Why Cold Calling Doesn’t Work

Why Cold Calling Doesn’t Work

Marcus Cauchi

Did your mum tell you “Don’t talk to strangers.” Great advice for a 3-year-old; terrible advice for a 40-year-old telecoms rep trying to pay a mortgage. “Don’t interrupt” or “Go away, I’m busy” are other examples of scripts you’ve probably had running in your head for years.

Cold calling accounted for 43% of new business generated in the UK according to the DTI. So, it’s working for someone. Just not for you? Why?


Cold calls that sound like cold calls cause the recipient to find reasons to end the call, to find causes of objections, to pass the buck to an underling and to cut the call short. “Hello, Mr. Jones. Bob Jones? This is Mike Winner. I’m calling from Death Wish Telecoms and I’d like to talk to you about our new black box that can save a company like yours in the recruitment sector up to 17.46% of your company’s line rental costs and 1.37 pence per minute. I’m sure a progressive FD is interested to find ways to cut costs. I’m in your area on Wednesday. When would be more convenient for us to meet, 10.45 or 11.45?”

Meanwhile Mr Janes is thinking “This oaf doesn’t know my name, he’s stolen my time on this call, he’s peddling something I get offered every week and now he wants my time for a meeting to sell me something I don’t really want. What can I say so I don’t have to sound mean and say “no” that will get rid of him?” Speak to Bob Smith, my telecoms manager? Not now, call back in 6 months? Send me some information?

Most ‘effective’ cold calls last less than 90 seconds (dials, where the decision maker is actually reached). Why?

Precisely because they sound the same as every call they’ve heard before. Because the caller answers questions, focuses on their products or services, sells features and benefits, and is so relieved when the prospect gives them an “out”, they can’t wait to get off the phone too.

First names only, open with something they’re not expecting, get permission. “Bob, it’s Marcus. Were you expecting my call?”

“No? Well I guess this has become a cold call. I hate making them as much as you hate receiving them…. I don’t suppose I can take 30 seconds to tell you why I’m calling and then you can decide if we talk further? Is that reasonable?”


Lead With Their Pain

“We help finance directors in recruitment companies who are frustrated because downtime can cost them as much as £250 per hour per person in lost fees. Others are worried by increased maintenance costs as their phone system ages. A few worry about their liabilities under new health and safety regulations but I don’t suppose you ever suffer from any of these issues, do you?”


Amplify Their Pain and Go For Their Diary

“You picked lost fees. Why did you pick that one?” “Why’s that happening in your organisation? What have you already tried to do to fix it?” “Get your diary out. What day are you looking at?”


Lock Them Down for Commitment to Avoid Cancellation

“I can’t make Tuesday, give me another date.’ “Wednesday, that’s even worse, look I can’t ask you for a third date, let’s go back to Tuesday. What time?” “2 to 3 o’clock? Are you going to be in your office for the next 15 minutes? Because I’m going to have to move a couple of meetings around to accommodate you. Before I do, is there any reason you might have to cancel or no show on me?” “I’ll call to confirm once I’ve moved them. Is that OK?”


Setting the Rules … Your Rules

There’s one final component to the cold call, but I’ve run out of space and a great rule of selling is never, ever answer all the prospect’s questions. Keep them wanting. More on the up front contract next month. Why’s it so important to contract every time you meet or speak to your prospects and customers? Why must you set the rules for each engagement and above all remember ‘you can never blame a prospect for doing something to you that you never said they couldn’t do’?

Remember as the seller, you have rights. Agree them, enforce them.


“I’ve been cold calling for 6 years and I’m pretty good at it. But Marcus’s approach helped me get a meeting with the first person I called and on my 3rd effective I got a meeting too. It was so easy.”

Roger Werret, Sales, Edge Solutions


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