“I’ve only met two types of people who really like making cold calls…. Liars and people who have never really made one!” If this quote sounds familiar, it’s because it’s fundamentally true. Most successful sales people simply hate to make “cold” calls. Intellectually they admit that it could be an effective way to speak to prospective customers, so why do they treat it as having all of the characteristics of a root canal?

Two reasons: they hate interrupting a stranger’s day and shrink from the prospect of being rejected by someone at the other end of a telephone line. Maybe there is a third reason. Maybe they just don’t know how to make a call that works . . for both parties. A call that doesn’t sound like ones you heard in the movie Tin Men or Glen Gary Glen Ross. Instead, a consultative call that enables you to get through to the party you want to speak with, and to mutually determine whether or not you should meet or if they are a prospect for your services or products. Keep in mind that you are an expert in your field, with information and benefits to offer. Don’t put your prospective clients on a pedestal. They have a job to do, just like you.

Most of the star salespeople I have worked with remind themselves that every call, even one that doesn’t get an appointment or an order, has monetary and intrinsic value. If it takes you five calls today to get an order and that order is worth $500 to you, than each call was worth $100. Remember there are five things that can happen on every call, and they all have value to you.

You could get an order (“yes”)
You could book an appointment
You could get a “no” – it’s over.
You could get a referral.
You could learn a valuable lesson.
The problem occurs when you make cold calls and don’t get any of these.

Preparing for a cold call.

Carefully research prospective companies within an industry that you are comfortable dealing with and take notes on all of the pertinent aspects of their business. Newspapers and the trade press are often good places to start as well as several of the commercial directories. Don’t overlook putting your name on their mailing lists as a way to learn more about the suspect (prospect). If you call the firm in advance and say “I am planning to send some information to the person responsible for . . . . , would you mind sharing with me his or her name?” Check the spelling and exact title. No one like to see their name misspelled. Rule: Start at the top. You can always get referred lower in the organization if need be. Besides, the people at the top of the decision making ladder are usually open to new ideas that will help their firm and probably not hung up on the C.Y.A. syndrome that flourishes in insecure halls of middle management today.

Getting past the gatekeepers.

Receptionists / secretaries take calls all day long. They come in three flavors: 1) Customer calls. 2) Personal calls. 3) Sales calls. They hate sales calls and know how to get rid of them. The other two calls they routinely forward. Make a call that sounds like a personal call and you’ll be forwarded to the person you want to speak with, and not get caught at the gate. Don’t lie. Struggle. Assume that your prospect probably knows you and why you are calling. If you don’t give a lot of information, and don’t sound like a salesperson, you’ll get through. Receptionists don’t interrogate personal calls. It only takes a little practice . . don’t give up.

You get through to your prospect.

This is not the time to revert to a “features + benefits” hard sell. Be consultative. Ask questions and wait to listen to the answers. The first 10-20 seconds are the most important. Establish that you have expertise in your field, working with people in their industry and that you are willing to meet with them to share some information or to discuss an opportunity. Find a “pain” they admit to and learn if they are committed to getting rid of the pain. Treat objections as opportunities. Remember, you can’t handle their objections. Only they can do that, with your guidance.

The point of this is that if you are new to sales and don’t have a large enough client base to be making referred calls, then learn how to make a good cold call. One day, soon, you will only make cold calls when you want to . . .not because you have to.

The key to going from knowing to owning is reinforcement

Sometimes when we call to remind some of our “old-timer” members about our new workshop schedule, we hear back “No thank you, I’ve already been to that one.” They may have forgotten that we strive to continuously improve all of our workshops so that as your needs grow, we are able to continue to be of service to you. I know you have been to a TQS basics before, but are you closing 9 of 10 today? Would you like to? Maybe you’ve been to a telephone workshop before, but are you booking appointments with everyone you want to? Are you managing your time as effectively as you could, Bunky? It’s simple, the key is reinforcement and practice. Practice role playing with me at sales clinics we conduct twice every month. Register today for another dose of CS+M. Regardless of how long it’s been. I promise you it will help you, and besides it’s free for all Inner Circle members.

Good selling,
Dave Rothfeld