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Be Productive when Cold Calling

29 Mar, 2007 By: Howard Meltzer imageSource

Be Productive when Cold Calling

When I make the following statement to a dealer’s sales manager or owner
saying, “cold calling is the least productive use of time,” I prepare to perform
CPR before we can continue. I soon add that the reason is NOT because I think
reps shouldn’t cold call, but because most of them don’t know how to do it well.

Most sales reps phone (or even walk into) an office and ask the receptionist for the name
of the decision maker for network output devices or document management
software, disguising the fact that they sell copiers. However, this is precisely
how we don’t want to start!  Why?  Most people in “IT” do not,  and will not,
initiate change. They are by definition, reactive not proactive. Which is
precisely why HP owns 83 percent of market share - no one gets fired for buying
more HP products.

What reps should do, instead, is ask for the person in charge of making the financial decisions as it
pertains to office products, such as copiers, printers and facsimile equipment.
For new reps, cold calling, either by phone or visit, has additional advantages
because they learn:

  • Their territory - manufacturers or service-based companies? Metro or rural?
  • They soon learn how their competition operates
  • They quickly learn how to think fast on their feet

Professional Cold Calls

The initial objective is to structure
each contact with a call-to-action that will get you in front of the targeted
manager with your message.  Here’s how when phoning:

Introduce yourself and simply ask,  “Who is in
charge of making financial decisions for office products such as copiers,
printers and facsimile equipment?” When the receptionist gives you the name,
shift immediately to your  “call to action”  of,  “I realize I don’t yet have an
appointment with Mr. Right, but I would like to at least introduce myself and my
company. If you wouldn’t mind, I’d appreciate you connecting me.” The
receptionist will likely transfer the call.  There are two reasons:

1. The receptionist position usually has the
highest turnover in most companies. They’re usually new and inexperienced and
don’t know who or what they should, or should not do.

2. Receptionists are used to taking
orders and direction. They don’t manage people and they do what they are asked
to do. So, when you use your call-to-action effectively, you improve your
positive response rate. The receptionist will likely transfer the call only four
out of ten times, and the targeted prospect will only come out one out of ten
times. That’s better than zero odds, but to increase the odds sales reps must
handle the most common objection by the receptionist who says, “We’re simply not
interested.” A rep’s warm-up response could be, “I can appreciate that Mr. Smith
is not interested today, but I would like to take a minute of his time to just
introduce myself to help establish interest for when I do call back later on.
Please allow me to simply ask if might have the opportunity to soon compete for
your business with a cost-saving solution.”

If the person you are seeking does give you the
opportunity to discuss your business, do use a strong opening statement, or what
I like to refer to as,  The  Texas-size Benefit Opening: “If I could, would you
want to...?”  or even, “We’re in the business of...and have exactly what you

Example: “We’re in the business of helping customers like you increase productivity while offering
greater reliability, often  saving you and your clients money. May I take  two
minutes of your time to tell you how I can help you and your company profit?

Cold calling has its place. When you're ready to
turn cold calls into slam dunks, do your homework on the person you are calling
before you pick up the phone. Try using this personalized approach to help
increase the odds.

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