ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Cold Calling Sales Sins to Avoid

Updated on November 23, 2014
heidithorne profile image

Heidi Thorne is an author and business speaker specializing in sales and marketing topics for coaches, consultants and solopreneurs.

Source

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.

Use the "cloverleaf" prospecting strategy carefully to prevent it from becoming unlucky for sales!
Use the "cloverleaf" prospecting strategy carefully to prevent it from becoming unlucky for sales! | Source

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

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I've done it back in my salesman days, and for me it never got easier. I literally hate cold-calling. LOL However, these are excellent points, but that's no surprise coming from you.

    • Shawn McIntyre profile image

      Shawn McIntyre 2 years ago from Orlando, FL.

      Man the flashbacks. I remember back in college listening to Zig Ziglar cassettes (I still have "Secrets of Closing the Sale" on my desk), and going to Tom Hopkins lectures.

      Another great article.

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 2 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Cold calling is really hard. The success rate is just pathetic. I remember when I have to sift through tons of calls without success. It can be heartbreaking.

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 2 years ago from Philippines

      I could sympathize with the unpleasant experiences you mention. Things have changed a lot these days. I remember going from door to door selling girl scout cookies, and also I remember the Avon Lady going from door to door, making people happy by putting make up on them. Nowadays, sadly, thieves come in many colors and it's hard to trust just anyone who comes knocking on your door. Even if the person is a genuine salesperson, the manner is very intrusive now as there are other ways to sell more conveniently for both sides.

    • heidithorne profile image
      Author

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Yep, billybuc, cold calling NEVER gets easier. I don't think it's because we're afraid to approach new people, a reason that has been often identified for low results. In our personal realms, we wouldn't dream of walking up to every person who attends a party, church service, etc. and starting a sales conversation. Yet we justify doing it for sales in the name of making a living. With so many other ways to connect these days, this is one way that can go the way of the dinosaur. Thanks for adding your experience to the conversation! Have a great week!

    • heidithorne profile image
      Author

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Shawn, sorry to cause flashbacks! :) Although all the sales masters have taught us a lot (I listened to most of Brian Tracy's stuff, plus a few others), some of the dated techniques have got to go. Hope your week is successful!

    • heidithorne profile image
      Author

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Got that right, jpcmc! For me, the low success rate is main reason to NOT cold call. I think a lot of people need to feel that they're doing something... even if it isn't successful. Sad indeed. But hope your upcoming week is full of success and happiness!

    • heidithorne profile image
      Author

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Hello grand old lady! I never did the Girl Scout thing, but did accompany my mom on some charity solicitations. And the Avon ladies used to be welcome in many homes. It is very intrusive and, as you note, we're living in a different society. Thanks for adding these experiences to the conversation! Have a lovely week!

    • flyfishmaine profile image

      Richard Scott 2 years ago from Presque Isle, Maine

      Heidi: Excellent presentation of the door to door cold call. Having done sales for years your sins section is right on. The person making this call was NOT a professional sales person.

    • heidithorne profile image
      Author

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Hi flyfishmaine! Yep, all of us in sales can relate. Definitely not professional-or profitable!-behavior. Hope things are good up there in Maine. Thanks for stopping by & have a great week!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Yes! I've even had them watch me struggle with groceries in my hand as I told them "no" then they followed me up the driveway (what part of no didn't they understand?). Terrific example and analysis. Voted up and sharing!

    • heidithorne profile image
      Author

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Oh no, FlourishAnyway! Juggling groceries? Really? You should have asked them to help you carry them to the door. Ha! :) Thanks for adding that tidbit to the conversation... and for your sharing and support! Have a terrific day!

    • Jeannieinabottle profile image

      Jeannie InABottle 2 years ago from Baltimore, MD

      I've noticed sales people are getting more and more aggressive. I've actually had to call security a couple of times to get rid of sales people at my office. Apparently telling someone "we are not interested, there's no soliciting in this building, and I am calling security" is not even enough anymore. And the phone calls... oh, the phones! At home and at work! It gets worse each day!

    • KawikaChann profile image

      KawikaChann 2 years ago from Northwest, Hawaii, Anykine place

      Ugh... cold calls, hated giving them almost as much as receiving them. Script helps, but still can't stand the initial - why the heck are you calling me for???? lol... good times... Upvoted/useful/follow. Peace. Kawi.

    • heidithorne profile image
      Author

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Jeannieinabottle, cold calling on businesses is so old school and so unacceptable these days! Unfortunately, businesses aren't often protected by the same "no soliciting" regulations that regular citizens are. So developing strategies for dealing with them in the office or on the phone is so necessary to keep them from overtaking your day. Thanks for adding that angle to the conversation! Have a great day!

    • heidithorne profile image
      Author

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Hi KawikaChann! Indeed, scripting can help for cold or even warmer sales calls. But, you're right, the initial resistance needs to be overcome and in a way that politely and professionally connects with the prospect. Thanks for adding your experience to the conversation! Have a beautiful day!

    • epbooks profile image

      Elizabeth Parker 2 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Another wonderful hub. I had two alarm salesmen/scammer at my door when I came back from a walk with my 3 dogs. They were highly aggressive in their pitch and would not leave- even telling me they needed to come in my house and check my alarm. Thankfully, my alarm company sent out a mailer warning us about this. I was almost going to call the cops because of their heavy persistence!!

    • heidithorne profile image
      Author

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Ugh! What an annoyance. Lucky for you, Elizabeth, you had your furry "security" team with you! ;) Thanks for adding this story to the conversation. Have a terrific weekend ahead!

    Click to Rate This Article