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What is the purpose of a cold call?


iStock 000018134007XSmall We throw the term “cold calling” around a lot in sales.  But very few of us ever stop to ask ourselves, “What does cold calling actually mean?  What is the purpose of our cold call?”  Most people recognize that you don’t want to ‘sell’ in your first call.  But if that’s the case, what do you want to do? 

The purpose of a cold call is to engage a prospect in a conversation about their needs and determine next steps.

This purpose statement is sneaky good because it seems obvious at first, but as we break it down there is a lot more here.  You probably notice three primary pieces: conversation, needs, and next steps.  Let’s unpack this sentence to derive insight into what good cold calling is really about.

  1.  Engage in a conversation.  By definition a cold call is to a person who is not expecting your call.  This applies to cold prospects, people who respond to a marketing campaign, and clients that you call out of the blue.  If they don’t know you’re calling, guess what…it’s cold.  Cold calls start as a monologue with one person (you) talking.  The best cold callers are able to use call openers, 3x3 Research, and teaser questions to turn the monologue into a dialogue.  In a dialogue two people are engaged in a conversation which is, of course, our goal.
  2. About their needs.  This is a tricky one.  At the start of a cold call you are catching the person unprepared.  There is zero trust.  In all likelihood you have not earned the right to ask probing questions about their needs and pain points.  You want to keep the focus of the conversation on the prospect while at the same time saying something about your firm in a way that earns you the right to ask questions.  The best cold callers are able to frame talking points in client voice, articulate a crisp differentiated value proposition, and then earn the right to develop needs through breadcrumb and interrogative led questions.  The goal is to ask questions to learn about their world and develop their needs.  Easier said than done in a cold call.
  3. Determine next steps.  Most people agree that a cold call is successful when you get the appointment.  But is a live, web, or phone meeting the only successful outcome?  Time is the enemy of the salesperson.  The best cold callers are able to get prospects to open up and talk.  This allows these rock star salespeople to quickly qualify their prospects to see if it’s even worth their time to continue the process.  The next step of a cold call is analogous to a marketing offer.  In his webinar on the Importance of Sales Operations, Ken Krogue of shares that the cold calling offer can be a meeting with you the salesperson, but it can also be to drive them to a webinar, or to invite them to an exclusive event.  At the end of the cold call you hopefully have some understanding of where the prospect is in the buying process.  This dictates the appropriate next step – get a meeting, call back later, or another creative offer to advance the prospect from business as usual into an active assessment of their needs. 

How do you define cold calling?  What is the purpose of your cold calls?   



This is really great and useful content as I make several cold calls a day.
Posted @ Friday, May 04, 2012 11:39 AM by Thomas Frank
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