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A word about cold calling

January 18, 2013

Many people still believe in the old tried and true methods of getting in front of prospects, physical cold calling.   While I think that there is a value to cold calling, I personally think that it does not yield the best results.   

My family and I had a business where we had our office in a big office park.   We were often the target of a walk in prospecting and my thought on prospecting was always a little miffed to think that someone walking in off the street thought little of my valuable time and would actually think that I would interrupt what I was doing to come listen to them.  I had a very good gatekeeper that would make these prospects sit for a good 15 minutes before telling them that I was just too busy, that maybe it would be good if they made an appointment next time to assure them the time with me.   Little did they know that the same gatekeeper would not let them set an appointment with me because when they called, she always said that I was busy, took a message and then passed it along to me.  It was virtually impossible to get in front of me and that is how I liked it.   In the eight years that we operated the company, I am not sure that I ever really let the guard down.   My parents on the other hand were much more gullible and would often listen to cold callers and then try to talk to me about why we should be doing business with these salespeople.

With the price of gas approaching the $3.00 range, to go out and cold calling to drive around for an hour and hit 5 prospects only to be shut down by the gatekeeper seems like a waste of time and energy.  Is there a better way?

I personally think that telephone prospecting is much more cost effective and is actually more effective then in person cold calling.  Using my company as an example,  what did those prospects really get from prospecting my business?   My name, maybe the gatekeepers name?  Those can both be obtained over the phone and in a much easier fashion.  The only benefit to the person being in the office in person versus on the phone is that they have a visual picture of the office, the surroundings and the people (the gatekeeper and perhaps the executive) but that is all.

So, if you are going to be doing some prospecting over the phone I suggest that your goal should be to set an appointment with the prospect, but if that isn’t feasible then talking to the gatekeeper, try to get as much information as possible – such as if they use your product or service, the best time to talk to them, their email address, who they currently use for your product or service.  Anything that you can find out will be a plus.   Follow that up with an email and reference the gatekeeper, if not an email a letter.  Be sure to include the gatekeeper and reference the conversation that you had as a point of reference.   What I think that you will find is that you can probably prospect many more people over the phone then in person but be equally as effective.   There are sometimes when your business that you are prospecting doesn’t have a gatekeeper and you can find it pretty easy  to get to the decision maker or executive.  Could be that there is a better time then others too to get to the decision maker.   These are exceptions to the rule and sometimes you will have to experiment to find what the winning combination will be.

I guess my lesson is to be aware of the true cost and effectiveness in prospecting, experiment to find what yields the best results for you and travel down that path.   Times are changing, so what worked before may not necessarily work now.   Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb and get out of your comfort zone – remember if you do what you always have done, you will get what you always have gotten.

Good luck in prospecting and thanks for visiting The Sales Plan.  Be sure to subscribe so that you get automatic updates.

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