I came across this question on SGSME website posted by Lynne (see image above). As a communications professional I was compelled to respond. And I thought probably many business owners also could be having the same issue. So here is my full response.
I am glad that you understand how your response to cold calls can affect your company's brand. As a business communication expert and author of Speak Smart Make Your Mark, I would like to offer some tips.
First, understand that they are just doing their job. Just like you, they want to bring in the sales too. So we need to empathise. There is no need to be rude to them. I always believe that we can say No in a positive way.
Once you realise it is a cold call, ask them to state their intentions quickly. Don't let them go into their sales script.
Acknowledging the good in their product/service (even if you don't have a need for it). eg. "I am sure your product is good at what it does."
Then tell them why you don't need their product/services. There is no need for lengthy explanations. You are not obliged to anyway, eg. "We don't have a need for it right now." or "It is not relevant to what we are doing"
Then wish them well. eg. "Hope you find the customer that is good for you. All the best" And end the call.
If they are pushy, just interrupt them and repeat politely. eg. "I have to interrupt. I don't have a need for your product. So I have to end this call. Wish you all the best."
They usually will say, "This will only take a minute."
Say, "It is not relevant to me, so I can't offer you the time. Wish you all the best." Then put the phone down.
Always end on a good note by wishing them well and keep your tone friendly. All this actually takes less than a minute and you only need to say less than 10 sentences.
Many people will pretend that they are in a meeting. I found this to be pointless because they will only ask you if they can call you back at a later time. This is a pointless conversation that will have you trying to dodge another call later on.
Interestingly, I got a cold call as I am typing this and I did exactly what I wrote here.
How do you respond to cold calls? Do leave a comment. I am interested to know.