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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Cold Calls Today Can Warm Up Sales in the Future

Cold calls are a type of sales approach that most salespeople dread and which they postpone doing until the boss says, "Where are the sales?"

When the regular sales contacts have all been approached, the list of long shots is brought out and called or dropped in on.  "I was just in the neighborhood...."

In person or on the phone, the cold call begins.

You have to introduce yourself.

The listener may immediately shut down.

You have to snag some buyer interest because at the heart of what makes a sales call cold is that the buyer does not have a ready or present interest in the product you are selling.

Quick gambits might work.  Emotional appeals might work.  There is one approach that works more often than any other:  straightforward presentation of why you are either calling on the phone or standing in front of a person who has a list of work to do as long as yours.

Years ago I witnessed a young man who sold an item more unpopular than prepackaged funerals.  He sold office forms.

Forms are not discussed much in the workplace, but they come from somewhere if they are not generated in-house.

This young man visited my boss once a month, month after month, for two years.  Each month I heard my boss say, "I don't need any forms."  After the polite young man left quite politely, taking the firm no for what it was, my boss would turn to me and say,  "We have a backlog of forms, but if I ever do need forms, I'll buy them from him."

Through the years I, too, would have my version of a form to pitch to people who didn't want what I was selling.

In an economy that has dried up in some quarters there isn't as much time to spend building a reputation for reliability that might ultimately convert a series of cold calls into, finally, a sale.

But the message of that memorable encounter remains:  polite persistence is a key to turning a cold call into a sale.

In person or on the phone, the cold call won't stay cold forever if the sales representative relays the benefits of the product being sold.  Some of those benefits can't be communicated quickly in a cold call that gets shut down fast.  But the professionalism of the salesperson can be communicated and will be communicated by the way you make your cold call.  You may not sell the product that day; but, you can sell the benefits of one day working with someone who has communicated powerfully that he/she doesn't give up and knows how to respond to the word "no."   With a smile and a nod and a gentle promise of "I'll be back."

Make a cold call truthful, fast and respectful of the other person's time.  You might not make the sale that day--but you will have increased your chances of succeeding in the future. 

We all resist doing work that doesn't hold the promise of succeeding.  You can change your attitude about cold calls by taking a fresh look at what they really are:  sowing seeds of preparation that can turn a future cold call into a sale.

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