Replacing the cold call with a hot call, or anything.
The three word definition of a cold call is waste of time.
No one likes cold calls. Not the salesperson who makes them. And surely not the prospect who receives them. It’s a way to sell, just not the best way to sell and getting worse by the day.
“Cold calls are a necessary evil of selling,” is a false statement. “Cold calls are a necessary evils if you don’t employ the correct selling strategies,” is a true statement.
Here’s what waits for you at the other end of a cold call.
You’re calling people who already have or don’t want what you’ve got.
You’re calling people who don’t know who you are or what you’ve got.
You’re calling people who don’t want to be bothered.
You’re calling people who resent being interrupted.
You’re calling people who resent intrusion.
You’re calling people who resent your call.
You’re calling people who will get angry at you or your company.
It’s not a “cold call,” it’s an intrusion without an invitation. A gate crash. And if handled poorly, will ruin future chances for a legitimate sales call.
Let’s see, poor timing, a tough time getting through, and if you do, you fight for attention. AND, 95% of those who get through are wholly untrained and incapable of selling anything anyway. What’s the point? Isn’t there a better way? Look at the other side there is no worse way.
The cold call is the lowest percentage sale. AND biggest part of a cold caller’s activity is rejection. Oh boy, sounds like fun to me. Interestingly, the cold call and it’s brother “rejection” are also the biggest cause of salespeople quitting their jobs.
If you look at the “cold calling” industry, most of it leaves a lot to be desired donation solicitation, unscrupulous office supply companies, long distance phone services, people calling “on behalf of” legitimate organizations, stock brokers looking for a “hit” wrong way to win.
Cold calling is a fading process because business people are tired of cold calls. Buyers are smarter and more selective. And the biggest reason Business people want more “relationship oriented” than “hitandrun” salespeople.
The cold call is going through a metamorphosis. As it becomes harder to just “walk in” with security and locked buildings, or just “phonein” with voice mail, there are emerging new trends that will place the cold call alongside the rotary dial phone and the typewriter: Still around, but laughed at when used.
There are much better ways of putting yourself in front of people who can say yes to you (other than advertising). Here are some acceptable alternatives to the cold call that are not only better, they are more fun, more gratifying and will net better results.
present customer expansion
business group involvement
referrals (the earned kind)
speaking in public
Salespeople who don’t network or use referral selling will have to make cold calls. But cold calls as a mainstay of building your sales, can and should be eliminated.
If you want to use cold calling as a learning tool. Do it as a supplement to a successful selling program not as a mainstay. When you do it as a supplement, you’re more relaxed about the outcome because your life doesn’t depend on it.
Here are some acceptable cold call circumstances:
After a sales call to go to one or two neighboring businesses or offices. Try to get your customer to introduce you rather than busting in alone.
Driving down the road and a business “instinct” hits you that this would be a great customer. Gut instinct is fun to follow.
Making a small set number of calls a day to practice gaining engagement or try out new sales ideas. Using the cold call as training. Cold calls are a lousy way to make a sale but they are a great place to learn how to sell.
Calling a particular category of business that has proven successful in the past or is “hot.” If everyone else is buying, engagement will be easier. Take a testimonial or three with you.
If you’ve done some homework, have a specific target for a specific purpose and have no other way of making contact you think, “I have to make a cold call.” Even then a letter, fax or email is better to start the ball rolling.
The secret of cold calling is it’s not who you know it’s who knows you. If they know you, they will invite you in. If they don’t know you, you’re toast. The hard part is getting known but it can be done.
“Sales is a numbers game,” is a philosophy that is short lived. “Sales is a smart numbers game” is closer to the real world and an infinitely wiser path to pursue. Sales is also a mutual respect game. Play it that way and you win much more often.
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Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Sales Bible, and Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless. President of Charlottebased Buy Gitomer, he gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts training programs on selling and customer service. He can be reached at 704/3331112 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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