Saturday, November 15, 2008

What Exactly Qualifies as a Cold Call?

One of the most talked about subjects in sales is cold calling. While I've read hundreds of articles on the subject, I don't ever recall anyone clearly defining what exactly qualifies as a cold call. When I researched the definition on the internet, I found the following definition - "A telephone call or visit made to someone who is not known or not expecting contact, often in order to sell something".

In order to understand cold calling, don't you think it would be important to know exactly what would be considered a cold call? Even among experts, I still believe their is much debate. For instance, would a customer who has not purchased anything for several years be considered a cold call if he or she was contacted? Would a prospect who has been confirmed to be a purchaser of your types of products or services within your industry qualify as a cold call?

Again, these are all great questions and the "cold call" in the subject of cold calling is rarely defined. I decided to put together a short list below to describe what I believe would qualify and would not qualify as a cold call. Here is my expanded definition.

What qualifies as a cold call:

1) Calling on anyone in which you have no idea if they need your products or services.

2) Calling on anyone who is a former customer that has not purchased from your company in over a year (this only applies if you have not met the customer before and you are unknown to them).

3) Calling on anyone who has been confirmed to be a user of your types of products or services but you as a salesperson are unknown to them; These prospects will remain in this "bucket" of classification until you become known to them.

4) Calling on anyone who has been referred to you but the referring party was not used in any capacity to make the initial contact.

Here is what I believe would not qualify as a cold call:

1) Calling on anyone in your customer database that is presently a purchasing customer of your company's products or services but you as a salesperson are still unknown to them.

2) Calling on anyone in which you are a known salesperson (even if they are not presently purchasing your products or services).

3) Calling on anyone who initially contacted you first for an inquiry on your products or services or subsequently contacted you after you made a cold call on them.

4) Calling on anyone who was referred to you but the referring party makes the initial introduction or first contact on your behalf.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is likely that at some point you will have to pick up the phone and attempt to convince strangers of the strength of your product or service. It’s a business fact of life, but inevitably, so is getting rejected – cold calling gets around a 5% success rate if done very well - so the most important thing to do is develop a thick skin.

Cold calling is not all about making an instant sale. It can often be used for gathering information, or trying to arrange a meeting, so launching straight in with the breathless description of your product may not be the right approach. Calling to confirm names, titles and contact details can be a good way to start. You get information confirmed, and you might be able to take it further.

If cold calling isn’t something that comes naturally, then consider a script. But be very careful - sounding like you’re reading from a piece of paper is off-putting to the person on the other end of the line, as you probably know from being cold called yourself. Perhaps a better way of using a script is to remind you of the points you need to make, rather than be a word for word recital tool. You have to be able to be flexible, and listen to the needs of the person you’re calling.

You will get people who put the phone down straight away (don’t you do that occasionally?) but don’t be scared of this outcome or let it get to you when it does happen. It’s not personal. Keep calm and smile, and this will come though in your voice and make people more receptive. Monitor your success rate and attempt to strategically perfect your approach.

If you ask for information by using open questions, and keep your voice friendly and inquisitive, you’re more likely to get people’s interest. The aggressive sale usually won’t work in this context because people are so wary of cold calls.

Offer meeting times if it looks like you won’t be able to make a sale, and confirm in writing.

Check out