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When Should I Cold Call?

May 7, 2011 by  
Filed under Sales

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Who actually likes having the phone slammed down on them? Extreme perhaps, but that’s what puts many people off picking up the phone to find out who might be interested in buying from them. The telephone isn’t the big scary monster that some people think it is if you know what you’re doing. There must be a…


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Who actually likes having the phone slammed down on them?

Extreme perhaps, but that’s what puts many people off picking up the phone to find out who might be interested in buying from them. The telephone isn’t the big scary monster that some people think it is if you know what you’re doing.

There must be a sales manual out there that says if you’re going to cold call businesses, you should only do it between Tuesday and Thursday. Why? Because on a Monday people are thinking about the weekend and on Friday, guess what, they’re thinking about the weekend.

This may be true for people selling toner cartridges, water coolers or any of the multitude of items that are sold business to business every day, but it’s not so true for higher value services. In fact, I’d argue that there’s no reason to be cold calling – ever.

Before we think about when you should cold call, let’s take a moment to be clear about what a cold call is.

According to www.answers.com, a cold call is:

A telephone call or visit made to someone who is not known or not expecting contact, often in order to sell something.

For a moment, put yourself in the shoes of someone getting a cold call. Let’s imagine that you’re a senior manager in a mid-sized company. You don’t know this person who’s calling you, they don’t know you, yet they’re telling you they can help you to perform better at work or increase their revenue.

What’s going through your mind?

“Who is this person?”
“How did they get my number?”
“What makes them think I need any help? – Has someone been talking?”
“Why do they think they can do a better job than the company we’re already using?”
“If they’re as good as they say they are why are they calling me to tout for business?”

Now imagine this situation for a moment.

You’ve just settled down to watch your favourite TV show and the phone rings. It’s a dentist who tells you that they can fix your smile and make you more attractive to the opposite sex.

What are you thinking?

“Who is this person?”
“How did they get my number?”
“What makes them think I’m unattractive? – Has someone been talking?”
“Why do they think they can do a better job than my regular dentist who I trust?”
“If they’re that good, then why do they need to call strangers? – Have they frightened away all their clients?”

Do you notice any similarities with the earlier situation?
You relationship with your dentist is based on trust. OK, so you might not like going, but when you visit a dentist it’s good to know that you’re in safe hands. And how do most people choose a dentist – they ask other people who they go to and if they’re any good.

So back to cold calling.

I’m not saying that you should never pick up the phone to a prospective client. What I’m saying is that a random call out of the blue is not likely to get you very far. Managers and decision makers take calls from sales people day in day out and many of them are sick of it.

You might get lucky with a random call, but you can increase your chances by doing your research before you call:

Are they already using a company like yours?
If they already buy the product or service you’re offering from another company, they are likely to be more receptive than someone who has never bought what you’re selling before.

How far into their financial year are they?
If it’s a plc or limited company, you can check this information online. If they’re approaching year end, they might have money to spend (to soak up the VAT) or they might be out of cash. Either way, call a few months before year end to find out what their plans are for the next financial year.

Tap into your networks
Who do you know who can recommend you in to their company? Does your brother in law work there, does your friend who’s a Manager know anyone there, do you live next door to their accountant?

Name Drop
If you’re doing work for a similar company and there won’t be a conflict of interest, mention the results you’ve had with them (without revealing confidential information of course)

Send them something before you call
A letter, a brochure even a DVD of you talking about what you do could help you to cut through the clutter and get their attention. Then when you call, you can ask if they received the DVD and arrange a time to call for a more in-depth conversation.

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