-by Shamus Brown
This week's article is my response to a question by Lisa Boudreau of ePresence.
"I cold call into Fortune 1000 companies, often times the admin will tell me to send the CIO, or whoever I'm calling, an email about who we are and what we do. I tend to think of emails as a last ditch effort, but others think they are a good follow up to a live conversation. I'd be interested in what you think! - Lisa Boudreau, Sales Rep, ePresence Inc.
Thanks for writing in Lisa. The title I gave this article pretty much sums up what I think. When making cold calls, administrative assistants are instructed to get rid of salespeople as nicely as possible. One of the easiest ways to blow off a sales rep is to ask you to send some information, literature, or an email.
Many sales reps then think "I got one!" They believe that they have a prospect, and they put it onto their follow-up list, and they call and call again until they get through, give up, or are told to get lost. The reality is you were just told that your sales pitch didn't work. Your email, or brochure or whatever, goes into a huge pile of other solicitations, that may never get reviewed.
It's useful to think of cold-calling as advertising, only one at a time. In advertising, you are "interrupting" people with your message. By delivering it to hundreds, thousands, or millions at the same time, you can persuade a certain percentage of the people who view the ad. The people who are persuaded are those who fit the target profile that the advertiser is looking for.
Cold-calling is just like shoving a billboard in one person's face, or running a commercial for one prospect, and then asking them if they want the product. How well you do at this depends on two things. First the quality of the target list of prospects you are calling on is very important (this is akin to which freeway you post your billboard on, or which TV show you run your commercial on). When you have the right target list, the next element under your control is the effectiveness of your message at getting the prospect's attention.
The reason why I use the advertising analogy is that when cold-calling we are an interruption, until we have the prospect's attention and the permission to probe further and ask questions. When we fail at this, prospect's nicely ask us to "send info please".
To improve the effectiveness of your message, I advise you to focus on using prominent customer references with benefits centered around revenue increases, cost reductions, or efficiency gains in your cold-calling approach. Combine this with effective prospect targeting and some persuasive questioning techniques and you will get through to more decision-makers.
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