If Cold Calling "Doesn’t Work," Then Who Paid Off My Mortgag…
There is no argument against a fact – St. Thomas Aquinas tells us. So when I observe self-appointed swamis pushing their “cold calling is dead” mantra, it is difficult not to laugh. The last 15 years of my life is proof that “cold calling” does indeed work; and works to the tune of millions of dollars of new sales revenues, every quarter, for our client base.
Do these sales swamis really and sincerely believe cold-calling is dead, or are they cynically exploiting the fact that most salespeople dislike doing it, in order to hawk their books, motivational tapes and different marketing techniques. Aren’t they selling denial to the scared and the spineless? In fact, how much prospecting for new business did they ever do, before they capitulated and, like the fox who lost his tail in the fable, try to convince the other foxes that “tails are an unnecessary nuisance”?
It must be said that the marketplace is noisy and is only getting noisier. All salespeople and marketers are competing in the public square for the same decision-makers’ ears, eyes and dollars. Cold calling by using the Yellow Pages, dialling for dollars or simply contacting firms with little or no knowledge of what they do, or how to add value to their business, truly is a waste of time. But, this is equally true of any other form of marketing. Telephone based marketing has a rare edge, however, in that, unlike any other form of marketing, you will get some feedback, already when the called person is less than fully interested.
How many marketers have aroused interest with a fancy brochure, press article or web advert only to have that prospect Google half a dozen lower-cost or larger (safer) competitors and never communicate with them at all? This is impossible to measure, but it surely must happen, because as buyers we have all done exactly that when buying anything from holidays to cars.
What makes a “cold call” ineffective? It is not the call, so it must be the other information, “cold”. Somehow the fact that it is unsolicited, unexpected, unprepared or uninteresting, makes all the difference to the likely outcome. If a salesperson returning from lunch finds an e-mail or voicemail from a decision-maker saying “please call me about your product”, then they will pick up their telephone and do very much the same thing, as they would when they prospect for new business. Their value statement is just the same, the product is just the same, the salesperson is just the same. The only difference is the “cold”.
OK, that’s a hurdle! But is it an insurmountable hurdle?
Question: Imagine that the fire department phone you at your office today and say, “Hello Sir, your house is on fire!”. That is an unsolicited or cold call too. Would you say, “I’m not interested”, and hang up on them?
Can we warm up our calls? Can we make our unsolicited calls, so applicable, credible, vertically focused, curiosity arousing and filled with the potential of value and assistance, that a higher number of decision-makers are hooked? Will changing our conversational tackle and advantageous bait help us catch more fish?
At Elicit [http://www.sales-intelligence.net] we guarantee our clients 100% engagement with decision-makers. That method that 100% of the firms they wish to target will not only speak to us about our client’s value statement but read written follow-up; and then have a second or third qualifying conversation with us about it. We are targeting EVP and C-level decision-makers in Wall Street edges and investment firms. Since we are domain-experts with 20+ years of experience each, we are credible enough to always deliver on this potential, because we can always include with people. Our calls may be unsolicited, but our credibility in the opening 30 seconds overcomes that.
The bad news for some salespeople is that half of the firms in any market are already disadvantaged in this endeavour, because, by definition, 49.9% have products and sets that are below “average”. They don’t, or can’t, add as much value as their competitors. Their software products are tired and buggy and don’t do what the users need them to do. They have poor reputations for customer service and are on a path to being acquired or going out of business. Such firms are going to find not just cold calling but any form of marketing a largely fruitless exercise. We don’t take such firms as clients, already if they beg us, because without a good value statement it is impossible to include senior people. We’re good, but if you want magic then go to Vegas.
But for firms in the top 50%, the good news is that decision-makers, already those big-shots making million-dollar bonuses on Wall Street, are not anything like as tough as Gordon Gecko in the movie of the same name. If you can articulate your value in the opening 30 seconds, they will include you for another 60 seconds. Get by that minute with your credibility nevertheless intact and they will read a follow up e-mail of less than 150 words (the length of this use). When you call them back a week or two later they will re-include with you, listen and explain how your product or service could potentially fit in to their business, or articulate why it probably would not. Once you’ve achieved a considered response to your value statement, from a decision-maker who correctly understands what your company offers, then you’ve already achieved everything that any other form of marketing sets out to unprotected to.