Why Cold-Calling Sucks – Here’s a Sales System That Works Better

Few People Like Cold-Calling
Most salespeople that I talk to would rather do anything than make a cold call. It is generally considered the worst part of a salesperson’s life.

Sure, there are a few salespeople that thrive on it. I take my hat off to them. However, for those of us lesser mortals, wouldn’t it be nice to have a system where we didn’t have to cold call?

The first part of our route to a system like this is to realize a basic truth about cold-calling.

Cold-Calling is Inefficient

I run a lot of sales workshops for printing companies. At these workshops I always ask delegates how many truly effective calls they feel they can make in a day. The answer is rarely more than 10. Most people believe that they really only achieve five effective calls in a day if they are cold-calling.

When we look at the considerable resources spent on many salespeople, that’s an appalling return on investment. Surely there is a better way to use a salesperson’s time?

I Prefer to Talk About Warm-Calling
It’s much better to have people that are keen to take your call. You are far more likely to get a good result if you have someone who knows a bit about you and your company. It’s even better if they are eager to talk to you.

However, that still leaves the salesperson with a problem.

How Do You Find Warm Prospects?
One way is to try and warm people up with direct mail. Used well, it can be very powerful.

My favorite channel to warm prospects is to use social media. Used in the right way, social media can line up a good pipeline of warm prospects. In fact, when I use social media I often get people calling me, interested to work with me. I get so many opportunities this way that I now only speak with people who are already engaged with me.

Many printing companies are frustrated how hard it is to engage buyers in today’s world. That’s where Matthew Parker can help. He is a gamekeeper turned poacher. Parker has bought print for more than 20 years and received over 1,400 print sales pitches. He now uses his buyer’s point of view to give practical advice to printers. He helps them engage with prospects and customers to create profitable relationships.

Download his free e-book, “Ten Common Print Selling Errors And What To Do About Them
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  • Chris Batchelder

    Cold Calling – A great way to hone your skills, keep current and relevant. Perhaps I am one of the masochistic folks that just like pain, but I do enjoy the thrill of cold-calling. It reminds me of those awkward days at a Junior High function when you wanted to ask that cute girl to dance. In either case, the worst thing that can happen is that they will say “no”. All of us in Sales should be mature and thick-skinned enough to be able to handle rejection. It is part of the game. Even after years of Sales, cold calls always ground me and remind me about what is important about my clients.

    Clearly, in different types of markets and settings, cold calling can be more or less effective. For me, I use this as a valuable tool when I am on the road. Like most of you, I will enter a city or geographic area with an anchor client or two and then have several targets of opportunity. If I have time before or after my main meetings, it is time to go introduce myself to the prospective future customers. The results are usually surprising. You may call these cool to warm calls, as I know that these folks use competitive products and services, they just haven’t heard from me yet.

    Success rates vary on whether you make it past the gatekeeper or not, but you should always leave with the name and info of the key contact for you to call on in the future. Several times I have gone back to my car, called that person and walked right back in with an appointment. You should also always leave your business card for the person and some sales literature too. Regardless of making it to the desk of your prime target or not, the value is being there. It shows that customer that you feel they are important enough to stop by and see them and that you care enough to go out of your way for them…even trying to meet them on the dreaded “cold call”.

    If you do get past the gatekeeper and to the key contact, take advantage of the time. Normally, this person is on a bit of the defensive since they don’t know you and if they are familiar with your company, they will ask some hard hitting questions. They will often bring up market gossip that the competition is slurring you with. This is a great way to practice staying on your toes, thinking fast, and collecting market intel on your company that you may not have had access to otherwise. Have your elevator speech ready, in this situation, most of the folks are short on time. Hook them early and maybe you can get 30 to 60 minutes of face time.

    For me, I have been fortunate enough to convert several of these cold calls into long-term productive accounts, including large corporate customers.

    Quite honestly, for most of us, just knocking on the door is a “win”, be proud of yourselves for doing it and know that this seemingly thankless effort will earn dividends.

    I guess it goes back to one of the golden rules of Sales. You can’t achieve success if you don’t ask. Make the cold calls and continue to grow as a salesperson.