The secret to cold calling

phone-for-cold-callI got another cold call yesterday, one of the dozens I take every week at work. If I spent the requested amount of time with each caller–Can I take ten minutes of your time? When can we set up a half hour conference call? I’d like to have a fifteen minute chat to assess your needs–I’d never get anything done. Besides that, if it’s not in the budget, I can’t spend it. If I’ve never heard of it, I’m pretty sure I didn’t put it in the budget. The result? I’ve perfected an extensive repertoire of ways to say No, thank you, firmly and politely.

Once in a while I will actually listen to someone’s pitch. The rules are thus:

  1. I’m actually in the market for the product or service. (Slim chance, but it happens occasionally.)
  2. The product or service is on my radar as a “might need later” and I want to do some homework. (Totally at my discretion; the caller has no control over what bounces around in my head.)
  3. The caller has taken some time to understand our business BEFORE he calls. (The name of my company can be misleading. A 2-1/2 second visit to our website will eliminate all confusion about what we do.) This isn’t always a guarantee that I’ll listen, but getting it wrong is a guarantee that I won’t.
  4. Having the particular caller/caller’s company as a contact might benefit me in the future–or ticking him off might burn a bridge.
  5. You’ve already done me a favor somehow.
  6. I have some time to kill. (Fat chance–just making sure you’re paying attention.)

Cold callers have no control over items 2 and 6, but items 1, 3, 4, and 5 offer a sliver of hope. The secret is doing the homework. Calling me from a database list will never work; I’ll be able to tell right away. It honestly ticks me off when someone assumes I work for a power company just because the word “electric” is in its name.

However, if the caller has taken the time to find out what I do, what my company does, and hone in on the areas where there’s either a glaring need or a strategic fit (which may not even be today but could materialize in the longer term), then maybe–just maybe–we have a place to start.

But, dear cold callers, you have to work fast. You only have SECONDS to get my attention when I answer the phone. That’s why doing your homework is so important. I’m not going to give you my time to figure it out; you have to use your own. If you have to do it, the calling should only be cold for one of us. I’ll give you a hint: you should already be warmed up.

P.S. Don’t ask how I’m doing today when I don’t even know who you are.

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