Home » Business » Marketing and Advertising

Cold Calling: Not Just for Fools, Crazies and Door to Door Salesmen Anymore

Jan 9, 2008
Cold calling is going extinct. Even its contemporary translation to 'telemarketing' isn't enough to keep it going. My take is that it will disappear altogether and then be resurrected as a new business and marketing strategy dubbed 'Direct Prospect Interphasing' or some such.

Cold calling basically became popular in the past as a way to directly market to both warm and cold prospects, if there even is such a thing as a cold prospect. It works great for selling goods or services that require timing and one just shows up and fills the order. But to get that to work one has to play the numbers game and for many goods and services the best way to get those numbers is to volume cold call. For many types of sales there is really no other way to accurately qualify a prospect.

Cold calling is a percentage game and the closing ratio numbers are low because for most prospects the perceived timing is not right or they refuse to make an on the spot decision. Or they feel that no one can walk in off the street and do them any good. Especially if you are dealing with medium and small sized businesses you will find many owners that are clueless and simply don't care. This also makes it a percentage game.

After cold calling on 100 prospects take a step back and evaluate what you saw. Hopefully you kept notes and each visit is clear in your mind. Take what you learned on the first 100 and apply it to the next 100.

If you sell into a specific industry, there is no better way to get to know it than to cold call. Keep your eyes open and your mouth shut unless you ask a question. If you can, ask open ended questions as folks tend to open up more. Start with easy questions and get progressively more pointed as times goes by.

If you are patient and just keep listening you will be amazed at what you can find out. Each time you hear the responses you catalogue them in your brain and over a period of time you can recognize patterns and perhaps most importantly, trends. Cold callers always know which way the wind blows because they are always taking the pulse from the street.

Cold calling sharpened my wit and powers of observation and directly led to projects where I would do competitive intelligence or checking out the competition. I got to the point I could just about find out whatever I needed to know about a company simply by walking in and asking a few simple questions and appearing interested.

I would often come back with a company profile, sales and income figures, key employees, software, inventory, management style and even management/employee relations. All this in maybe 10 or 15 minutes. All this from having spent many days cold calling in many different jobs in many different industries.

The really sharp cold callers don't go in with a preconceived plan. They are savvy enough to know every business is different so no cookie cutter formulas apply. That's if you are an independent and sharp. You learn to adapt to the situation and not force everything through a numbers driven hole. Consequently, it drives your numbers up.

If you work for a company most likely they will have a presentation, portfolio and everything else you need to make the sale their way. They don't want loose cannons and they want you to follow their script. They drive you day after day to create volumes of contacts to keep your sales numbers up...once again, a percentage game. The reason they do it is it works. At least for them.

Most companies will train you to give the presentation, ask a series of needs assessment questions and then teach you how to overcome common objections and close. All this is done because it's a numbers game. If you can't hack it, someone else will. The turnover rate in these types of jobs is off the charts.

But I'm partly contrarian. For me, good things happen whenever I decide just to walk in. I see things I would not have seen. Learn things I would not have learned. Get pointers and contacts that I would not have gotten. It may be a marketplace but it's also a school and information center. For me after so many years it's not so much a matter of guts but effort...cold calling helps me reassess where my efforts are best spent.

And it certainly is an adventure...who said business by definition has to be boring?
About the Author
Jack D. Deal writes marketing articles and is the owner of Deal Business Consulting. Related articles may be found at http://www.jddeal.com and http://www.freeandinquiringmind.typepad.com
Rating:
Please Rate:
(Average: Not rated)
Views: 128
Print Email Report Share
Article Categories