Let’s Talk About Cold Calling
Last year we were approached by a large company that is a seller and provider of professional advice within the financial services market. A top company sales executive shared with me that the company was finding it necessary to reach out to and cold call upon CFOs within their market with whom they had never done business with before. But, he then shared that the real problem was not talking to the CFO, but getting through the secretary (or another gatekeeper) to get an audience with the target CFO. He asked if we could create and run a hands-on training session for the company sales force on successful techniques for cold calling and engaging gatekeepers—one in the same as it turns out. We prepared and conducted a successful, interactive training session late last year.
We found that our session and discussions ultimately revolved around what we call: the three truths about cold calling. What are they? Glad you asked!
- The person on the other end of the phone is just as reluctant and scared as you are. They seem to have all of the power, but they actually do not. Here’s why…
- They are insecure with your presence or arrival. They do not know who you are or what you represent—we are all skeptical and cautious of the unknown.
- You are likely getting in the way of them doing something that is likely both important and in whose outcome they are confident—classic impatience and anxiety. Instead, they are talking to a stranger who may be wasting their time. (What do they say—you have 10 seconds to make your point?)
- You are asking them to take a risk for which they may not be rewarded. “So let’s see: you want me to tell my boss to speak with someone I do not know or trust?…I don’t think so!”
- If you cannot get the person on the phone to like and trust you (in about 2-5 minutes), you are sunk.How do you warm up that call?
- Let’s get personal—state your name and company immediately;
- Ask for the person’s help (always a great ice breaker);
- Establish that you belong in the same office with the CFO, or that you have been working with a known colleague or friend recently;
- Create a bond—who told you to call?
- Establish why you are not a risk to them or the next person to whom you may speak. (“I have been in this field for 27 years and I have grandchildren!”)
- Be ready for the unexpected. Have you ever had the President pick up the phone when you expected to talk to the switchboard or secretary? You had better be ready—need I say more?
As we discussed and validated the three above truths during our training session, we also made sure that all members of the client sales force had a chance to practice cold-calling techniques in a group setting and with immediate feedback from peers. The session was both productive and fun. Try it yourself.
Is your sales force increasingly required to cold call and do they do it well? To learn more about our cold-calling training and group-learning program, please call or contact us at www.wilkeningco.com or 847-823-5090.