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Does A Lead Generation Cold Call Have To Be So Cold?

Oct 28, 2007
When you are calling a prospective sales lead, there is a fence between you and the other person. That fence is there to keep out people who are trying to waste their time. People who want something. People like you (and me). Our job is to find the gate in that fence and coax the prospect to open it for us.

I've got a colleague, Danny, who can spot a telemarketer in less than five words, regardless of how genuine their script sounds. That's because Danny's legal name isn't Danny. In fact, his first name isn't even Daniel. That's his middle name. His first name is James. Anyone who knows him asks for 'Danny' when they call. Anyone who gets his name off of a list or out of some sort of directory asks for 'James,' and the flags go up immediately. 'Danny' then is the password for him to open the gate...and "James" trips the alarm.

Now, imagine you are at your mailbox. You have two envelopes with return addresses you don't recognize. One is addressed to you, by name: John Smith. The other is addressed to "Current Resident." If you could only open one of these envelopes, which would you open? If you had to throw one away, which would you toss? Chances are, the envelope addressed to "Current Resident" has little intrinsic value...there is no connection there. Your fence is keeping out anyone who thinks of you as "Current Resident."

Now, let's try something a little more subtle. You've just moved into a new house and have two envelopes. One is addressed to "Current Resident." The other is addressed to "New Neighbor." The difference is subtle. You can be pretty sure that both are bulk direct mail. But one sender at least knows something about you: you are new to the neighborhood. It resonates, because there is a personal element to it. "New Neighbor" might not be enough to let that person in through the gate. But at the very least, you're likely to open the gate enough to come out to see what they want.

Now we are ready to discuss how your opening lines in your lead generation script should warm up the cold call. Opening lines should create an instant connection between your call and the prospects business--a way of saying "I understand what this fence is for, but if you let me in I'll make it worth your while." For example..."we are experts in web site design" falls short, because it is all about you. Change that just a little bit to "we specialize in web site design for the manufacturing industry," and suddenly there is something that resonates.

Why does this small change warm up the cold call? The call is targeted...you have (and more importantly, your offer has) something in common with the prospect. Many decision makers are turned off by the randomness of cold calling. The prospects want to do business with vendors who know their business and are experts in their field. What's more, they want to feel that they are part of a select group, and not just one of the teeming masses you are calling at random. Those teeming masses are the reason the fence is there in the first place. Before you make your call, see if you can at least get an educated guess where the gate might be.

You should tailor the opening lines of your script--at the very least---to each vertical market, if not to each company you call. By finding common ground with the prospect, you automatically increase the likelihood that he or she will take time to listen to what you have to say. Like knowing Danny's name or identifying with the "new neighbor," you are standing at the gate, ready to be let in.
About the Author
Al Davidson is the President and Owner of SSM (Strategic Sales & Marketing, Inc. http://www.manageyourleads.com), which he founded in 1989. SSM has completed over 50 million cold calls to high level business decision makers and generated over 7 million sales leads.
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