Cold Calling Sales Sins to Avoid
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Putting the Cold in Cold Calling
Talk about having a cold one... cold sales call that is! Check this story.
It's spring and while the landscapers were doing seasonal yard cleanup, I decided to walk the dogs who were antsy from being stuck in the house. So as I'm returning from the trek with my girl dog and am about a half block away, I notice that there are two people standing in front of my house: a guy dressed in business casual and a gal sporting a utility worker vest. I'm thinking, "Uh oh, are the landscapers doing something they shouldn't and the village is out to cite me?"
So I ask these folks, "Can I help you?" They introduce themselves as being from Such-and-Such cable company. Oooookay... and...? They go on to tell me that they're now serving our area and can save me some money. Then the rapid fire questions:
Are you using so-and-so competitor cable company?
And what are you paying a month?
Whoa! Slow your roll! They're asking this while I'm trying to settle down an excited 70-pound dog and open my garage. But it continues...
Your neighbors Joe and Mary (not their real names and not people I even know anyway) are using our Such-and-Such service and paying less than $X dollars a month.
I quickly told them that was around what I was paying with their competitor.
And is that for all your cable, Internet and phone?
Dear God! Are we having an official sales call? So I tell them that I'm using their competitor, but that I do use their Such-and-Such company for other services which garners this response as one of them checks a folder.
You must be Heidi.
Really? You're confirming who I am after all that? I finally got the garage open and told them to leave some info since I needed to get going.
The garage closes and so does their sales opportunity.
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Autopsy of a Dead Cold Call
At some point in every sales career, there's going to be times when cold calling may be required to enter new sales territories or market segments. But there are just some sales sins that are unacceptable when attempting to reach new prospects in today's marketplace. Let's break down what broke down:
- Bad Connection. Notice that the salespeople didn't explain their connection with me until their time with me was almost ended. Since I was already in their customer database, it would have been better for them to open with thanking me for being a Such-and-Such company customer and inquiring if I knew about their new expanded service. For less direct connection, let an wary prospect know what brought you to their door, telephone, email, etc. Don't even have the remotest of connections? At least tell them why you selected them as prospects which, we would hope, is not because you're too lazy to do research and just decided to wander up and down the block ringing doorbells (or up and down a list ringing telephones). Proximity does not automatically equal possibility.
- Unwanted, Unannounced and Untimely. The very definition of a cold call is that it is not a requested contact. I was definitely not in a position to meet with these folks and had no interest in speaking with them anyway. If I wanted to change my cable service, I would have preferred to contact them first. I would venture to say that most customers are that way these days because the next vendor is only a click away on the Internet. That's why inbound marketing strategies are gaining ground in today's marketplace.
- In Your Face, Literally. Door-to-door cold calling is perhaps the most unnerving contact for prospects, especially for homes. They feel violated. Even if the seller has approval from the local government offices to approach the community, it is less acceptable in today's society due to heightened security concerns everywhere. And in this instance, there were two people descending on my house. Even more unsettling. On the flip side, it's time consuming for sellers to make physical door-to-door calls which can reduce sales productivity.
- Unlucky Cloverleaf. When the salespeople referred to neighbors "Joe and Mary," I could tell they were using something that's commonly referred to as the "cloverleaf" door-to-door selling strategy. Here's how it works. The company is doing work for one house. Then the company will either drop off information or actually cold call the houses to the right and left of the house served, as well as a few directly across the street, creating a "cloverleaf" of contact points. The theory is that referring to customers whom the prospect might know, like and trust can help decrease resistance. It is hoped that the prospect will think, "Well, if Joe and Mary are using XYZ Company, it's good for me, too." This technique can boomerang if a prospect does not know or like the neighbors mentioned. Since I don't know the neighbors mentioned, it didn't work on me. That being said, it doesn't hurt to drop off information at nearby prospects with a note indicating that the company is serving neighbors (unnamed) in the area and invite prospects to contact for more information.
Need more convincing? Click here to read why cold calling is dying and what that means for sales.
Disclaimer: Any examples used are for illustrative purposes only and do not suggest affiliation or endorsement. The author/publisher has used best efforts in preparation of this article. No representations or warranties for its contents, either expressed or implied, are offered or allowed and all parties disclaim any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for your particular purpose. The advice, strategies and recommendations presented herein may not be suitable for you, your situation or business. Consult with a professional adviser where and when appropriate. The author/publisher shall not be liable for any loss of profit or any other damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages. So by reading and using this information, you accept this risk.
© 2014 Heidi Thorne