During The Growth Academy sessions one of the most commonly asked questions is about the validity of cold calling and how to do it effectively.
The simple answer is that you don’t cold call.
For many years cold calling targets has been a highly utilised sales tactic. It is valued by many companies and disliked immensely by many of the people on the receiving end, but as James of Engage PR said this week “I hate it, but it must work or they wouldn’t do it. I am happy to talk with a company that I have indicated an interest in receiving a call from, but I wouldn’t buy anything following a call from a complete stranger.”
Cold calling is basically a numbers game and can be a thankless and fruitless task, there are companies around who work on the principal of calling and calling until they get a result and the law of averages will dictate that if you call enough people someone will show an interest. But surely there is a better way?
I have been on the receiving end of a call from a guy trying to get me to buy a conservatory when I lived in a 4th floor flat. I had great fun with that one but joking aside, do some research! You are not only wasting their time, you are also wasting your time and damaging your reputation.
I have listed below The Growth Academy top tips on how to Call “Cold Targets” effectively. These tips are key parts of a process which we work on with our clients, and shouldn’t be taken as the only things to be considered.
Choose your targets sector very carefully and ensure that you have something of value for that sector.
Work out which contact you should be speaking to within the company ( FD, MD, HR etc)
Have a good solid qualification criteria of who you can sell to effectively. Minimise the time trying to sell to companies who will never be your customer.
Know something about the company you are calling prior to calling them, at the very least read their website home page or Linked In profile.
Do not try and sell anything on the first call to a company, use that first call as an introduction and information gathering exercise.
Remember that most companies will get hounded by cold calls and will be on the back foot, respect the person answering the phone and always be courteous. Do not underestimate the positive influence of a gate-keeper or receptionist.
Record the information properly and ensure that you follow-up on any requests they may have or any promises you make.
As I said earlier, this isn’t a complete or comprehensive list and I would welcome any additional tips you may have and we would also welcome any thoughts from people who have been on the receiving end of either good or bad cold calling in the past!
Thanks for this useful post. I think cold calling is something that makes people shudder slightly, whether you're doing the calling or receiving the call. I think this is where LinkedIn can be hugely useful because it works on the principal of 6 degrees of separation. Although LinkedIn stops short at 3 degrees you can still use it to discover who is connected to the person that you need an introduction to. And, an introduction to someone is always more positively received than a cold call.
Could you give me some tips on how to stop some of the cold callers in their tracks and stop wasting my time?
Cold calling to sell on the first call is spam. It's like expecting to get to fourth base on the first date (not that I know about such things). A call to ask for information is something else, but if it's seen as being sales motivated then it may be classed as spam anyway.
The trick is in generating leads and then finding your way through from info to discussion and to gather info on whether there's a sales opportunity or not.
I don't mind a cold call to ask for my email address if it is something I really need or want, but I'd rather go and find the information myself.
I think if you were to stop them all then you could end up missing out on potentially finding a great new product or supplier. What I would recommend is to ask them some quick and clear questions to clarify if they have qualified you properly as a target and to establish their credibility.
Dan, it is key that the first call is very much delivered in a way that makes it clear to the person at the other end of the line that you are trying to add value and not looking for a quick sale. To add to your analogy on 4th base scenario, if single people only ever approached other single people who had invited them to the human race would die out :)