Cold Calls: The Death Knell of a Sales Call

25 Aug

How many times a week do you get a call from a salesperson, “I’m with XYZ Hotel and I’m calling to see if you would ever consider us for your groups?” Or, “Hi, I represent a motivational speaker and want to know if you would ever have a need for him?” In both scenarios, I would say “no, but thank you for calling and promptly hang up.” Then, they insist on “sending you information to keep on file.” Guess what. You’ve now wasted my time and yours.

So, why do I find this frustrating? I was in the hotel sales business for more than twenty years and loved it. My frustration is that for every call like the two examples above, you have interrupted my productivity. More importantly, every second I’m talking to you I’m not talking to my customer. And, make no mistake my customers will always come first.

With that said, let me give some unsolicited advise.
Sales Leaders: stop giving your staff a “list of prospects” and tell them to “call and see if they have business for us.” We’re not in the 80s anymore!

Sales People: if you’re boss still believes in the “prospecting list”, then read below. If you’re satisfied with your current results, don’t bother to read any further.

Do Your Homework
The business world is more transparent than ever before. Researching a company or potential customer no longer requires hours of research in the library squinting over microfiche newspapers, journals, and press releases. (If you’re too young to know what microfiche is, look it up. You’ll have a greater appreciation for the value of the Internet). Utilize LinkedIn, Company web sites, Facebook, Twitter, and Conference Registration pages. I write for newsletters, blogs, discussion forums, and speak at professional conferences. If you can’t take the time to learn my business needs and priorities, don’t call me. You’re wasting my time and yours.

Develop a Value Proposition
Before you call me, have a plan. Develop an effective 60-second elevator pitch that demonstrates you understand my business and where your product may fit in. If you can’t explain the features and benefits of your product to me in a clear, concise, and succinct way, then our conversation is going to be very awkward and overwhelmingly short. If you’ve made a successful effective elevator pitch, ask to schedule a call to discuss your product in more detail. Since this initial call is a disruption to my day, let’s set up a time that’s convenient for both of us. I like talking with sales people. I just don’t have time to explain my business to you. There are enough tools for you to figure it out.

Remain Connected
After our scheduled call, invite me to connect with you on LinkedIn. Set a Google Alert for my company and each of my client associations so you can monitor my business. Drop me an email on holidays. Send me a handwritten “thank you” note if I’ve met with you and/or conducted a demonstration of your product. Set calendar notices one week prior to each of my conventions to wish me luck. And, set a calendar notice for one week after each convention to discuss those things that went well, and what I might do differently next time.  Finally, use these “connections” to better understand how we might be able to do business together.

The above steps are by no means comprehensive. If you’ve read this far, I would love to hear other ideas you have for effective sales calls. Best of luck!

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2 Responses to “Cold Calls: The Death Knell of a Sales Call”

  1. Milan Grba August 26, 2012 at 11:12 am #

    My point exactly. This holds true no matter what your market segment. I live by your exact outline. Thank you for your voice. If I can help in any fashion please feel free to call on me.

    Sincerely,

    Milan

  2. Robert Minskoff October 3, 2012 at 8:42 am #

    Great article! I could not agree with you more about doing one’s homework. I have been writing about web-based prospecting just as of recently. With today’s technology finding the right decision-maker(s) is easy. When calling, having a plan and an effective, engaging message is critical.
    I do have a slight differing opinion on the efficacy of cold calling. I have been cold calling (in various industries) for many years and some of my best customers came from cold calling. Be it on the phone, email, or walking through a door. I would estimte that almost 80% of my sales have been through cold calling. Is it the best method? Maybe not. But when executed properly, it can yield positive results.
    You stated in the beginning of your article by saying that if someone calls you and they have not properly engaged you, you will promptly hang up because you must tend to your customers. Later in the article you state that if the salesperson has properly engaged you, you will be more willing to take a call to further discuss the opportunity. Either way, the call has come in when you did not expect it and possibly interrupting your work day. I contend that all sales calls are “cold calls” unless you have a direct referral or established relationship with the prospective buyer. If they do not know you and you do not know them, it is a cold call by definition. When you reach out to the prospective buyer you will always be interrupting something. That is the risk one takes in today’s business environment.
    Good Luck & Good Selling!
    Robert

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