Cold Calls, Hot Selling

By Malcolm Fleschner

In a perfect world, customers would simply call you up and place large orders. Not only would you have more time to work on your golf game, but also you’d avoid the unpleasantness of cold calls. Until that utopia arrives, however, cold calling will remain a necessary evil of the sales profession. In his book On Selling (Dove Books, 1996) author and International Management Group chairman Mark McCormack offers the following suggestions to light the fire under your cold-calling fingertips.

1. Excuses, excuses
Cold calls are always easier when you’ve got a pretext or excuse for your call. A great reason to call potential customers is if they’ve just begun a new job. Plus, the new executive is often open to new ideas and options. Look for new job announcements in the local paper or a trade journal and dial away.

2. Let’s be realistic
Set modest, achievable goals for your cold-calling efforts. If it’s unlikely that you’ll make a sale on an individual call, what is a reasonable goal? Maybe it’s just getting past the secretary or persuading the customer to let you send some written materials. Downgrade your ambitions and you’ll upgrade your spirits when you succeed.

3. Think top down
Begin your efforts at the high end of the chain of command. Top executives may be more difficult to reach, but they’re also the ones with the influence to buy. Or, they can at least tell you who is the right person to speak with.

4. Don’t lay it on too slick
When you’re making dozens of cold calls, your rap can begin to sound like just that. Alter your routine – even if it’s something simple like switching hands on the receiver or standing up – to remind you that each customer is unique and deserves your undivided attention.

5. Go anywhere for a yes
Many organizations have people on staff whose job it is to say “no.” They tend to have misleading titles like “purchasing agent.” Try a different department that’s not used to cold calls, like public relations, investor relations or human resources, and let them help you find your way through the company’s organization chart.

For more tips on how to turn cold calls into hot sales click here.