The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated. ~The Cold Call

A trendy opinion is that with all of the social media available, cold-calling is no longer necessary or effective. At Sales Concepts, we vehemently disagree.

Now, that is not to say that we don’t value all that the Internet has to offer. Our belief is that the Internet and social media have, forever and irreversibly, changed the way we communicate. To that point, we offer a course entitled Selling in the Digital Age to ensure that sales people make the most of the resources available on the Internet. We are saying that social media should be used in addition to cold calling, not in place of it. Sales people who choose not to cold call do so at their own peril.

How many cold calls do you make a day, a week? Tasks can be broken down into two categories based on their importance and urgency. Everything you have to do can be judged by these two criteria. When faced with a task, ask yourself: “How important is this?” and “How urgent is this?” Instinctively you focus on tasks that are important and urgent. It is fairly easy to shuffle unimportant and non-urgent tasks to the bottom of the priority list. Where most sales people tend to get into trouble is with urgent tasks that are not important. Many times we work on these tasks to procrastinate from doing something that is less fun or glamorous while the important but non-urgent tasks languish quietly in the background. Cold calling is an important task. It does not seem all that urgent unless you make it so. Our advice is to set appointments with yourself. For instance, this Thursday afternoon between 2 PM and 4 PM I am going to call new prospects. Look at your schedule, determine what works for you. Do what you must to make yourself accountable.

Now that you are making cold calls, you will inevitably run into voice mail. Many people in today’s world think that leaving voice mail messages for prospects is a waste of time. After our last email on forecasting we had a customer jokingly call us to let us know that leaving voice mails is a waste of time if the customer does not return your call. Thanks Jimmy S. That was funny. All kidding aside, leaving voice mail is far from a waste of time and may ironically be one of the best uses of it. Look at it as a free advertisement! You’ve already made the call, why not leave a message? The problem with voice mail is that it usually takes a while to work. We live in an instant gratification world, and when our calls are not returned after one or two messages we quit.

You are going to have an awfully cold winter if you walk into the forest with an axe to chop down a tree for firewood and swing at the tree one or two times and say “Oh well, this doesn’t work. This is a waste of time.” Our research indicates that on average you have to leave eight voice mail messages to get a return call. Once you do get a return call after that many messages, the prospect feels a certain amount of remorse for not returning your calls sooner, and usually, will at least allow you a fair shot at their business. There are some who will shout “Stop calling me!” but they are few and far between. The new customers you win are worth one or two resisting a bit. So confirm that appointment with yourself, make the calls and sooner rather than later you will be able to yell “Timber!”

A very wise man once said, “If I knew that I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I would spend the first six sharpening my axe.” If you would like more help with cold calling and prospecting attend one of our upcoming Prospecting or Persuasive Sales courses this November.