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Posted: November 07, 2011

Hey, cold callers - It’s not about you!

Five fundamentals when you call me (or anyone else)

Liz Wendling

Cold calling is still a form of business development, and it won't be going away anytime soon. In some cases, it's very effective; in others, not at all. In the past few weeks, I've gotten a higher number of cold calls to my business than ever before. Most of them were train wrecks, and those wrecks compelled me to write this article. Here's what happened.

I took every call but I found that I couldn't listen to their message without wanting to critique them. I ended each of these calls saying the same thing - "Thanks, but I'm not interested." I gave them the chance to pique my interest, have an open conversation and ask me some questions to see if there was a fit, but they were more interested into launching into their sales pitch. They assumed that I needed what they had to offer. Funny how they knew that when the only question they bothered to ask was "Are you the person in charge of making decisions for the business?"

So, cold callers, I decided to send you a letter on behalf of myself and everyone you call to address some concerns about your approach. An approach that no longer works.

Dear Cold Caller,

Recently you called my office, and I willingly picked up the phone to have a conversation with you. You forgot to ask me if it was a bad time to talk and immediately launched into what you had to say. Instead of finding out what was important to me, you told me what was important to you. I might have been interested, might have listened a little longer and might have given you a referral, but you put up too many roadblocks, walls and barriers for me to do that. You made too many cold calling mistakes, and they cost you this sale and probably countless others.

I don't want to see you keep making the mistakes that compel me and others to hang up or find an excuse to end the call. I am open to hearing about what you offer, but it's not about you; remember, you called me.

If you want your cold calls to turn out differently, please change a few things in your approach. Be willing to stop sounding like everyone else and I'm sure our next call will be different. Below are some suggestions that I and every other person you call need you to consider. I look forward to talking to you in the future.

1. Research me and my company. It's so simple these days to obtain good solid information on a prospect prior to picking up the phone. Do some research on me and my company before you call and start making the assumption that I need what you have. Spending a few minutes on research will yield big results. Otherwise I will know that I am just another number on your call list.

2. Ask me questions. You first question should be, "Have I caught you at a bad time?" Then, if you take the time to ask me questions to find out what I need and what is important to me, I will give you honest answers. If you don't bother to ask these questions, how can you uncover my needs and pains? How can you try to sell me something when you don't even know what I need or want? It makes me feel like you're just in it for the sale, your quota and your paycheck. Asking questions keeps me on the phone with you longer. It works like magic.

3. Listen to my answers. If we're talking and I have something to share, please stop talking long enough to listen to me. Really listen to me, don't just hear the words. When you dismiss everything I say with another reason why I should work with you, I have no interest in you and will rush you off the phone. Reminder: you have two ears and one month; please use them accordingly.

4. Don't tell me you will be in my area. There is nothing worse than hearing those words from a cold caller. I know, and everyone else you talk to knows, that you're not going to be in my area. That sales technique went out in the 80's. It's the fastest, most effective way to induce a hang-up in record-breaking time and shut down our call on the spot. Be honest and ask to set up an appointment if there is any interest on my part.

5. Honor your words. If you declare that you will do something for me, do it. If you say you're going to send me an email with some information or get back to me with an answer to my question, do it. I won't chase you down or follow up with you; that's your job. Why bother calling me if you're going to drop the ball and not follow through on what you say? If you don't, I will know right then and there what it will be like to do business with you. Deal breaker!

If these expectations are too high, or my suggestions are too absurd, stop right now and put me on your do not call list. However, if my suggestions sound reasonable and you're willing to change your approach, then I look forward to talking to you in the future. Thank you.

Cold calling doesn't have to be a painful experience for you or the person you're calling. If your calls are going nowhere and you keep getting the same dreary reactions and results, then your approach is off. There is a fix.

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Liz Wendling is the president of Insight Business Consultants, a nationally recognized business consultant, sales strategist and emotional intelligence coach. Liz is driven by her passion for business and generating results for her clients. Liz understands the challenges that business owners are facing building a business and selling their professional services in today's market.

Liz shows clients how to tap into and use their innate strength, power and confidence to develop highly successful businesses. She teaches them to create effective, dynamic and fluid client conversations that turn interested prospects into invested clients who keep coming back.

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Readers Respond

Well said.. thankyou for your article! By Pam Ross on 2011 11 21
Ahh Liz, you made an article on cold calling interesting ... that amazed me! Great points and you are nicer to mindless cold callers than I am. By TC North on 2011 11 17
Thank you for this article Liz. It gets so frustrating when people are more concerned with their own agenda's then they are with understanding what it is that you need. Now can you go out and train all those telemarketers? By Trish on 2011 11 11
Nice article Cindy. Just sent it off to my business developers. By Mark Kuta on 2011 11 11
Liz, You may remember my name, I have not always seen eye to eye with you about sales people, but your critique here is right on, albeit this is sales 101 in my opinion. Amazing that sales people do not know this. I always thought it was common that sales people read at least one book per year on sales to hone their craft. All I can figure out is that maybe the number of calls to get past a voice mail, the receptionists or to reach the decision maker is so long that once a sales rep gets thru they go on auto pilot with their scripts/selling points. My favorite quote is from Marcus Tullius Cicero who said, "If you are to persuade me, you must think my thoughts, feel my feelings and speak my words." Thanks for the good article. By Ed Collins on 2011 11 11
So true. They are aligned. By liz wendling on 2011 11 08
Hi Liz, I was referring primarily to the body of the article...most of which is what we teach in Sandler. I actually had a client ask me if you were a Sandler Trainer! The title is more generic and thus might apply to more traditional trainers such as Brian Tracy. But happy to see that you and he and Sandler are aligned at least on this topic!! By Debbie Scott on 2011 11 08
Thanks Debbie, Actually its my training with Brian Tracy. Did not know Sandler coined that phrase. Thanks for sharing that. By liz on 2011 11 08
Lizz, Sounds like your Sandler Training really paid off...right out of our 30 Second Commercial! Nice to have a client re-enforce the training outside of class. I especially appreciate the creative way you've communicated this...I get these calls from non-profits all the time and it makes me want to SCREAM! I hope that some of them take your Sandler feedback to heart! Hope to see you in class again soon! By Debbie Scott on 2011 11 07
Nice to have this from the perspective of the potential client. So good, I just forwarded it to all my fundraising colleagues at the University. By Flossie O'Leary on 2011 11 07
You are so right. There are times when cold calling is the first step, but then with research it's a warmer call. As always, an excellent article! By Events Submit on 2011 11 07
Great article, Liz. There's nothing worse than feeling like you are being manipulated and not heard. Thanks to you I expect I'll be receiving a much higher quality of cold calls now! By Julie Hansen on 2011 11 07
Right on!!! I get calls like that all the time and I can tell they are running down a list. It is about ME not them. Thanks. By Steven on 2011 11 07

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