To Cold Call or Not to Cold Call?

Cold Calling or ProspectingThe subject of cold calling raised its head again recently. This time it was over at Birds on the Blog where regular visitors here will know I’m a contributing author.

The whole post made almost my blood boil, yet again. Not because of the stance Tessa (the post’s author) took or the content of the post, which I felt was well reasoned. What came across to me, in both the post and the comments, was the fact that it is somehow felt to be more personally offensive when these calls are made to small companies or sole traders by small companies or sole traders – to the likes of you and me by us.

Let’s separate the “offenders” out into two groups:

  1. Sole Traders/ independent consultants or Owners of micro or small businesses who are currently the main (or only) person responsible for bringing in and growing the business
  2. Micro or small businesses where there’s one or more dedicated sales or telephone sales persons

In either case, if the task is being handled successfully, it’s probably also being carried out reasonably professionally so there’s no problem. If it’s not, the best solutions are likely to be very different in scenarios 1 and 2.

Scenario 1
There are many ways to bring in profitable new business – none “right” or “wrong” – and it’s often down to a certain amount of trial and error to find what mix works best in each company, economic situation and industry, to name but three likely contributing factors.

Do you know what activities work best for you?

  • What are they?
  • What have you tried so far?
  • How regularly do you do them?
  • How good are you at doing them?
  • How do their results compare?
  • Do they include cold calling?

If your answer is “I don’t really know” then you need to take a deep breath and start finding out – fast.

Your choice regarding cold calling is DIY or get someone else to do it.

I know you have all aspects of the business to run and might well be tempted to go for the second option but be aware that you cannot expect to successfully employ someone either in-house or as an outsourced resource for cold calling without having researched your potential market sufficiently to have at least established your actual target market, the decision makers within it and their hot buttons.

If you know what works and feel your value is now best focused on prospect and customer meetings and delivery of offer, then you should be in a position to set fair and reasonable targets for someone else to do the cold calling bit.

Scenario 2
A dedicated telesales or sales person who isn’t reaching target.

Firstly you, the boss, have to take responsibility for whether your company’s service(s) and/ or product(s)

  • Have a market that needs and appreciates them
  • Are fairly and competitively priced for that market
  • Deliver on your promise

If the answer is “yes” the next questions are:

  • Does the employee have the necessary product service knowledge to do the job?
  • Does the employee know how/ where to access the target market (company & / or individual contact details)?
  • Does the employee have the skills to get through to decision makers and make effective calls?
  • Does the employee know the “hot buttons”?
  • Does the employee have the will to make the calls? (I’m not being funny here, I remember a client whose “keen as mustard” employee was actually using every excuse in the book not to even try because he was actually useless and bone idle!

Let’s put this in perspective
The telephone is just a tool. It’s neutral. As with any tool it’s the skill of the operator/ user that makes the crucial difference. If you’re one who thinks that all cold calling is bad cold calling, have you ever entertained the thought that it could actually be quite pleasurable once you know how? 😉

Linda Mattacks - Small Business Training

PS If your business is struggling, why not pick up the phone for a chat on how we can help you turn that around?

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2 Responses to “To Cold Call or Not to Cold Call?”

  1. Hi Tessa

    Thanks for contributing here.

    Heaven help us if we become wary of answering our own phones because of lousy/ rude/ verging on threatening people – I’m not kidding, I’ve fended off the lot – making bad cold calls to us and showing zero respect for our time or needs.

    I totally understand your approach to attracting business: You are operating from your own experience and the results of your tried and tested activities. And it’s interesting that your choices as being (for you)immensely preferable to cold calling, might seem monumental and really scary to others:

    Andy Lopata’s book ‘and Death Came Third’ is about networking yet also refers to the fact that more people are afraid of public speaking than dying!

    It’s definitely ‘horses for courses’ and the horse and course will be chosen largely by:

    * How good we are at the specific activity
    * The results it gets us
    * How much we enjoy it

    … and they’re all interconnected.

    Thanks again for being a good sport! :-)

  2. Hi, I am the author of the Birds post referred to. My dislike of cold calling is becuase I resent being rung up by someone out of the blue and asked to buy something. My fault I suppose for answering my own telephone.

    My marketing is mostly content marketing via my blog which works very well. Also I speak at events, write articles for people when they want it and ALWAYS speak to the press when they call.

    Those have generaly worked well for me. I have a not particuarly brilliant telephone manner and would make a rubbish telesales person anyway!

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