It’s common for salespeople and often sales trainers to claim that the cold call is dead. Cold calls simply don’t work. It is an outdated prospecting activity that has been swallowed up in a sea of unwanted calls. In many cases, they are right. Salespeople that start a cold call with “Can I speak to the person in charge of . . .”, “Hi, how are you today?”, or “Is this a bad time?” will find cold calling is a low yield prospecting activity. However, in almost every industry, there are sales professionals that use cold calling effectively and generate sizable revenue from it. Cold calls do work, but only if they are done right and done consistently.
Many salespeople are forced into cold calling. They try to finish the activity as quickly as possible and avoid it whenever possible. In this case, their tonality tips the prospect off immediately. Prospect’s sense fear as well as any dog. They hear the fear and immediately treat the call like most cold calls. They view us as a pest and look to get off the phone as soon as possible. This means they will lie and be rude if necessary. This is where the myth that cold calling doesn’t work proliferates. The dejected salesperson says to themselves, “This is a total waste of time. No one is interested in what I have to say if I call them cold.” The fact is that it isn’t working because the salesperson is bad at it. It would be like a person playing golf for the first time. After hitting the ball four feet, 5 times straight, they declare that it’s not possible for anyone to get to the green. Clearly, that’s absurd. Not only is it possible for someone to get to the green, it’s possible for that player to do it. It just takes determination, learning, and practice. Cold calls are no different. If they are done sporadically and avoided, the salesperson will never get good at them.
So what makes cold calls effective? Three things. The first is getting the prospect out of their normal role. Find a way to be different from all the other “How are you today?” calls. It keeps the prospect on their toes and out of the “get off the phone” mode. The second is to know what you are going to say and have a structure to say it. However, you structure your call, it should get the prospect involved. You have 5 seconds to say something relevant before they will tune you out. The last and final thing is working on your tonality. This is the biggest factor in cold calling success. Confidence and competence travel through the phone even better than fear does. A good phone presence can carry a lot of weight.
The trouble with cold calling, like golf, is that subtle changes make vast differences. If you don’t know how to improve, you can’t get better. If you don’t know how to proceed find a coach. There are trainers, books, and audio material available to help you along the way. If you use these and practice your technique, you will find that cold calls can be a valuable asset to your prospecting activities.
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