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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Talking Cold Call Blues

Thanks to Ram Iyer for asking about cold calling.

Cold calling is a technique for getting focus from new prospects. Sales professionals use the phone because it covered a wider geographic footprint than canvassing door-to-door, and the weather is usually better indoors.

The golden age of cold calling was before voicemail. Return has been decreasing over the last 30 years. However, if you can't imagine anything else, it is cheap and allows rookie salesmen to learn about their product beating on people they will never sell.

I am downright frosty when doing something else and interrupted by a cold caller. It's not a buying moment.

When we cold call, we are trying to interest someone in our offering. When do people want to learn?

Most people schedule specific times and activities to learn. How can you be there then?

How do people want to learn? Trying to listen over a staticky phone connection in the middle of another meeting is not optimal. With all the rich media available today, what is a better way to make your case?

Many salesmen think talking about their process is the key to making a sale. It is not.

Explaining how others have benefited from buying your offering usually works better. Doesn't have anything to do with what you did.

Even better is having your happy customers explaining their benefit to their peers. How do you do that?

What can you add? 

Please join us at:
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Unknown said...


Good points. Interruptions by calls are deferred by hitting the DTVM button (direct to voice mail) - but then the goal when listening to the messages is to clear the stack. Also not a sales moment.

The docs have developed a process to handle the detail-man promoting pharmaceuticals: they establish a day and time to see these folks and will not at other times.

This is parallel to the scheduled learning time mentioned above.

Cold calling is based on sheer volume - a small percentage of which result in sales. Little knowledge of customer need; little customer understanding of the offered solution. 'Spending' a precious resource - time - is the wasteful result of cold calling.

Perhaps a crystal ball to match up time when the customer's need, the seller's solution, and the instant the customer focuses on that need would improve sales results over cold calling.

Thoughthebrowser said...

Thanks for extending the blog post, Jack.

That crystal ball can be offering something the prospects wants to know enough to take time to learn it.

Bill Tilghman said...

In the end sales success is completely dependent on activity. Cold calling is activity so it works. But it needs to be part of a well conceived plan.

That plan starts with having a clear understanding of who I am calling and why. What is the goal of the call. All this depends on what you are selling.

For us, the goal is to get a meeting with a DM, so the goal of my call is to confirm that I have the right person. Once I do that, my next step is to convince them to take a meeting. That requires making an argument based on their needs. Again that means knowing who you are talking to. It is an art that I really enjoy. Nothing is more fun than listening to the tone of a voice change from "Rats, a salesman." to "Wow, I can't believe he just called! Sure, I can meet."

Of course, cold calling is a last resort for getting to someone you really want to meet. Introductions, referrals, networking event, warm calls following an email, following up on a response to a marketing campaign are all much easier.

But sometimes you just have to pick up the phone.

Thoughthebrowser said...

Well said, Bill!

I liked three things you brought up.

1. Activity first. We'll figure out why later.
2. Want to have a reason for the call...the better, the better the results.
3. "Some times you just have to pick up the phone." That panic when they answer clears the mind. Often my mind will say something my brain didn't know.

Thank you,