Cold Calling: You’re Going To Hate This

Okay you’re going to hate this. If you are a salesperson, you are going to really hate this column. But this is a basic sales and marketing column and at least once a year I am obligated by law to do a column on the much hated, dreaded and feared of all duties of a good sales person, that most hateful of all sales tactics: The Cold Call!

Just like taxes and death the cold call is one of those basic, unavoidable facts of life. If you are a salesperson you have to call someone you don’t know, someone who really does not want to hear from you, someone who feels that she does not need to hear from you, and thrn try to get her to do something she does not want to do.

Sorry but the time to talk about cold calling is now…it’s today. I declare this to be the April 15th of the sales profession.

Stop with the tearing of clothes and the gnashing of teeth and read on.

By the way, I have come across at least two people in the past month who love cold calling. They just thrive on it! Okay stop it! I can hear you all the way up here in Maine grumbling, “what’s wrong with those weirdos?”

Nope, they are not weirdos. What they are is brave, courageous, and fearless. They know that in the end all sales is about is contacting someone you don’t know and convincing them that they need what you are selling.

Look, it doesn’t have to be that bad. It can be rather painless if you think about it. If you do five calls a day, it will take you less than an hour and at the end of the year you will have made thirteen hundred calls!

I know customers are not working in their offices because of Covid. That’s good, in fact that’s great, that means that they are available to answer your call. They might even be lonely enough to take that call. It is better to be calling customers now during Covid than it was before.

I know the chances of getting voice mail are great. And that’s why you have to be prepared to leave great, interesting, and provocative voice mails.

Sorry, your excuses are not going to work. I have been in this business a long time and I have been helping salespeople grow their sales for a very long time. I know all the excuses; all  the reasons why cold calling does not work.

I have known salespeople who have been so desperate that they have gone online to find articles that defend the position that cold calls don’t work. And sorry you are wrong, because cold calls do work. It’s the people who don’t want to do them who aren’t working.

In fact, just to help you out, here are some of the “best” reasons why cold calling does not work.

  • I don’t want to bother the person I am calling. 
  • They won’t answer the phone anyway.
  • If they want something they’ll call me.
  • I don’t want to waste their time.
  • I don’t want them to get mad at me!
  • If they get upset, they will never do business with me

Okay that’s most of them. If you have said any of these things, then shame on you, we are going to kick you out of the salesperson club. Let’s get over the argument of to call or not to call. You have to call, period!

Here are five things you can do to make sure you succeed in your cold calling:

  1. Set a goal of the number of calls you are going to make. Five a day is acceptable. Or if you are really scared then start with three a day. (Wimp!)
  2. Call in the morning. That is the best time to call and the best time for you to get it done. We are all braver in the mornings. And often the target has not really jumped into the business of her day.
  3. Leave a message. I met a guy once who bragged that one of his cold calling tactics was to not leave a message. That guy was an idiot! Leave a message. You know that it is a message that will be listened to. The odds of someone listening to a voice mail are far greater than of them opening and reading an email. You have their attention which in sales is the goal isn’t it? Now leave a good and provocative message. Have a great voice mail script that says who you are and why you are calling. And make it personal.
  4. Follow up with a text message. Yes, a text message, you have their phone number, right? And chances are that because of Covid they are at home, so they are using their smartphone. Once again it has been proven that people look at all of their text messages almost all the time. Once again you have a practically captive audience. And let them know when you will be calling back.
  5. Then send a text message a half hour before you are going to re-call them. They will either say okay or tell you a better time to call them.

Of course, there is much more to successful cold calling. But these five guidelines are enough to get you started. And that’s guideline six by the way, always under promise and over deliver. 

Get started! Take that first step after that first one all the other steps get easier. It’s only common sense.