to try to sell my wares. But there are ways that you can be better at this skill. Read on.

1. Acknowledge Your Fears

If you weren’t afraid of the cold call, you wouldn’t be reading this. So embrace it. Identify what exactly you fear will happen. Is it that you might irritate or enrage the person on the other end? That they might reject you? Determining the worst possible scenario can help you embrace your fears and move on.

2. Build Your Philosophy

Set your goal for the call. It most likely won’t be getting the person you’re calling to hand over their credit card details, so maybe it’s setting up an appointment, or getting them to register on your website. Make it a simple and easy goal. The big sell can come later.

You also have to have the attitude that the worst thing that can happen is the person tells you no. That’s not the end of the world, is it? Prepare what you’ll say to exit the call gracefully in that case.

3. Practice What You’ll Say

It may seem stilted to practice your dialogue over and over, but it can actually help you feel more confident after you’ve gone through different scenarios. Avoid sounding like you’re reading from a script. Keep it natural.

We’ve all gotten this call:

“Hello, Susan. My name is Cynthia and I’m calling from CallAmerica. How are you doing today?”

(Immediately I’m suspicious and my guard goes up.)

Try something more disarming, like this.

“Hi Susan, my name is Cynthia. Do you have a moment?”

She didn’t necessarily identify the company she’s with (which usually does me no good, as I have to ask again where she’s calling from once I forget), and I’m more likely to be honest and say yes, I have just a moment. What can I help her with? Here’s a good cold calling script template.

4. Do Your Research

You should always, always know who you’re calling, and what the company does. If possible, look deep to figure out any obvious pain points that your product or service might be able to help with. For example, if you find out a company on your list just bought another company, they might be in the mode to buy some new office equipment. The more you know, the more impressed your contact will be that you did your homework.

5. ONLY Call Relevant Leads!

There is nothing worse than getting a call from someone trying to sell me a corporate copier. I work out of my home. I am a staff of 1.75. I certainly am not in the market for a $5,000 copier. When I get calls like that, I feel they are a waste of my time, and I am irritated. Don’t waste people’s time pitching them the wrong products.

It’s better to spend 10 minutes online researching your prospect to see if they even are a good prospect, than to waste two minutes of that person’s time only to find out they aren’t your target.

6. Don’t Forget About Email!

One thing I as the recipient of a cold call melt to is a followup email. It’s much easier for me to say no via email, but I find that sometimes I don’t want to. So if you’re getting a no or your contact is trying to get you off of the phone, ask if you can send more information for her to review via email. That way, you now have another way to contact her.

Send a customized email with links to what you want to show her. Thank her for her time on the phone. Then follow up via email a week later to see if she’s interested. You might turn what would have been a dead end on the phone into a sale after all.

As they say, practice makes perfect. Once you get a few successful cold calls under your belt, you’ll find it easier to call a stranger. Good luck!

What tips do you have for making a successful cold call? Please share them in the comments below!