Some people hate even the idea of cold calling. Other people swear by it. But generally, at least once a month, someone will either talk to me about the problems they’re having with their cold calling efforts, or ask me my thoughts on it. So today, here’s my two cents.
Cold calling. Just saying the words makes the blood of some salespeople run cold. And there’s probably a lot of good reason for that.
Cold calling has probably stopped more potential salespeople in their tracks and killed more sales careers than any other obstacle.
But if I’m going to be accurate, I’d actually have to say it’s not cold calling that killed those careers. It was fear of cold calling, a refusal to take action or more likely, the mistaken idea that there are no alternatives. Of course, there are. But let’s back up for a moment.
Many people think of cold calling as the necessary first step in a successful sales process. But it’s not any of those things. It’s not always necessary, it’s not the first step, and it doesn’t often lead to a successful sales process. Wow, am I going to get emails about that. But it’s true!
First off, cold calling is not the first step.
The first step is targeting: Deciding in advance who I’m going to approach. Obviously, it’s impossible to make a cold call until and unless we first decide — as the old Ghostbusters theme used to say — “who ya gonna call?”
So targeting always comes first.
Second, it’s not always necessary.
In fact, I’ll take that a step further and suggest that it’s never actually necessary. I can hear it now, screams of “Sales blasphemy” echoing around the industry from all those who have never bothered to explore any of the alternatives to cold calling.
But I’m on a roll, so let’s see who else I can offend today…
Average performing sales managers are going to be grabbing their torches and pitchforks and getting ready to storm my castle when they hear this one…
Third, cold calling doesn’t often lead to a successful sales process.
“How can you possibly tell my salespeople that?”
I don’t have to tell your salespeople that. The numbers will tell your salespeople that. Make 100 cold calls and see how many of them go on to become clients? Great clients. All of them? No. Most of them? Probably not. Some? If you’re lucky!
Certainly, much of anyone’s success in cold calling starts with targeting.
If you manage to target a lot of the right people and also, somehow manage to avoid alienating them with your cold calling approach, you will certainly get more people to buy from you than if you target the wrong people, in the wrong businesses and the wrong industries. Or if you don’t contact anyone at all. So yes, I will concede that cold calling is a better alternative than doing absolutely nothing.
Even when you do targeting and cold calling right — even when you do it as well as it can be done, you’re still likely to have a lot more failure than success.
And the primary reason for that is positioning. When you cold call someone, how does it position you with that person? Above them or below them? As a professional or as a nuisance? What does cold calling tell that person about you?
You may think, it tells them:
- I’m a professional with a solution to offer.
- I care enough about them to reach out personally.
- I am committed to their success and I want to help them.
All noble and lovely sentiments.
But what else might it tell them?
- You’re a typical salesperson?
- You have nothing better to do?
- You’re stuck with too much time on your hands?
- You are totally fine with interrupting their day?
- You haven’t bothered to figure out a better approach?
Look, I know that what I’m saying today is going to be hard to swallow, particularly if you’ve bought into the prevailing notion that cold calling is the best way, or perhaps the only way to initiate contact with prospects. But it’s not.
In my training program, Top Secrets of Customer Acquisition, I walk my clients through a six step process for bringing new clients through the door like clockwork.
Can cold calling be used in that approach? Yes it can. But I don’t recommend it… for many of the reasons I’ve just mentioned and for many more that I won’t get into now.
So try this: instead of thinking in terms of cold calling, think in terms of “First Contact.”
What is the first contact that my prospect is going to have with me?
Will it be positive or negative? Fantastic or terrible? Memorable or totally forgettable?
Will it be a cold call? Or will it be something much better? We’ll talk more about that in our next issue.
In the meantime, if you’re serious about getting new clients and if you want to do it far more effectively and without cold calling, I encourage you to test-drive my Top Secret of Customer Acquisition system risk-free in your business for one full year.
Put it through it’s paces, test out all the strategies. Get my help for the next year. Then, if it doesn’t make or save you at least ten times what you paid for it, in increased sales or bottom line savings, you don’t pay. Just request and receive a full refund. With the online version, you don’t even have to send anything back. But you do have to do the work. You do have to take action, ’cause as the saying goes, I can’t do your push-ups for you.
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