I have been in B2B technology sales and marketing for over 20 years and in executive management for 15 years. With a great deal of amusement, I read many articles, blogs, posts and comments in discussion groups about the futility of cold calling in our digital age.
When I discuss proposed strategies and tactics with sales and marketing teams, I always ask one simple question. What do you do when you receive that kind of email, see that kind of ad, get invited to such and such kind of Webinar, etc.? How do you react to a sales call?
Professionals freeze in their tracks at this question. “So, let me understand, marketing representative, you would delete the kind of email you are proposing without even opening it, but you expect it to be of interest to the EVP of Sales & Marketing at Company Z?”
So it is with the cold call. Savvy sales reps know that if they call me early in the morning or a little bit after hours, I will be eyeballing the caller ID on my desk phone after my admin has left for the day.
The cold call begins with the Caller ID.
Let’s be frank. At 6 PM as my office phone continues to ring, I’m really keeping my eyes peeled for my boss’s name. If the call is from an outside party, what your phone number looks like really counts. If these words show up on my screen, I am absolutely not going to lift the handset: “Wireless caller,” “Out of area,” “No name,” “Unidentified Caller,” “800 Service,” “Toll Free Call,” and, of course, “Unknown Caller.” Now, if I see “Imperial Tec Co,” I might not recognize the company, but, vaguely intrigued, if I’m not buried in some project, I will probably pick up.
What happens in the next 15-20 seconds is critical. If I hear “satellite static” and a pause – I will gently put the telephone handset back in its cradle. I’m not interested in straining my ears with an unknown VoIP connection with half the data bits being dumped on the floor in a series of outer space comm links at 6 PM. It’s already been a long day.
Now, let’s say I hear, “Hi Steve, this is Jack Benson with Imperial Tech, how are you?” with a nice domestic land line quality connection. I’m already on the defensive, but I am listening. “Busy, Jack, what can I do for you???,” I reply politely, but crisply.
Now, here is where the rubber hits the road.
If Jack starts in telling me all about Imperial Technologies and how they are the leader in XYZ providing some product Q that Jack just knows I will be interested in . . . Jack is dead.
“Look Jack, I don’t have time – call my admin in the morning and send her an email.” “Thanks.” I hang up.
That’s if I’m in a really good mood.
Let’s try this again.
“High Steve, this is Jack Benson from Imperial Tech.” “We would like to invite you to an event!”
In those few seconds, my blood pressure has dropped because Jack has already diffused my having to buffet his sales call.
“Steve, normally, we send out emails for this, but we realize folk most of the time don’t even read them, so, we’re trying the personal approach . . . Imperial Tech is the leader in XYZ and we’re doing a series of teleseminars on topic H this month and we’re hoping this might be of interest to you . . .”
Now, Jack has already done his research. He knows my line of business. He knows (just by my title) what kind of organizational role I play at my company and he knows in advance that I will probably be interested in hearing more about the topic.
“Jack, yes, call my admin in the morning, and have her put it on my calendar – I’ll let her know we spoke.”
Jack has accomplished a lot with his cold call. Imperial Tech will be presenting information on a topic that I want to keep up to speed on and of course, they will be able to do their commercial about why they have the best solution to whatever business challenge they are going to be talking about. When they follow up, I will have already given their offer some thought and perhaps even done a little research if the topic was really on point.
No one is going to buy anything on a cold call. If you are a technology vendor selling complex products or services to other businesses, you just want to start the dialog.
There is nothing better than a personal touch amid the tweets, the syndicated digital news feeds, the videos, the discussion groups and the content ads among other things.
Palm Coast Technologies executes telephone prospecting campaigns for its clients. We use industry executives and consultants to engage prospective decision makers. Our approach is unique and our results are extraordinary. We urge prospective technology clients not to attempt to initiate the sales cycle with scripted telemarketing approaches from boiler room call centers in many cases on the other side of the world. No matter what charts and graphs the telemarketers show you, call us.
Not only is the cold call alive and well, but we can’t think of anything better. That is, if you intend on selling something.
Best wishes for success in 2013.