Over the past few years ‘Cold-Calling’ had become a favored activity of choice to generate Sales as it is believed you can contact large numbers of ‘prospects’ in a short space of time. BUT, I heard that ‘Cold-Calling’ is dead… I have to disagree and here’s why;
I was recently at a Seminar when one of the business owners at my table said “cold-calling is dead”. I asked what had replaced it, he had no answer, but to tell me it was a useless waste of time as “you make no sales, pointless exercise, time can be better spent”…
General definition of “Cold-Calling”; contacting prospective customers or clients, typically by phone, when the contacted was not expecting the call… This can be viewed as a low risk option [to the business selling] for a business to try to generate sales of goods or service.
What I think it is;
Cold-Calling; A process by which to introduce yourself or your Business to another business or customer with the intent to share relevant information and gain permission to contact again. No selling there!
I have never viewed cold calling as being part of my job description and I have been in Sales for nearly 15 years… So what do I do?
Research lists/build databases relevant to the project in hand. Get the appropriate contacts with-in the companies you want to break into. There have been posts where people will tell you Social Media is great for that. Yes, it will give you a name, but it wasn’t given to you. Use mutual connections to get introduced properly, I’m dreadfully old fashioned, you can bulldozer your way in, but all that does is knock things over and ruffle feathers. Ask for introductions, it shows you care enough to ‘ask’, this also allows your connection to talk about you to the person you need to talk to..
Prepare the Prospect
Send email or letter information, general marketing information, a precise explanation of the business and what you offer, information on an offer that may be on at this time. Have a reason to contact this prospect/business. A blind “we sell x y z, would you like to buy x y z” just wont work… Remember this isn’t “cold calling” as you know it…
Introduction Calls [used to be known as Cold Calling]
Once the information has been sent, give 3 working days for post and or the information to land on the appropriate desk. Then make ‘the call’. I [where relevant] introduced yourself, the company, the product/service you are offering and gave the ‘prospect’ a chance to speak. This is known as scripts/scripting, a whole other blog! [My dad always told me use my mouth and ears in ratio]
There is no way you are going to sell oh I don’t know, say Ice to an Eskimo unless you listen to him, listen and ask the right questions… You could find out he has a party coming up and needs a tonne more of the stuff 😉 We are now relationship building, even if they never buy from us, they will feel they know us and will therefore trust to pass us on as a recommendation.
The Science bit!
When ‘prospecting’, make sure you have avenues of possible future sales recorded. When I was an agent, the other sales agents on my team thought I was nuts, recording details not actually asked for by managers “extra work for yourself, good luck and no thanks”.
Was it really extra work? If I was doing my job correctly, no! Typically we work in front of our computer or with a clipboard with a spreadsheet of information; Company, Contact Name, Email, Number. I would have columns for information I need to record, contact if initial is wrong, new number, best time to call, etc… So whats one more column? If they say no thank you, be prepared to ask for a another lead, time to tender, etc. seconds to gain information that could be priceless..
This is business development, eureka moment anyone? I know a business directly linked to me that has a business development day each week, the name has changed, but the activity is exactly the same as when they had ‘cold-calling sessions’.
This revelation also turns the idea that ‘cold-calling is dead’ right on its head… If you perceive cold-calling to be a way to make sales, then yes, you may be going to work everyday faced with a litany of No, no, nil, NO, and no… See this as the business development opportunity that it is and prepare yourself to make connections, learn about the person/company on the other end of the phone. How “pointless” are these exercises?
Accept that if you chose this process to “make sales” then there will be more than one call involved [99% of the time]. A recent experience with one client showed; 40 business development [replaced the word ‘cold’] calls got him one coffee meeting… Consider the fact that this is the first time the contacted person is hearing about you, your product/service and they will probably like a follow up or some other type of information [website, email, booklet].
Now, tomorrow when you are about to make that cold… Sorry business development call, think about who you are talking to, not what you are trying to sell. You never know your day may end on a brighter note!
Image: “waiting for a call/Shutterstock“