A Cold Call Dissected

Thanks for checking in on our second answer to the survey question “what is holding you back from having the best year yet!” Last week we answered your most pressing question of creating a plan. You can read the answer on this blog post.

This week I thought I would tackle your second most pressing question. “How do I make effective prospecting calls that engage the customer and make them interested in talking to me?”

Don’t forget that this Thursday (January 20th) I will be answering ALL your questions on a free call focused on making 2011 your best year yet! You can join us by registering at www.engageselling.com/bestyet. The call is free, all you have to do is invest an hour of your time with me. I know you will find that hour worthwhile – and profitable!

As you can imagine, I get the chance to review a LOT of telephone sales calls. Some are sent to me by our coaching members to review, some I listen in on during a live call coaching session and others are those that arrive in my office unsolicited. The unsolicited ones are usually the worst. At the top of my list this week is the one that opens with “Can I speak to the head of the household please” – But that is for another time!

A great line will open doors engage the customer and land you more business. A bad one will cause those doors to shut faster than you can say, “Hi, I’m Tim, and have I got a deal for you!” So how can you go about crafting an engaging opening statement? The best way to improve is to first recognize what’s wrong with your existing opener, and then take the appropriate steps to correct it.

Get rid of the clunkers: pruning your sales vocabulary

Let’s start with the following example. Say you finally get a decision maker on the phone (I know that’s tough these days!) and you lead off with:

“Hi, this is _______ from _______. We’re in the business of _______. Are you the person who handles that?”

UGH! I think we can agree that this isn’t exactly a killer opening. What makes it so bad?

Just consider a little Psychology 101. People would rather not talk to sales people they don’t know. I bet even you, a professional sales person, avoid talking to sales people you don’t know. This fact is as natural as it is unavoidable. An opening statement like the one above announces your intention to try to sell something to the decision maker, triggering a defensive posture and moving them into a negative frame of mind – you know, the one that says, “Darn, it’s a sales person, how do I get them off the phone?”

First step – find out who’s the right person to talk to before you pick up the phone. Start by reviewing the corporate website, getting a referral or calling other departments (Sales, HR or the Help Desk) within the organization to determine who the decision maker is.

Second Step: Get specific – OK, so what should you do? When the decision maker answers, go directly into something like:

 “Hi Chris, this is _____­­__ from _______. Our manufacturing clients tell us that we help them _______ by _______. How are you currently _______?”


 “Hi Chris, this is _______ with _______. We work with (CEOs, IT Directors, etc) to help them _______. I understand that you maybe _______ and there’s a possibility we may be able to help you _______. Does it make sense for me to ask you a few questions now to see if we should talk further?”

Of course, these statements are generic, and I promise to get more specific on our call January 20th. I suggest that you tailor or customize your opening with information collected before the call through conversations with other people in the company or by reviewing their website or quarterly 10Q SEC reports (if their firm is publicly traded on a US stock exchange).

Touch on results they’ll have interest in. I’d also recommend scouring the local and national newspapers for stories that might include or affect your prospects, so you can use that news in your opening. By showing that you know just a little bit about them when you call, your prospects will be much more likely to engage in a meaningful conversation.

Remember: potential customers will always be much more impressed with how much you know about them than with how much you know about your product. Here are a few more specific examples of successful opening lines:

“Hi Chris, this is Colleen from ABC Staffing. We work with VP’s of HR to help them find the right talent for their organizations quickly while guaranteeing the right skill match. I understand you’re expanding your Toronto organization and there may be a possibility that we can help you with your recruiting. Does it make sense for me to ask you a few questions now to see if we should talk in more detail later?”

“Hi Chris. This is Colleen with ABC fencing. Our manufacturing clients tell us that we save them money each year in lost and damaged goods by implementing secure perimeter fencing at their factory sites. How are you planning to secure the new plant you’re building in Baltimore?”

More often than not, it’s the little things that make all the difference between success and failure. A few awkward or stumbling words, a mispronounced name, an inappropriate question or just plain being under-prepared or too long-winded can create a bad first impression, and lose the sale. Sometime, it’s something as simple as removing “How are you?” from the beginning of your opener (an real idea by the way, that Engage clients have found increases their conversation rates by as much as 25%).

Be sure to join us this Thursday (January 20th) hear about the top 3 ways to make 2011 your best year yet….including more detail on to learn more about how to warm up these cold call calls, I will be answering ALL your questions and you can join us by registering at www.engageselling.com/bestyet. The call is free, all you have to do is invest an hour of your time with me. I know you will find that hour worthwhile – and profitable!

Dedicated to increasing your sales!




10 responses to “A Cold Call Dissected

  1. I have been in need of this for quite a while. I am writing a college paper about this and this is going to help me. Appreciate it.

  2. Questions and more questions about how to cold call… Of all the sales techniques and sales tips, advice about cold calling is the most futile. Why bother? If salespeople learned how to get referrals, they would find that a referral program equips them to sell more and work less.

    A referral means you have an introduction. Then, when you call your sales prospect, he knows who you are and wants to talk to you. Voila! No sales tactics. No gatekeeper. No voice mails that don’t get returned. No more cold calling. You arrive pre-sold, shorten your sales process, ace-out the competition, and convert that sales prospect to a customer more than 50 percent of the time. No other sales strategy come close to referral marketing.

  3. I hate when people keep cold calling me, it is really bother, it just makes me want to jump higher and scream out loud. this is a great article about sales people.

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