Cold Calling - Are you good at it?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by HarryPot, Aug 28, 2013.

  1. HarryPot macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2009
    #1
    So, I'm in need of starting to find new clients. And besides visiting local ones, the best way to find clients in other states is by calling them.

    Problem is, the concept of cold calling terrifies me a little:eek:. Sometimes the person who answers is really nice and makes the call easy. But many times they just want to hang up, and even if they don't treat you badly, you can just "feel" how bad they want the call to end.

    So, anyone here makes this frequently? Any tips? Ideas?
     
  2. rdowns macrumors Penryn

    rdowns

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2003
    #2
    I did lots of cold calling early in my career. While it's been a long time, I can tell you that you need to be mentally tough. Every no gets you that much closer to a yes.

    If you don't give them a compelling reason to want to to talk to you, of course they'll want to hang up. You need to grab them with the first thing out of your mouth. In one or two sentences, why are you calling me and what's in it for me?
     
  3. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Location:
    The Far Horizon
    #3
    I will be honest with you: Personally, I loathe cold callers, I am infuriated at their assumption that they can invade my personal space by phoning my personal number (businesses are different) and seek to try to sell something to me, invariably at a time when I am at home, perhaps cooking, perhaps chilling, perhaps watching the news. It is a horrible intrusion of personal and private space, and yes, at times, I long to strangle them; I value my privacy, and am outraged at its violation, and at this attempt to treat my boundaries as though they don't exist.

    In fact, I will concede that I deeply dislike them, and struggle to be polite to them. Usually I hang up, and I always ask them to remove my number from their data base (as they are required to do by law if asked) and never dial my number again. In any case, I will never, under any circumstances, buy anything from a cold caller.

    My tip would be to try to reach your clients another way, rather than cold calling. My other would be - if you really must subject someone to this - to call during business hours; I regard cold calling in the evening to be a totally unacceptable and unwarranted invasion of one's personal space and private life.

    Indeed, if I want a service, or good, I am quite capable of phoning a business, or browsing online; I don't need a cold caller......

    Try email, or designing an attractive website......or blogging, or FB, or Twitter, to sell something; these are parts of the world where people seek visibility, and exposure, so they cannot really complain if they are approached with a view to try to sell them something.
     
  4. robanga macrumors 68000

    robanga

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2007
    Location:
    Oregon
    #4
    I have worked in marketing, business development and sales since the 1980s and our profession has changed a lot.

    Cold-calling while still feasible is not as common as it once was. There are a lot of reasons behind this but some of the big ones include:

    1. Nobody answers phones anymore - Automated systems and complicated contact trees have made reaching anything other than voicemail much harder. Buildings are more secure and the workforce is generally spread out more.
    2. Efficiency- The business world is something like 6-10x more efficient they we were were in the 1920s, and technology is only part of the story. More work for less workers means its harder to get anyone to spend a few minutes with you on the phone or in person.
    3. Information overload - In 1982 your cold call to the Director of purchasing had to compete with far less intrusive marketing. Now they have it coming to them from all levels of life from Facebook to email spam.

    Better than cold calling now are;

    1. Networking - Chambers of commerce, LinkedIn (huge now), Google + and other social media
    2. Advertising - Create interesting marketing that generates leads. All advertising is expensive but it works
    3. Media and PR - Create something interesting and viral often for very little cost and you will get business from it.
    4. Create content - Write and blog about your business, offer your expertise for free at some level and you will get customers hooked on it :)
    5. Mine your current customers for referrals and pay them for it, they are some of the best sources of new business.
    6. Attend industry events - more networking

    I dont want to discourage you from showing up in someone's lobby or picking up the phone, but really the amount of that you have to do to get business is usually not worth the time. This does depend partially on the business though.
     
  5. Apple fanboy macrumors P6

    Apple fanboy

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    Behind the Lens, UK
    #5
    The only thing worse than a cold caller on the phone, is when they knock on your door.
    Can I interest you in replacement windows (clearly all your windows are fairly new PVC type like they are selling)?
    Oh yes please help me. My windows are all broken and I don't have a phone or the Internet. I was just staying in waiting for somebody to come and sell me what I needed. Thank goodness you came!

    Many years ago a door to door salesman came to our house offering caverty wall insulation. When we explained it was an older house without caverty walls she left. And then marched down the path of our neighbour who lived in an identicle house! Infact the whole estate was the same building style.

    I don't think she hit quota that day, and as others have said I'm not sure in 2013 this is the way to grow your business. Why not add a poll to this thread with a have you ever bought from a cold caller?
     
  6. HarryPot thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2009
    #6
    I agree, mostly I've found that the object of cold calling is finding, eventually, someone that has the need for our products at the moment. Otherwise I've found it difficult to get from them appointments to visit their business/office.

    I only call office numbers, never home numbers.

    I'm exactly like you, whenever someone calls me at my home I get angry. But normally, specially after starting to make cold calls, I don't dislike people who call to our office to offer their products.

    Good advice. Currently I make 4-5-6. The first three, specially 2-3, are a little more complicated in our industry.

    Our business is industrial equipment for laundries. So not a lot of potential clients out there, hence marketing becomes even more expensive, or more complicated. Besides Google Adwords, which has proven very good, other social media like Facebook or Twitter have not given us good results.

    ----------

    I'm with you completely in the house-to-house selling. Or calling home numbers. I dislike that.

    But would you think the same if someone calls your office? Or visits your office?

    In our case, for example, I want to sell washers, dryers, etc.. So I call hotels/laundries and offer them our products. Normally the first person who answers me is the receptionist, and I then ask, in my most polite and friendly voice:p, to speak with the laundry manager. In hotels I've found it is extremely easy to reach the manager, since most receptionist think I'm a client of them. Other places are slightly harder, but most times they pass me thru. The hard thing is then being able to sell your product.
     
  7. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Location:
    The Far Horizon
    #7
    Having given your post more thought (the original title of 'cold calling' is so off putting, I had no initial inclination to offer any sort of advice, other than to dissuade you from pursuing this any further), I think that robanga has some very good ideas. In any case, your post has reassured me (somewhat).

    Here, the key psychological thing is to persuade the individuals that this is their choice, not something they are pushed (or tricked) into buying. If you can persuade them that the decision to buy is their own - by appealing to their sense of autonomy - you may be on to something. This means designing something attractive (advertising, websites, blogs) that people will want to read, will devour with pleasure, and will want to return to. Once that happens (and - this is also important - you have an attractive product) you should get sales.

    One further point: never lie as part of your sales pitch, even if you are on the point of closing a sale and a lie will clinch it. People don't like being lied to; they never forget (or forgive) being made a fool of.
     
  8. senseless macrumors 68000

    senseless

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2008
    Location:
    Pennsylvania, USA
    #8
    Sorry, I don't trust cold callers and never give them more than 5 seconds. It's usually the following:

    Credit card processors
    Fraternal Order of Police
    Web site optimizers
    "Yellow page" companies "verifying" our non existing ad
    Somebody saying they are from Verizon
    3rd party utilities
    Opinion pollsters and push pollsters during election cycles
     
  9. robanga macrumors 68000

    robanga

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2007
    Location:
    Oregon
    #9
    All- Points taken and agreed on B2C cold calling, but he is talking about B2B calling....

    B2C is a fraction of it once was - Thank the "Do not call list " and unpublished cellular phones.
     
  10. jeremy h macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #10
    B2B cold calling can work really well. It has for me in the past.

    I've never tried to be clever. I've just pretty immediately told them why I'm calling etc and have never tried to qualify who I'm talking to. (Receptionists etc have often been helpful if treated with respect.)

    The worse you are at it (eg nervous and hesitant) then the better, as it's obvious that you are not professional sales person and people seem to like that and have at times helped me out - often with other names / contacts to try.

    I've found it's always been about lucky timing as opposed to sales techniques (whatever they are). You make lots of calls to no effect then you make one (no different to all the others) where the potential client has just fallen out with another supplier and bingo they show some interest! I won a couple of really good clients that way.

    I also think it's essential to have some sort of intro pack / info (post or email) ready to go as asking permission to send them something to mull over has worked the best for me. (When I've got somewhere it's never been in a single call) No one is ever persuaded to change / make a decision in a two minute call. If you get a sniff of interest then you can send it straight out and call them back in a week of so.

    Oh, one other thing - if sending an email make sure you have a professional site that matches your email address. Lot's of people - if they get an email from you introducing yourself will chop off the address bit and stick it in their browser to see what you're about.
     
  11. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    Boston
    #11
    If the number on the other end is not recognizable, I generally do not pick up.

    I got a robo call last night close to 9:00pm - that angered me because I should be on a do not call list yet I still get crap like this. I was angry because I didn't want the ringing phone waking up my kids.
     
  12. kolax macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2007
    #12
    I don't pick up either if it's a number I don't know. If they phone back right away, I'll answer.

    I only have a mobile phone - my landline is active but there's no phone attached (I have to get a landline for internet). I've rarely been cold called on my mobile, and if I am, I am furious.
     
  13. HarryPot thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2009
    #13
    Very good advice here.


    I fit perfectly here. I don't consider myself a terrible salesman, but I suck at small talking. I normally prefer keeping it short and to the point.

    Yes, I've also found that the real object of cold calling is good timing/luck.
     
  14. sdilley14 macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2007
    Location:
    Mesa, AZ
    #14
    I've done cold calling for several years, though my experience was direct to customers at home rather than B2B (yeah, REAL fun! lol). As awful as it sounds calling people at home, I was actually very successful. I won't be able to tell you anything the people here haven't already said. Just be confident, smile and talk with a sense of real energy/enthusiasm (real, don't fake it and don't go over the top with it), be persistent, believe 100% in what you are selling, ASK for their business, control the conversation and make it move in an assumptive (though not pushy or over assumptive) manner, and don't take ANYTHING personally...they're strangers, they don't know you, so don't take any hang ups/"eff off!'s" personally! And yes, every NO you get gets you one call closer to your next YES.
     
  15. velocityg4 macrumors 68040

    velocityg4

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2004
    Location:
    Georgia
    #15
    Personally I find business to business cold calling just as loathsome and annoying as business to consumer, even more so since I have to answer my business line. My business line is for customers calling me or me calling out nothing else.

    The first thing I do is immediately tell them to put me on their do not call list. If they don't immediately agree and hang up I file a complaint with the FCC especially if I get some smart ass remark about "Don't you want to make more money". I am also ticked because I know that the useless call you just made probably cost me $2 because you got it through Google Adwords results.

    Personally if someone is calling me I immediately think their product or service must be.
    - A scam to get my billing information for identity theft.
    - A piece garbage that will just cost me money with no return.
    - Not something I have any need for.

    If I want a product or service I carefully and thoroughly research the topic so I don't waste money on something that does not work. I focus first and foremost on customer reviews then expert reviews if customer reviews are lacking or seem untrustworthy.

    The very last resort for me is actually speaking to a sales person. At which point they get put under a microscope. I grill them on every point and counterpoint. To make sure I get all the facts and rule out whether they are lying or lack knowledge about something they are selling. If I feel they are lying or avoiding the truth by trick words the sale is over. If they lack knowledge I push until I get the answer.

    I feel that the Do Not Call list should be greatly expanded to include businesses and block calls from all entities. So one list to block sales, charity, political and survey calls. Also US phone numbers should only be given to entities within the US. So that they can't get around FCC regulations by making the calls outside the US. If they want to do that they should have to pay international calling rates.
     
  16. Macky-Mac macrumors 68030

    Macky-Mac

    Joined:
    May 18, 2004
    #16
    I feel the same. The last thing I want when I'm working is a sales call interrupting me.

    On the other hand, if a company's big enough that there's a purchasing department, then ok, call and ask for that department......but leave everybody else alone.
     
  17. kevroc macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2011
    #17
    I don't like cold calling, what makes me comfortable is doing the following...

    1. I created a flyer explaining how I think our product/service can help them. It's true and something I believe in.

    2. I do some research and mail out flyers to 10 businesses.

    3. If I come across an email I will send an email similar to the flyer.

    4. After 3 days I will call (giving them time to get the mail), and I will explain that I'm following up on the information I sent to see if they have any questions or would like to learn more about how we might be able to help them. If we can't help or they don't want help, no problem, I move on.

    5. Keep in mind it's in the owners best interest to improve their business, if what you are doing can support that then you should have no problem calling. Not every business owner is up to speed/knowledgeable about every product/service that may exist to help them.

    6. Also, keep in mind how you can help. Identify what types of customers you can really help (those that use "x" type of machinery or machinery that is of "y" age). Or if your machines operate at an efficiency level that can save operating costs, whatever it is, use that in your opening lines with them. Let them know that you're not here to waste their time.
     
  18. alice04 macrumors regular

    alice04

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2013
    #18
    I worked at a call center before with cold calls and yeah there sooooooo many people getting pissed with cold calls. Hahaha. I cant balme them. But they cant blame us as well, we're doing our job. :D

    But naaaaaaah! It was way back 2 years ago. hahaha
     
  19. ejb190 macrumors 65816

    ejb190

    #19
    I've been on both sides of cold calling. I hate it. I feel like I'm intruding or bothering people. Even when they probably want me to call.

    And when you call me, it never fails that you call while I am short staffed, dealing with 3 customers, starving for having skipped lunch, and fighting off a migraine. So if I sound a little cranky... But whatever I ask you to do (call back, send me more material, or don't call back), please do.

    I think kevroc has it perfected. But with his technique, it isn't really cold calling. Cold calling (on the phone or in person) needs to be part of a total marketing plan. If you don't have printed materials to back you up, don't bother. Business cards are nice, but do you have any idea how fast I can loose one on my desk? Try a nice flyer or half sheet postcard.

    I recently read Duct Tape Marketing and Gorilla Marketing. Both are fabulous books and both address cold calling at length.

     
  20. Apple fanboy macrumors P6

    Apple fanboy

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    Behind the Lens, UK
    #20
    As a purchase manager I couldn't disagree more! I get lots of sales calls from our suppliers usually along these lines.
    Hi I'm (insert name), I'm your new account manager. I notice you haven't bought any (insert product) from us recently. Is there anything I can quote on?

    Now apart from the fact that we rarely sell the products they are offering because mostly we supply services not hardware, if I need them to quote wouldn't I be calling them?

    The next worse one is agencies (despite our website saying we don't employ through agencies). Because we are a small company they call through and ask to speak the manager. Now he never takes these calls (rightly so), but when you explain that, they just say I'll call back later! Now whats the point in that?:mad:
     
  21. Macky-Mac macrumors 68030

    Macky-Mac

    Joined:
    May 18, 2004
    #21
    so there we have it.....NOBODY, not even the purchasing department, wants to get cold calls!
     

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