Cold Calling: Are they really doing it?
On more than one occasion we have discussed the necessity and virtue of cold calling in this increasing-difficult (and here to stay) economic environment. Your goal should be to capture market share while adding enough new clients to your rosters to both grow and replace any defections you incur. [You can reasonably expect your competition to employ the same market-share sales strategy that you do.]
It is a difficult and time-consuming sales strategy to pursue, and most members of your sales force simply do not like to do it. I do not know anyone who likes to be told “No,” do you?
When a company tells its sales force to do more cold calls, it generally expects that this will be done as part of the normal and routine daily sales activity—somewhere between solving vexing and high-profile customer problems, calling upon a favorite client for lunch in a far-away place or meeting with Marketing regarding the latest in new products. In short, cold calling has a tendency to get lost in the demands of today’s clients. There are always 100 excuses—resulting in zero new customers.
We would always advise that a way to make any activity a success is to both focus and segment. If you want your sales force to be more successful at cold calling try this:
- Do not overwhelm the sales force with pages of useless (yes, useless) leads. They should always each have 2-5 active actionable and higher-potential leads that are being worked. Little ones do not count and frankly get in the way.
- Make cold calling a discrete weekly activity: “We cold call for new accounts on Tuesday!”
- The sales force needs to answer for Tuesday’s results on Wednesday.
Do not allow the day-to-day get in the way. You have a customer service group—use it to keep your sellers in the field.
- Lastly, appoint a company-wide “Executive-In-Charge” for cold calling. [An up-and-coming sales manager is a good choice.]
Is your sales force having problems getting cold-call traction? Try the above steps starting next week. Then, come back in about four weeks to assure that Cold-Call Tuesday remains in place and real results are being seen. If not, appoint a new executive-in-charge.
For more discussion of cold calling, reread our October 2009 E-Notes article entitled: Let’s talk about cold calling.