Dissecting the Successful Cold Call

by Valerie Schlitt, President of VSA, Inc.

When you’re the one who receives the cold call, what is the sales person doing to create success?

Introduction You’re deep into your work and the phone rings. Someone wants to sell you something. You think to yourself, ‘Another sales person? Talking to this person is the last thing I want to do right now,’ and you begin to hang up.

Analysis: Less than 25% – and more like 10% – of cold calls reach the decision maker on a single try. Equally importantly, recipients never expect a cold call and want to end the call almost immediately.

It is critical that the sales person be respectful and quickly present a compelling statement about why they are calling, without being too eager.

Conversation The sales person starts talking about something you’ve already been thinking about, or something you might actually want to learn more about.

Analysis: About 20% of decision makers will have an interest in continuing a conversation. The best prospects are familiar with the product or service and already want to buy it. But, a good caller can also pique the interest of those who ‘might’ have a need.

An overly-persistent caller will annoy those with no interest, denigrate the brand, and waste time.

Conversation, continued While you’re interested, this is just not the right time. Besides, you need some proof the company is legitimate before you agree to meet. You ask for more information.

Analysis: About 90% of decision makers who ask for more information simply want to get off the phone. A good sales person can tell when the decision maker might have true interest. Otherwise, sending more information is a waste of time and money.

Conversation, continued You and the sales person talk a bit about your needs. The sales person learns that you are involved in the decision making process.

Analysis: Yes, all good sales people ask for the appointment first. No experienced cold caller resorts immediately to ‘sending more information.’ However, despite what some sales courses say, often a decision maker requires documentation before agreeing to a meeting.

The sales person always tries to send information directly to the decision maker and not to an assistant or secretary. (Sometimes the gatekeeper is the only way in the door, however.)

Email This sales person sends you a professional email, from an account that is not Yahoo or Hotmail and attaches a professionally created PDF. A website address is included.

Analysis: A generic email address is an automatic red flag. Companies who do not have web sites, likewise, reduce their credibility.

Conversation, continued The sales person calls you back, at the agreed upon time. This time, you pick up the phone and are ready to talk. The sales person references prior notes, showing they remember you.

Analysis: Who knows? You might become a client.

What went right?

1) Got quickly to the point, so you didn’t hang up first. 2) Asked questions to confirm that you were truly interested. 3) Confirmed that you had decision making authority. 4) Set a specific time to call you back. 5) Acted respectfully and professionally.

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