Cold Call Makeover

By Lain Chroust Ehmann

It doesn’t matter how often you plead, yell, stomp your feet or otherwise encourage your team – cold calls often are the first to drop off the to-do list. Part of the problem, says Rodger Roeser, president of Eisen Management Group in Cincinnati, is the way cold calls are viewed – as something to dread versus something to enjoy. As a result, Roeser suggests adjusting the whole theory and thought behind the cold call.

Changing cold calling’s reputation starts with changing its name. Roeser uses a moniker that injects a little levity into the business of selling. He calls cold calls cocas, as in COld CAlls. The new name goes more than skin deep, though. Roeser has created a new strategy to accompany it, something he calls the Death Star. “I call it that because it’s very targeted and very effective, but in the wrong hands it can be very dangerous,” he laughs.

Roeser’s simple process involves a pack of index cards, a set of monthly and daily tabs (January to December and the numbers 1-31) and a file box. Each lead’s name is placed on a card and moved through the Death Star process.

While Roeser recommends giving your team plenty of information and opportunities to role play before getting on the phone, he doesn’t advocate spending too much time researching contacts before the initial call. There is so much data available, he says, “If you’re spending an inordinate amount of time researching, it can actually backfire.”

Instead, he says, cold calls should be basic. “Approach it in a more conversational manner. Say what you want to say in about nine seconds and then shut up. The goal of a cold call should be one of two things: eliminate the person from this list or make another call,” says Roeser. By making either outcome a success for your salespeople, they’ll be motivated to keep calling additional contacts, even in the face of repeated nos.

Contacts who seem interested are moved forward in the Death Star. Note the date you’ll follow up with additional marketing materials and another phone call or visit. If they’re not interested, move on, says Roeser. Send a letter to thank them for their time and to suggest they consider you if they’re ever interested in what you have to offer. Then let them go.

While Roeser’s approach might be tongue-in-cheek, that’s part of his goal – to make the process not just bearable, but fun. By taking cocas out of the realm of ultra-serious, your salespeople will see them as less threatening and, hopefully, conduct more of them.

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