Making Cold Calls Work Part 2

March 15, 2005

Turning Cold Calls into Warm Calls

By: Matt Michel

Cold calling is tough, but it does work. It works with homeowners. It works with businesses too. During one of my business trips when I was a consultant, I had a couple of clients cancel meetings. I still had to make the trip for the other clients and had already bought my plane tickets. I could sit on my hands during the downtime or try and do something productive. I ended up making cold calls.

The fact that I was in town from a city a thousand miles away made it easier. It gave me an excuse to make the cold call.

I trolled in to the right person and proclaimed, “I’m in the area meeting with XYZ Company and have some free time. I know this is short notice, but I wondered if you might have a few minutes so that we could meet face-to-face. We can talk about our GeeWhiz service and I could learn a little about your needs.”

Most of the companies I called were busts, but two were not. One of them resulted in a $90,000 project around six months later. The other seemed to go flat. Still, I followed up and lo and behold, I recently learned that a $50,000 project resulted, some three years after the original cold call.

Most people won’t cold call. Most salespeople won’t. They just can’t seem to screw themselves up enough to actually do it. While nothing’s more terrifying to a salesperson than cold calling, few things are more satisfying and empowering than doing it successfully.

Some companies have it down to a science. Recently, I paid significant tuition to a new approach from a Kirby vacuum cleaner rep.

My wife has been in the market for a vacuum for more than a year. Yet, as long as the old one seemed to sputter along, the need wasn’t urgent enough to act. Kirby came knocking, knocked her out of her complacency, and knocked our bank account out of a fair chunk of cash.

The brilliance of the Kirby rep’s approach was that they didn’t use their salesperson to make the cold call. They hired a college age woman to knock on the doors. Think of the coeds that come knocking every year trying to sell magazine subscriptions and you get the idea. She was probably far more effective than the salesperson simply because she was less threatening.

Answer the door and she would explain that a Kirby rep was in the area performing product demonstrations (note the excuse to knock on the door) and ask if you would like to get one room in your home cleaned at no charge in order to demonstrate the effectiveness of the vacuum cleaner.

My guess is that most people who took advantage of the offer were thinking about a new vacuum. Tell her okay and she would radio the truck to stop by our address after the current demonstration (or cup of coffee in the coffee shop) was complete.

When the salesperson arrives, it is no longer a cold call. It is a warm call with a likely prospect. While the salesperson is demonstrating the product, the coed is going from door to door with her free offer.

This could work for just about any business with a little creativity. A plumbing contractor could use it to set up a demonstration of a reverse osmosis water purification system. An air conditioning contractor could use it to offer an energy audit or to demonstrate the effectiveness of an electronic air cleaner. A furniture restoration company could use it to show how an old piece of furniture could be made new.

Not only does this make life easier for the salesperson, allowing him to stay in his comfort zone where he’s more effective, it’s more efficient. The salesperson is spending his time selling, while the scheduler is doing the grunt work.

Because the scheduler is only setting appoints using the excuse that there’s a truck in the neighborhood while they’re working the area, the pressure is lessens for the scheduler as well. It’s a brilliant approach. It’s much simpler to find an outgoing, exuberant person who will knock on doors than it is to find a qualified salesperson in your industry who will do the same.

Source: Comanche Marketing. Reprinted by permission.
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Copyright © 2003 Matt Michel

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