Cold calling · Sales

Cold Calling Companies

Aleksandra Czajka Freelance Senior Software Engineer, Developer, Web Developer, Programmer - Full Stack

May 20th, 2014

What are your opinions on cold calling potential clients? I'm not asking about calling individuals, like to buy a fabric softener, but, a specific department at a company, for example. It doesn't even have to be too aggressive... just to, for example, set up another time to chat about an opinion about your product, service, etc. 

Do you have experience with this? Was it success, failure? 

Have you yourself received cold calls at your office? Did you respond?

And, if you have not received cold calls, would you be potentially receptive to them or would you be put off?

Alan Schunemann CTO and Co-founder of eTelemetry

May 20th, 2014

I've had success "cold calling" to generate business in the network appliance world. If you hire a company, be sure to invest time in developing the script, especially the qualifying questions. Also take the time to script objections and responses.

Rob G

May 20th, 2014

cold-calling is difficult and has an inherently low success rate.  The less "cold" the higher your chances of success.  "success" depends on a number of factors: 
1.  who you are calling on,
2.  what you are selling, 
3. your value proposition.  
4. how well you have done your homework. 

If you choose to use cold calling and you want to maximize success then DO YOUR HOMEWORK.  There is nothing more frustrating than interrupting your day to listen to someone who has no clue about how to make your job easier, faster, more profitable, etc.  Put yourself in their shoes - ask yourself "why would i take any time out of my crazy schedule to spend x seconds on the phone with a stranger?"  The answer is probably something like "if i could tell within the first x seconds that this person knew my business/job and the pains i live with daily, then i might keep listening or at least be open to additional information."  So your job is to know their business, know the individual (via linkedIn, FB, trade groups, etc.) and know their pain.  This means your typical sale needs to be worth the time you will spend on homework.  If a sale is worth $500,000 and you want to cold call someone in the 'C' suite then take a day or 2 or 3 to learn all you can.  If a sale is worth $5,000 then you can't justify much time and your success rate will be less.  The other key is they have to like you - that's tough in just a few seconds.  So in something less than 30 seconds you need to pique their interest, prove you know their pain and prove that you are likable.  

Tactically, remember that execs are likely to have gate keepers, an assistant who screens calls, emails, etc.  It many cases it makes sense to call on the gate keeper first.  This is not a substitute for homework however.  Also, you would be surprised how, relatively speaking, easy it is to cold call a CEO or chairman of the board.  Most sales people put them on such a high pedestal they rarely attempt to call.  Many CEO's like a sales person with the guts to call on them, but you had better have your homework done.  Also, if you can't get to your intended prospect, try calling on a sales person or VP of sales in the company.  They walk in your shoes all day themselves and if you can show that you have done your homework they will often help you. Just ask them "if you had to sell to your company how would you do it"?  One avenue to understanding a company and the pain an individual employee is feeling look for public reviews of the company and/or products.  A company that show repeated complaints about product quality or customer services or shipping or order accuracy, or a competitor is rapidly taking market share is a company ripe for a solution to make those public problems go away.  figure out how you can help. 

John Anderson

May 20th, 2014

When I receive cold calls at work I never answered them.  Many times they were pushy and I didn't want to have others hear me "arguing" with a very aggressive cold call.  But, what I would always do is listen to a voice mail that they would leave.  In fact, a few people called me very regularly, I didn't answer, but I would listen to their voice mail.  it's almost as if I had a relationship with the person via voicemail.  I was thinking this could almost evolve into a marketing practice such as "Voice Mail Marketing".  

If you are going to cold call, I would suggest have a strategy for a very informative voice mail.  Almost expect not to get through and have a plan for a voice mail that would give information, and offer a compelling reason to call back.

Jeb PhD Decision & Data Scientist / Experimental Psychologist / Business Intelligence

May 20th, 2014

I've done a fair bit of that type of calling. My personal experience has been that if you don't have a sufficient network to be able to sell directly into your contacts in the space, it means your competitor is the one with all the contacts. 

Of course there are exceptions, but selling outside-of-network I've seen it take one or two years of selling to start getting paying clients... as they say, an "overnight success" takes five to ten years.

Ramesh Barasia Certified Business Coach | Help Business Owners Get More Money, Time, & Freedom

May 20th, 2014

Yes, I have experience with using cold calling for setting up appointments. The success rate is very low so you have to be patient. It is a law of large numbers. The script and methodology is extremely crucial. I have received cold calls many times and have not accepted any - mostly these were for BtoC where the success rate is even lower but again the pool is larger. BtoB works better but with well prepared script and approach. *Ramesh Barasia* CEO, The Alternative Board North Atlanta 205 Bright Water CV, Suite 100 Johns Creek, GA 30022 Office: 678-812-1201 | FAX: 770-521-5307 Mobile: 770-309-3971


May 20th, 2014

Coincidentally, the most recent episode of Growth Hacker TV (which I watched yesterday!) interviewing Scott Britton deals with this -- note that the focus is more on "cold e-mails", but he talks about when he makes the phone call (he uses an email or two to try to set the stage first). 

I thought he had some great suggestions, so posting here (note that I think these are free to watch for a while but then go behind a paywall):

Shira Schindel Director, Business Development & Author Engagement at Litographs

May 20th, 2014

Depends on the product. If it is relevant to me/us. Shira

Stephen Huson Leader in Internet lead generation, SEM / PPC / SEO and analytics

May 20th, 2014

Cold calling is a critical business development / sales strategy in some business segments.  Sometimes it can be very effective, though I agree with Ramesh that the success rate is very low. The value of this approach is also very dependent on the product, the value of the sale, etc. If the sale is very high value, then cold calling is best to set appointments, in other cases it can be to more quickly lead to the sale.

I receive many cold calls from sales people.  Personally, I do not generally answer my desk phone unless I know the calling number, specifically because I don't have time for the cold calls. In rare instances, I will follow-up from a cold call or cold email with the person if I'm particularly interested.

Ed Dubrawski Entrepreneur / COO /CEO

May 20th, 2014

Aleksandra, IMO Sales guys are not going to cold call if they have a bucket full of leads. I am a fan of being deterministic in managing one success and cold calling is part of that but its not easy motivating the team do do so. Success and failure are based on many factors, the individual, the client's current pain, the pitch and message, etc. I respond to cold calling especially if the person has done their homework. Hope that helps, Ed

Manny Acevedo Business Systems Analyst & Entrepreneur

May 20th, 2014

I have experience in both cold calling & cold emailing. Cold emailing has been way more successful, especially if you write it correctly and don't bore them with how awesome you are.  Cold calling does, but the numbers are very low. 

I have found MUCH more success generating leads by hyper targeting media buys, driving traffic to a landing page with a video and  a appointment setting form, then talking to the ones that set an appointment

I would like to point out that I'm not sure what you men by "just to, for example, set up another time to chat about an opinion about your product, service, etc."  Do you mean appointment setting to get them on a later sales call? If so, you can have someone do that and you can pay them on the # of appointments set + a base if you like. However, the method outlined above is cheaper and way more scale-able.

I find that if If you can't get them to set an appt ( or take an action like signing up for a webinar ) in a 30 sec to 2 min video landing page, you probably can't sell them and need to work on the pitch a bit more. Also, with this method, you can split test and crunch as many numbers as you like to tweak your message