In my first sales job, I had a sales manager who said; “If prospects aren’t ringing in, then you’d better be busy ringing out!” Like so many clichés this is a half truth. Let me explain.
Which of the following most closely reflects your view?
- I hate cold calling, but I do it because it get results!
- I never cold call because it doesn’t work!
I hear some version of these beliefs from almost everyone I deal with.
I know for a fact that cold calling works as a marketing strategy, because I’ve tested it. When starting a new business I have always relied to some extent on cold calling in the beginning. It’s hard work and yields results; albeit modest ones. Once the business is up and running, I don’t have time for cold calling, so I need something better and more effective.
Also, I know a number of people who are very successful with cold calling. There are some people who love cold calling, but they are few and far between.
I dislike cold calling mostly because the reward to effort ratio is low. There are easier and more effective ways to get to talk to your prospects – so I virtually never recommend this as a strategy it to my clients.
A second drawback of cold calling is that it’s not exactly fun for you or for the prospect. Think about it, you are calling perfect strangers…interrupting busy people. They don’t like it and probably neither do you.
If 10% of your calls are answered, that means with the other 90% you never even get to first base. For every 10 people you get to speak to, nine people will reject you – right over the phone. Some will be nice about it. A few may even be mean or abusive. This inevitably affects how you feel.
Rejections are natural because people not only get interrupted but also feel pressured on the phone. This is true also for sales people. When you are pressured in the sales situation, you ask fewer questions, you make more exaggerated claims, talk faster and talk more about features than benefits. This reduces your effectiveness creating a downward spiral.
If you are in professional services, there are two other problems with cold calling as a marketing strategy.
First, it violates the “Busy Doctor Syndrome.” The “Busy Doctor Syndrome” says that people would rather hire those professionals that they perceive as busy and successful. They do not want to hire those who appear desperate and in need of work.
So, if you are sitting on the phone cold calling prospects, how busy and successful does this make you appear to them?
Most people would agree that if you have time to cold call you are not likely very busy. A large number of professionals have difficulty charging full price for what they sell. Prospects generally pay premium prices for the following reasons:
- They need what you are selling.
- They will pay more if your product or service is perceived as exclusive and or difficult to get.
- They believe what you are selling is in short supply and that if they do not act quickly, it will be snapped up by others and therefore will not be available to them or anyone else.
When you cold call, you lose your exclusivity and you show that what you are offering is not in short supply. If either of these was true you wouldn’t be cold calling.
I believe it is better to get prospects to come to YOU, than for YOU to go to prospects.
Cold calling does the opposite of this. So what marketing can you use to get people to call you or to visit your web site?
Most of the things I teach in Rapid Growth Mentoring Program; referrals, joint ventures, direct mail, e-mail marketing, and becoming recognised as an expert in your field.
Giving seminars and speeches or writing articles for publications read by your potential clients or even writing your own booklets and publications are all very effective tools to position yourself as an expert and to attract new clients and prospects.
When someone who is a subscriber to your e-newsletter or has read something you’ve written or is referred to you, comes to you for help, you are negotiating from a position of strength – because after all they came to you.
If someone approaches you after a speech at a conference, says they loved your speech and asks about engaging your firm’s services, you are in a position of strength. After all, they see you as the expert … and they came to you, rather than you going to them. I usually find it very easy to close sales with people who approach me after a speech.
You can do this too; there are lots of conferences all over the country. The organizers are all looking for experts to speak to their attendees. If you can help them they will put you in front of 100’s of qualified prospects you might never reach by cold calling. They are attending the conference because they are looking for help and information. If you provide what they think they need, you have a great shot at their business.