Cold Calling fear

Selling, small business style.

Cold Calling can strike fear into any hardened sales professional.  I hear it all the time.  In fact, it’s a handbrake to stop many aspiring business owners to ‘go it alone’.  “I love what I do, but can’t sell to save myself”.  It’s often a deeper fear of selling itself.  ‘I’m not a salesperson’.  In this post I’ll share some simple tips to open the relationship up quickly, professionally and thus improving the chances of securing that vital first meeting.

The term ‘Cold Calling’ refers to prospecting without any previous contact, that is, cold.  Freezing in fact.  The fear of cold calling is natural as we all despise being rejected, and what better way to be rejected than having the prospect know NOTHING about you.  Most importantly, not knowing why they may actually NEED your product or service.  I despise cold calling so my advice – NEVER, EVER make a cold contact.  Consider the following events for a Recruitment business owner, as an example.

Identify who the priority contact is within the prospect.  Who is the HR Manager, or the person responsible for hiring?  Google the business and you’ll find old job ads, use LinkedIn ( to research who works in the business and in what capacity.  See where they have worked previously, find any blogs posted or awards won.  Get to know them before getting to know them.  Already, in your mind, the prospect is becoming a little warmer!

Call the receptionist and introduce yourself.  Always remember they are often the ones who will let you proceed or not so don’t ever take them for granted. Ask them if the correct person who makes hiring decisions is ‘Jenny’ and ask the receptionist the best way to send some information to her.  This unobtrusive contact allows the receptionist to control the flow of information.  Importantly, if asked why the contact is being made, a simple response is the best way forward.  ‘My business is finding the best person for my customers and I’d like to show Jenny how I’m helping customers, like yours, to find the very best talent in the market.  I don’t want to bother her, so thought I’d send some information outlining how we may be able to assist’.  Inoffensive, polite and to the point.

Sending the information is vital.  You want to ensure the prospect sees that you are keen to work together, to understand their business and not to solve their problems before knowing what they need.  A tailored, one page PDF outlining what your business offers (the key point of difference) with a case study from a similar business to theirs, and a link to your online presence (website, LinkedIn, blogs etc) will create enough awareness without selling the ‘sizzle’ to early.

At the bottom of the email containing the attachment, suggest that you would love to have a 5 minute discussion to learn about how the prospect currently operates in this space and identify any sticking points, which YOU can help THEM overcome.  Tell the prospect you will try them on a particular date and time.

Generally one of three things happens.  Jenny won’t respond.  However, assuming she has read your brief introduction then she’s aware of you, your business and that you are calling on X date and time.  When you call, it’s not a surprise.  Ahh, a nice ‘warm’ call! Alternatively (and the most ideal option) Jenny responds saying that date isn’t suitable but how about ‘date y’.  Perfect, the call is welcomed.  Thirdly, you will receive the obligatory ‘not interested’.  You aren’t going to win them all – but keep the contact details and diarise a contact in three months.

ONLY 25% of sales people make a second contact, and then stop

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Stu is one of Australia's leading technology, disruption and social marketing speakers and trainers to commercial Australia.

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