Stop Breaking a Sweat During Your Cold Calling

Use Prospecting to Target Your Cold Calls More Effectively

Let’s just face it. As a sales professional, cold calling probably isn’t your favorite thing to do. It’s something that you do because you absolutely need to in order to keep your business running smoothly. You probably run through your list of potential clients as quickly as possible and then call it a day with one adept wipe of your forearm across your brow to remove the accumulated sweat. Have you ever considered the possibility that that solitary generic sales pitch that you’ve been using just isn’t working?

You might earn a few sales in the short run by using a standard cold calling sales pitch, but this is definitely not the best long term sales plan. You can actually save yourself quite a bit of trouble and make a lot more money if you start using your cold calls like sniper bullets instead of shot gun rounds, making sure that each one is custom fired to hit it’s target and specifically address that unique customer’s concerns. First of all, this means educating yourself on a regular basis. You need to gain cold calling expertize from experts when ever you get a chance. Talking to the top sellers in your organization, visiting sales planning websites like, and reading books about cold calling and complex sales, should all be on the top of your weekly list of things to do. However, for now, this article will serve as an introduction to this more effective type of cold calling and get you started in the right direction.

If you want to halt that forehead sweat before it even starts here are a couple of  key pointers that can help you to work smarter instead of harder every time that you pick up that phone to make a cold call.

1. Scout Out the Territory with a Few Preliminary Cold Calls First

Your first cold call doesn’t need to be a sales pitch; in fact, it’s better if it isn’t. Rather, the purpose of your first call should be to gather information. Imagine that you are a scout who is merely searching out the territory in order to become familiar with the terrain. Start out by talking to people who are lower down in the company. Stay on the phone as long as possible so that you don’t miss any potentially valuable information. In particular, you want to find out which officer in the company is going to be your “go to” person. This is the person who will understand most acutely how your product will benefit the company. You will also want to find out what the company’s current major concerns are. Knowing this information will help you to customize your pitch so that you sound like an expert on your customer’s concerns, not just a telemarketer.

2. Put Yourself In the Place of the Person You Are Speaking To.

Once you are finally ready to talk directly with your “go to” person, take a moment to prep yourself psychologically. Imagine that you are in your customer’s shoes. What are their concerns? What types of problems are they experiencing? How can you effectively address these problems and concerns? If you make your cold call with the answers to these questions on the tip of your tongue (instead starting off with a mechanical speech which might as well be performed by a robot from a 1950s sci-fi movie), then you are guaranteed to improve your ratio of successful calls to rejections. Once your customer can see that you understand their needs and have the tools to help them, their receptiveness will be multiplied several times over.

Good Selling
Mike & Joe
SalesRoundup Podcast

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45 comments for “Stop Breaking a Sweat During Your Cold Calling

  1. Luke
    March 26, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    Mike, Joe,
    Interesting question. I started to work for a company that used to get customers just knocking on the door (as a figure of speech), and now doing cold calling for bus devt.

    What I do:
    * I have prepared a target list of companies that encompass my industry. For Europe, that will be about 1000 companies/factories (with a few 100 as my main objective).

    * I prepare a 10 slide powerpoint for every target account, where I track the summary of their business, their products, their competitors, their strategy, their people and organization, their IT footprint, and their challenges in general and in the solution space I serve. That is what i have a quick browse at every time I try to call into that conpany. It warms me up for asking exactly those 2-3 questions I can ask to attract interest.

    * Then I try to get as much intelligence as possible about that account, on the topics described above.

    * The hardest thing however is to make people open up on the phone, especially in Europe. It seems as if you need quite a few calls over a few months before they get used to you calling. Of course without stalking or spamming.

    One tip that worked pretty well recently:
    I contacted a former prospect from a previous life, not in our target industry, but customer of the prospect as was going after, with a simple question: “Can you do me a favor, I know I don’t have anything right now that can help you, but I would like to ask 15 minutes of your time. I am trying to understand the particularities of your supplier’s particular industry, can you help me get some insight?” And the same day still, I received a call from the purchasing director of that company to help me – becoming a specialist in a short time in my prospects business: gaining insight I might not even have gathered from my prospect himself.

    One condition of course: to be able to do that, you need to be correct, ethical and helpful to people continuously, if you want former prospects of you (where you lost the sales cycle) to help you like this.

    I hope this experience from the field helps.

    Kind regards,
    Luke – from I don’t know where…

  2. June 12, 2010 at 8:15 am

    this is appreciable.!!!!!!i like it.

  3. June 30, 2010 at 11:17 am

    I find that most prospects want to become part of the selling process. It is much easier to build rapport as a conultant than a traditional salesperson.

  4. virtual sales persons
    October 27, 2010 at 11:06 am

    This is great insight especially for virtual sales persons and cold calling centers.

  5. Mohamed
    December 29, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    “build rapport as a conultant than a traditional salesperson.” a direct quote from Jeremiah’s post above.
    That is a million dollar advice right there. Only few people will understand what exactly that meant
    Thank you Brother

  6. March 29, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    Mike, Joe – have been an avid fan of your podcast. My experience of cold calling for selling IT in G2000 accounts suggests –

    1. Scout your territory – and shortlist target accounts based on annual revenue, install base, industry vertical, number of employees. It is much easier to build traction in a install base versus a greenfield account.

    2. Sales Play book – Prepare a sales playbook based on sales plays for the product you are selling and map it with the title, role, Line of business that would be suitable for that technology. Example – A CFO organization would be looking for technology to make their processes AP, AR cost effective and efficient.

    3. Dial for dollars – Start calling into target lobs within target accounts and ask questions based on sales plays to uncover relevant information and set up follow-up in person meetings.

    This process has helped me cross first few hoops to develop relationships within target accounts.

    Amul Mago

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