I’ve been told that cold calling is dead in Japan but I’m here to tell you that it’s very much alive in the United States. I believe that the effectiveness of a phone call has increased in direct proportion to the amount of unsolicited e-mail sent, and that’s a lot! Most people avoid rejection, and let me be clear, if you cold call you will experience rejection. Some people take it personally but for better or worse, e-mail is impersonal so a lot of salespeople prefer to hide behind the anonymity of the Internet. However, if you’re willing to take the risk, cold calling can be very rewarding.
There are multiple ways to cold call, so let me be clear what I’m referring to. In my book, cold calling is picking up the phone and calling someone you’ve never met before but whose needs you’ve prequalified and who in your estimation can benefit from what you are promoting.
A cold call is only as effective as your ability to answer these questions:
Who buys your product?
What similar things are they purchasing?
Why do they purchase it?
When and how do they make those purchases?
In other words, the “warmer” you can make your “cold” call, the more success you’ll have. Do your homework. Know as much about your prospect as possible. Know the product or service you’re selling and how it benefits your prospect.
American companies have become very lean in the past ten years. These days, most companies have fewer employees and those employees have broader responsibilities than in the past. That means people have less time to waste on unsolicited calls. I have a 20-second rule. If I can’t capture the prospect’s attention in the first 20 seconds of the phone call, I never will.
Putting together a short, concise, effective introduction is hard. Delivering it is even harder. For a non-native English speaker, working in a foreign culture, it is next to impossible.
Developing a good 20-second pitch requires knowing what to say, how to say it, and who to say it to. But that is only half the task. Engaging your prospect in a non-threatening way to maximize the potential for developing a long-term relationship is the other half.
For those of us who use cold calling as a valuable sales tool on a regular basis, these obstacles are simply puzzle pieces that need to be fit together. It’s big challenge and like all challenges, the bigger it is, the greater the reward!