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Does Cold Calling TRULY Work?

I was in a discussion with another professional business developer the other day in regards to cold calling and how they felt that picking up the telephone or walking into a potential clients office or business was just another waste of their time and energy.

It got to be a bit heated because this person, whom I admire so much for their skills and capabilities to feret out business and make such strong leaps and bounds in qualifying and closing business, was sharing with me that they were limiting themselves to be able to get in front of more prospects and help their potential clients solve so many needs and problems with their solutions.

He said that the only way he would walk into an office is "IF" he was invited in on a referral and that was all. He hated cold calling and didn't want to do it, no matter what.

What do you think.

As a professinal sales trainer and business professionals coach, I truly believe that cold calling is a necessary growth in anyones business path, and over time we walk away becaue of the hurts and pain of going through a cold calling program, when we believe that we deserve not to have to cold call any longer after so many years of being a true sales professional.

Two things:

What do you believe? in regards to cold calling, should we or should we not cold call for a living?

The second thing is what and how are you at asking for referrals and are you plentiful in referrals or are you not, and share with me how you get them, so I can pass that on to other professionals like yourself.

Your thoughts are important to me as well as others that will read this.

Thank you for your assistance. - by hartd
Cold Calling has been vital to my business over the years. Twenty-five percent of my sales have come from cold calls. I love to cold call! They energize me! Depending on the type of business you are in; the cold call is not to sell your product, it is to sell an appointment. - by MPrince
The question on the table is "Does cold calling truly work?"

My answer (and I believe the answer), is:

"Yes, if you know what you're doing; no, if you don't know what you're doing."

"Swimming" doesn't work either, if you don't know what you're doing. But if you know how to swim, it works. You float, you get from point A to point B, and it possibly even saves your life.

You also have to want to swim. If you don't, you'll make up all sorts of reasons (excuses) why it doesn't work.

This is why I have a dislike for people (usually authors trying to sell books or marketing or SEO "experts" trying to sell their products/services) who pronounce, "cold calling is dead!" They prey on the people who don't know how to cold call, or don't want to cold call.

Cold calling is responsible for many billions of dollars of annual revenue. Of course it works! - by Skip Anderson
"Yes, if you know what you're doing; no, if you don't know what you're doing." -- Skip

Skip is right about that. Knowing what you're doing has a few components: knowing how to phrase an offer; knowing how to qualify or disquality the prospect; knowing how to find out if there is a reason for doing business that works both ways; knowing what you expect out of a cold call.

Mitch - by MitchM
Good point, Skip.

People who know how to do and enjoy cold calling, do it. And the rest of us do something completely different.

The answer is in the results. Obviously, it works for you and Mitch.

I've checked some of the books (usually New York Times bestsellers) that beat up cold calling. They are rather pathetic books in terms of value though. Half of the book beats up cold calling, and the other half doles out rather sketchy alternatives.

After reading the book, you know that cold calling is useless, but have no idea what to do instead.

And the authors say at the end of their books, "If you want to learn more, join my coaching programme." I think they deliberately hold back in the book.

Cheers

BD - by Bald Dog
I am in media sales and maybe my product is a little different to sell than others but my cold calls are to sell an appointment with my prospect. I don't try to quality the prospect on the cold call because I should have done my homework before making the call and I should know if #1 the prospect does media advertising; #2 has the financial means to afford to advertise; #3 any other pertitnent information that I feel might be important. I try to know as much about the prospect as possible before hand so I don't have to qualify them on a cold call. Again, all I am trying to accomplish on the cold call is an appointment then on the appointment I do a needs analysis to determine if and how I can help the prospective client.

MPrince - by MPrince
Learning to Cold Call is just like learning anything else. Practice makes perfect! - by MPrince
One can only assume that when a sales person says they think cold calling is a waste of time or that they "hate" doing it is because that person was never taught the right way on how to cold call.

Is it easier to only deal with incoming sales calls? Sure. But those days are over (see my last blog post: http://phonesalestraining (dot) blogspot (dot) com. 2009 will bring a whole new set of challenges for companies and there sales reps.

When there's an abundance of low hanging fruit, there's no urgency to sharpen your sales skills. When all that fruit has been picked and you're looking for deals, and your commission checks are lighter, you put off sales training until you can afford it.

Those that have the "stones" to invest in themselves and learn the sales techniques they will need will be the ones standing at the end of 2009.

The rest will be like the real estate agents that got in that business when things were booming. But now only the most experienced and well trained real estate agents will survive.

So if you don't like cold calling, it's probably because you hate the fear and rejection.

Face your fear and overcome it! It's easier than you think. You just need to know how to do it and will succeed.

I'm living proof. - by SalesBuzz.com
No days are over.

Look, if you have enough referrals that you do not need to make a call to a prospect that does not as yet know you, then don't make any Gold Calls. If you are not busy, I definitely suggest doing it or outsourcing it to firms who are real B2B pros, like my company.

Your friend hates it because he has not learned how it is done professionally but he is in great company. Almost no sales people master prospecting - it is the least understood and mastered of all sales skills including closing.

If you are talking Telephone Selling that is different that Telephone Prospecting, you only sell the meeting for the later, no order is taken over the phone. - by Gold Calling
It certainly DOES work. That is how I have sold for over 14 years. That is how I run my business currently.

Take a look at my web site

Prosalesguide.com

I go into specific detail on how to make sales the cold way. You have to get your foot in the door, and the rest is history. - by Jumpman
Referrals will dramatically make your job much easier. However, if you do not have any sales or you are just starting out, you will not have any referrals.

That means you must get out there, and attack. Once you have a client list and you have gained new sales, you can get referrals from them. But, until that point in time, you must work on gaining the customer's attention in order to get your foot in the door. - by Jumpman
The question on the table is "Does cold calling truly work?"

My answer (and I believe the answer), is:

"Yes, if you know what you're doing; no, if you don't know what you're doing."
The definitive answer to the topic. - by Ace Coldiron
Mastering this particular sales practice is both least accomplished and the most rewarding.

The reason why it is the least mastered practice is simple - rejection, all sales people would rather pitch than prospect, it has always been that way. And, in order to truly master prospecting on the phone or face to face you must go through this pain, only then will you learn how to do this effectively.

In this very forum one contributor talked about one in ten being interested when Gold Calling® (don't use the phrase cold calling, it is too negative, you have my permission to use Gold Calling® at your sales meetings!) ... I currently average one in three to four. That shows you the difference between the use of what may be described as a mundane repetitive disliked sales practice and mastery of same.

As for referrals, in most businesses you cannot keep busy on referrals alone. A great example of this is those who insist that they only work referrals !

In other words, Gold Calling® is not just for new sales people who are new in a business or industry, it is for all sales people, those of us who are not closing as much business as we are capable of.

We all LOVE REFERRALS, WE ALL SHOULD CULTIVATE THEM, that does not mean we can live of them or, perhaps better put; excel with them alone. - by Gold Calling
It certainly DOES work. That is how I have sold for over 14 years. That is how I run my business currently.

Take a look at my web site

Prosalesguide.com

I go into specific detail on how to make sales the cold way. You have to get your foot in the door, and the rest is history.
Many of us go into specific detail HERE. It's one of the things SalesPractice is all about. - by Ace Coldiron
... those of us who are not closing as much business as we are capable of.
I should expand on this statement, as it is somewhat confusing the way I left it. Here is what I am trying to convey;

If you have idle time you should walk into a business, while out in your territory - not rush back to get on the phone. When you are in the office, without appointments to go on and referrals to fill your day, you should get on the phone.

If you are setting up a channel marketing or other referral relationships, meet them after hours. During the day, make some calls, master this thing called prospecting and your sales will go up dramatically due to having more appointments and you will forever more never worry about being employed - as you will be making an employer money! - by Gold Calling
I have to comment on the statement Gold Calling made about walking into a business when you have idle time...I can't begin to tell you how much business I have generated over the past twenty-five years by doing just that. If I have time in between appointments or if I am on my way back to the office after an appointment I try to make it a point (if I have time) to make at least one in person Cold Call. I simply walk in with nothing but a business card, introduce myself and ask for a few minutes of their time at a later date. I will get an appointment to come back about 40% of the time but at that point all I am doing is selling the appointment.

MP - by MPrince
Many of us go into specific detail HERE. It's one of the things SalesPractice is all about.

Haha, I have no problem going into detail at all. I was trying to do a little self promotion before my signature was activated to be perfectly honest with you.

I was once was the sales supervisor for a cable giant. My specific role was to be in charge of outbound sales for the entire region, in which where I lived and where I held my job.

In the wonderful world of cable sales, there are lots of monies spent on advertising on television, radio, publications, on radio, billboards, and more. However competition was taking a bite out of the market share with the particular cable company that I was with.

After being a successful sales rep for this company, I was promoted to the management position stated above in order to battle of the competition. We decided that we need to get the HARD sale. That HARD sale, was to go out into the field, knocking on residential doors, gaining the customers back one by one, or by signing them into a contract.

That is exactly what we did. I had 25 in-house reps underneath me at one point. In addition I built a contracting team that had over 40 reps, in addition with my 25 in-house reps.

Not only were we able to gain many customers back, they were also happy to develop the relationship with my sales reps on a personal level. That changed the perception of the company as a giant that did not care about the consumer, to a giant that cared about the service of the customer.

Our door-to-door team was responsible from anywhere from 8-12% of sales.

Anyone who has dealt with budgets on a corporate level knows that is a huge chuck of gross sales and is a huge department of any sales organization.

So, when the question is, "does cold calling really work?" My answer is, not only am I living proof, but you just have to go out there and through yourself out there. You will get sales. You need to be confident, and most of all persistent! - by Jumpman
...We decided that we need to get the HARD sale. That HARD sale, was to go out into the field, knocking on residential doors, gaining the customers back one by one, or by signing them into a contract.

That is exactly what we did. I had 25 in-house reps underneath me at one point. In addition I built a contracting team that had over 40 reps, in addition with my 25 in-house reps.

Not only were we able to gain many customers back, they were also happy to develop the relationship with my sales reps on a personal level. That changed the perception of the company as a giant that did not care about the consumer, to a giant that cared about the service of the customer.

Our door-to-door team was responsible from anywhere from 8-12% of sales.

Anyone who has dealt with budgets on a corporate level knows that is a huge chuck of gross sales and is a huge department of any sales organization.

So, when the question is, "does cold calling really work?" My answer is, not only am I living proof, but you just have to go out there and through yourself out there. You will get sales. You need to be confident, and most of all persistent!
Great post. It's refreshing also for someone to share a story about a strategic initiative which is a good way to describe the approach you guys took. - by Ace Coldiron
...I can't begin to tell you how much business I have generated over the past twenty-five years by doing just that. If I have time in between appointments or if I am on my way back to the office after an appointment I try to make it a point (if I have time) to make at least one in person Cold Call. I simply walk in with nothing but a business card, introduce myself and ask for a few minutes of their time at a later date. I will get an appointment to come back about 40% of the time but at that point all I am doing is selling the appointment.
We only sell the appointment on the phone too AND FOR GOOD REASON.

What is annoying about the suggestion that COLD CALLING - what I prefer to refer to as Gold Calling® - doesn't work any more, with all these comments about people hating it and whatever else is, what happens when you have two appointments and one is over faster than you think it will be? Go buy a coffee or walk into a business that intrigues you?

I often sit in my car in the winter, picking up my cell to use my Gold Calling® techniques to reach the right party. If they show interest I then offer to leave my car, explaining that I called form the car due to the weather ...


If all I did was get a name I have another prospect on my list.


If you waste time instead, no matter what you tell me, you are loosing income. MPrince shows how much income he has generated through walking in, calling works just as well ... because it is a numbers game. - by Gold Calling
ACE:

Thank you very much! Let me tell you guys, door-to-door sales is certainly not easy, and is hard. BUT, it is not that different from making phone calls. It still is a numbers game, and techniques and strategies can be mastered to shape the art form accordingly.

For example, a lot of stuff you guys talk about with cold calling on the phone, can easily relate to door-to-door. That too, is refreshing to read and hear! - by Jumpman
I was a little slow picking up on the difference between cold calling and knocking on doors. I thought they were the same until I realized you were talking about telemarketing (I think).

I hang up the second I know a sales person is on the other end. Why do you beat yourself by calling someone cold rather than putting 42 cents on an envelope, introduce yourself, tell the potential customer you are going to call, and if he is interested he will answer the phone? I just started my door-to-door campaign and we are having our sales people knock on the door, drop of a brochure, and we tell the customer to think about our offer and we will be back the following day. We do not ask for an appointment. So far, yesterday was our first day. Within about three hours one of my plumbers went hit a few homes. He sold one job for $13,000 and another job for $6,000. I am having a hard time finding professional sales people. I would like to have 2 to 4 full time door-to-door sales people. - by pcplumber
I hang up the second I know a sales person is on the other end. Why do you beat yourself by calling someone cold rather than putting 42 cents on an envelope, introduce yourself, tell the potential customer you are going to call, and if he is interested he will answer the phone?
I have three things to say about this;

(1) You went on to day you have sales people door knocking, which is another form of "cold calling". Do you want them to be treated the same way as you treat people calling on you?

(2) What if you hung up on me and I had a way your business could make a fortune???

(3) Research shows that every piece of mail does not reach the decision maker - they may have been interested, if they knew what you had to offer (as in example #2 above) but never read the letter because of a screening personal assistant that decided to use "file 19" on the letter.

RECAP;

There is no perfect way to prospect. Campaigns like; Mail and call, and; walk in and leave literature then call-back plus others are not guaranteed to be more successful. what they do is allow sales people to avoid their fear of rejection, that is all.

Since nothing works perfectly, what we are left with is understanding what is most successful. The quick answer to that is mastery of ALL sales practices, including prospecting (mail and brochure drop offs, etc are Direct Marketing - NOT SELLING!).

If you want to penetrate an account, you best know how to prospect. And, if you really know how, you will get better results than if you don't - in general, with your sales achievements, and, specifically, while prospecting.

LASTLY;

Not ever industry lends itself to the Internet (they have to know they have the need before they 'search') or direct marketing (especially calling on big business at TOP EXEC level). That is why a well rounded sales professional spends at least 30% of their learnign on prospecting.

Basic skills can be refreshed at sales meeting once a month after they are ingrained. But prospecting will take longer to master.

In direct response the question posted by pcplumber to; "Why do you beat yourself by calling someone cold" which I assume is meant to say "Why do you beat yourself up by calling someone cold" ... because it works, because there isn't any other choice in many cases (even in small business) and, because when it is done rioght you would NOT HANG UP! - by Gold Calling
I was a little slow picking up on the difference between cold calling and knocking on doors. I thought they were the same until I realized you were talking about telemarketing (I think).

I hang up the second I know a sales person is on the other end. Why do you beat yourself by calling someone cold rather than putting 42 cents on an envelope, introduce yourself, tell the potential customer you are going to call, and if he is interested he will answer the phone?
I make my own calls. I'm telemarketing. I'm cold calling. I've used professional callers. I've telemarketed. They've coldcalled on my behalf. I've walked into a business and asked to see the owner to ask if I could set an appointment. I'm cold calling.

I mail out thank you cards thanking a business owner for taking the time to read an article we've enclosed on financial planning or insurance and that we've planned on calling him in the future, and thank him in advance for taking our call. That is an alternative to cold calling. This is a very small part of our activity and is directed to professionals strictly or large businesses with layers of gatekeepers.

All of these techniques are positive activity in MY PERSONAL OPINION. If you should hang up on me when I call, the only person you're hurting is yourself. I don't know if people who hang up on us are totally comfortable in their world and don't need any product or services of others ever again or not, or whether maybe they're flat broke and couldn't afford anything even if they wanted it. There must be a million reasons why people hang up on salesman as business owners, but in every case, they are haning up on opportunity. We consider hangups a call at a bad time and put them into a separate bin and call back when we have little else to do 3 or 6 months down the road.

Bottom line is for me and in MY OPINION, people who hang up on sales people without good cause, are wasting an opportunity. If you've picked up the phone in the first place, you might as well find out what it is all about.

Aloha... :cool: - by rattus58
I make my own calls. I'm telemarketing. I'm cold calling. I've used professional callers. I've telemarketed. They've coldcalled on my behalf. I've walked into a business and asked to see the owner to ask if I could set an appointment. I'm cold calling.

I mail out thank you cards thanking a business owner for taking the time to read an article we've enclosed on financial planning or insurance and that we've planned on calling him in the future, and thank him in advance for taking our call. That is an alternative to cold calling. This is a very small part of our activity and is directed to professionals strictly or large businesses with layers of gatekeepers.

All of these techniques are positive activity in MY PERSONAL OPINION. If you should hang up on me when I call, the only person you're hurting is yourself. I don't know if people who hang up on us are totally comfortable in their world and don't need any product or services of others ever again or not, or whether maybe they're flat broke and couldn't afford anything even if they wanted it. There must be a million reasons why people hang up on salesman as business owners, but in every case, they are haning up on opportunity. We consider hangups a call at a bad time and put them into a separate bin and call back when we have little else to do 3 or 6 months down the road.

Bottom line is for me and in MY OPINION, people who hang up on sales people without good cause, are wasting an opportunity. If you've picked up the phone in the first place, you might as well find out what it is all about.

Aloha... :cool:
I agree with what you and the previous post are saying.

I will have to admit that you are right about the loss being mine, only sometimes, because a few years ago a male solicitor called from Mercury property liability insurance and for some reasons his mannerism made me listen to him. I think he is the only telemarketer I listened to in the past 36 years and I save more than $15,000 every year on my property insurance because I own three apartment buildings and a few other properties. He cut all my insurance costs to about 40% of what I was paying.

About 99% of the telemarketing calls I recelve are from internet yellow page type companies, yellow page companies, vehicle insurance, uniform companies, janitorial services, boiler room stock brokerage firms, and scam artist type contractor supplies.

I am running a business with over 30 employees and I am on the phone from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. I get 5 to 15 soliciting calls every day of the week. About 3 to 5 times a day I am talking to a customer, I have one customer on hold, and a third line rings. I rush to drop the first customer and hear a solicitor's pitch. I lose many telephone calls and good sales due to telemarketing. Just taking a wild guess I would say I lose no less than $20,000 a year and maybe as much as $75,000.

Again, I hear what you are saying and I wish everyone the best who does telemarketing. But, if you call me and make me hang up on one of my customers don't expect me to be nice. Send me a letter first so I don't embarrass myself. - by pcplumber
I am running a business with over 30 employees and I am on the phone from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. I get 5 to 15 soliciting calls every day of the week. About 3 to 5 times a day I am talking to a customer, I have one customer on hold, and a third line rings. I rush to drop the first customer and hear a solicitor's pitch. I lose many telephone calls and good sales due to telemarketing. Just taking a wild guess I would say I lose no less than $20,000 a year and maybe as much as $75,000.
The first thing you do when you get people on the phone is get their information - as early as you can. If they are checking you out, and you say "Can I have your company name and telephone number" you may be asking too soon and in the wrong way.

If on the other hand, they mention something about their needs, you can say "That is interesting, I am certain we can help you with that - by the way, I did not get the name of your company."

Once you have this info you can call people back.

Also, if you get 15 prospecting calls and 5 customer calls, that is 20 calls a day. This take about an hour ... now I know you have more going on but, you should be able to manage your phone work quite easily without loosing contact.

Lastly, something that is overlook ed by almost every businessman and woman; the prospector who is interrupting you, they work for your prospective client too!!!!!!!

Give them time. As they get into it, say "That is interesting. I may end up being your client. By the way - who makes decision in your company about hot water efficiency, only my company installs Solar thermal panels that can save your company thousands a year, I should call and intro myself AND; would you mind me mentioning your name?"

I guy like Harvey McKay, who has published several books, who owns an envelope printing and direct mailing company would not miss this trick. By ignoring the people who call you - thinking they bare interrupting you - you are loosing about $250,000 a year easily (because each day you get more people prospecting your company than new prospective clients calling on average).

Stop crying about a ,loss of $75g's and starting thinking about the quarter mil you are letting slip by daily. - by Gold Calling
@ Gold Calling - I hear what you are saying. I should turn the call around and into a customer and a sale (I think). I think I answer the phone no less than 50 times per day and probably make no less than 30 to 40 outgoing calls. Almost every day, I have to take a break from the phone for about an hour. I have a person in the office to answer the phones, but answering every call myself is more efficient and effective.

I will try to be more polite in the future. You see! You can teach an old dog new tricks and that is why I came to this forum.

Thank you for your wisdom and advice. - by pcplumber
I hear what you are saying. I should turn the call around and into a customer and a sale (I think). I think I answer the phone no less than 50 times per day and probably make no less than 30 to 40 outgoing calls. Almost every day, I have to take a break from the phone for about an hour. I have a person in the office to answer the phones, but answering every call myself is more efficient and effective.

I will try to be more polite in the future. You see! You can teach an old dog new tricks and that is why I came to this forum.
Now that you have a source of leads - hire a sales person ... a real pro .... to handle them. Watch your company grow.

One or two minutes longer on the phone with a cold caller will both (1) allow you to see if they have something that will help you, and; (2) produce a prospective client.

That simple. - by Gold Calling
Now that you have a source of leads - hire a sales person ... a real pro .... to handle them. Watch your company grow.

One or two minutes longer on the phone with a cold caller will both (1) allow you to see if they have something that will help you, and; (2) produce a prospective client.

That simple.
Yes, I took your advice today. A united Publishers Yellow Pages called today and I spent 20 minutes trying to recruit the solicitor, and I put in a few plugs for my company. I'm going to love cold callers!

Thank you very much. - by pcplumber
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