When I ask sales leaders if their people make Cold Calls, I feel like an evangelist for a lost cause. Often, the person sitting across from me looks as if they just bit into a lemon.
“Oh… we don’t do that…”.
My curiosity gets the best of me. “Really?” I ask. “You don’t call people who might need your product/service and have a conversation with them?”
Of course there are reasons.
- “Our business is complicated.”
- “We are focused on Social Selling.”
- “Our customers don’t like Cold Calls.”
- “My team is too experienced for that.”
These days it seems salespeople will do anything to avoid making Cold Calls but I don’t believe you can succeed without the willingness and ability to use an age old proven approach to create a human-to-human connection.
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Part of the challenge is due to a misconception of exactly what we mean when we say “Cold Call.”
Cold Calling conjures the image of an unwelcome dinnertime interruption perpetrated by some pushy huckster who won’t stop talking.
Our perception of Cold Calling has been shaped by movies like The Wolf of Wall Street, Boiler Room, and Glengarry Glen Ross if you are old enough.
A Cold Call is the simply the act of turning an interruption into a scheduled conversation. Every unscheduled phone call is considered ‘Cold’ simply by virtue of the fact that it is unexpected and has nothing to do with whether the person knows you or is receptive to your product.
To emphasize this point, consider the fact that I include unscheduled calls placed to people in the category of a Cold Call.
The purpose of a Cold Call is never to pitch an idea or sell something. The only objective is to convert the interruption into a planned for conversation. We’re calling to initiate a relationship by scheduling some time to talk.
New prospects are the lifeblood of every sales organization yet sales reps seldom invest energy in identifying new prospects preferring, instead, to ‘nurture’ the precious few in their rolodex.
Imagine panning for gold…
You extract a bucket of mud and rocks from the river and carefully sift through this to find your nuggets of gold. Instead of returning the contents of your pan to the river and refilling your bucket, you insist on returning the gold-less contents of your pan to the bucket and working through the same material over and over again, never adding even a spoonful of new mud from the river.
Like our shortsighted prospector, sales reps tend to prefer revisiting the same contacts over and over again rather than experience the discomfort associated with creating new relationships.
Imagine the impact if sales people set a goal to identify and connect with a single new prospect each week of the year. Surely this doesn’t sound like an insurmountable task.
Imagine your sales people added one new prospect every week for a full year. Let’s call this 48 weeks to account for vacation and holidays.
What would 48 prospects mean to your sales reps performance?
What would 48 new prospects per salesperson mean to your company?
Rather than something to fear and avoid, Cold Calling should be seen as a vital part of every sales organizations game plan. Without this skill and the commitment to get in front of new prospects, your team will fall victim to shifting market conditions and competitors.
What are you doing to ensure your people make Cold Calls?