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Posted: June 19, 2012

You had me at hello

Increase your cold-calling success

Liz Wendling

Making a connection remains a crucial skill to possess, whether you’re a salesperson, business owner, job seeker or fundraiser. Picking up the phone and talking to someone in the form of a cold or warm call sends many people into a full-blown panic attack. Some would rather spend an entire day in a dentist's chair than pick up the phone and talk to a stranger.

The majority of successful new business opportunities begin with some form of a cold call. If you don’t know someone and they don’t know you, it’s a cold call. Regardless of how that call begins, it’s icy and it’s up to you to warm it up.  Even if you’re calling a referral and they’re expecting your call, it’s still ice cold and must be treated with precision. Taking an inbound call to your company inquiring about your services is also a cold call. Many salespeople make the fatal mistake of treating warm and referrals calls with a different or more laid-back approach and wonder why their calls go nowhere.

Some companies still use cold calling as a way to generate sales and do it flawlessly. Others are not so fortunate because they refuse to update their approach and create a different sales conversation.

In a perfect world, your phone would be ringing off the hook with new customers who want to buy what you have to sell. The reality is that if you want to increase business, you need to go after the business, and cold calling is an effective sales tactic if it's done properly. Yes, there is a way to do it correctly and effectively.

Done well, cold calling can work.  Done poorly with the wrong approach, can be a waste of time, money and energy.  An effective cold call is about having an initial conversation to see if there is a fit. It’s not about pushing your products or your company. Starting any call talking about yourself, your products or how you can help will never capture someone’s attention and advance the conversation.

Most salespeople start their cold calls with “My name is….I’m with…. we specialize in and we can help you with…”!  With so much to accomplish in so little time, the first words out of your mouth are critical. If you only have a few seconds to grab a person’s attention and make an impression, why waste time with a limp opening?  The call is over before it even starts.  You’ll never have them at hello.

Want to significantly increase your success when cold calling? Stop using the same old tired, weak and overused opening statements that instantly send a signal to the caller that you haven’t revamped your approach in a decade, such as: "Could I have a few minutes of your time?  "Is this a good time to talk?  "How are you doing today?"  "Can I speak to the person in charge of…?” or "I was wondering if you would be interested in ...?” These statements force the person you’re calling to pull the trigger on one of their standard responses, “Thanks but no thanks, we’re happy with who we’re using or we’re not interested.”  If you want to have someone at hello you need to do stop saying things that make them want to say good-bye.

There are many sales trainers that teach salespeople to go into an immediate sales pitch, give a commercial on their company, and talk about all the great benefits their company offers.  Wrong!  Customers only connect and engage when they feel that you understand their issues and problems before you start talking about your solutions.  Again, never push your solutions until you fully understand their problems.

Your potential customers are waiting to be engaged with genuine communication, a fresh approach and a cold call that is different from everyone else!  Do not stay a victim of the traditional cold calling methods – learn to differentiate yourself successfully and learn to capture someone’s attention at hello.




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

We hired a cold calling coach 2 years ago and can’t imagine that our approach would work for everyone. We tried the generic programs and they got us nowhere. One size can’t fit all. It many fit many but not all. Like you stated, diagnosing and dispensing generic information on this subject is not helpful. By dana on 2012 06 19
Cold calls are cold calls. One size does fit all. Just one positive suggestion would have made it seem less like an advertisement for services. Cold calling is hard, and unless there's something everyone else has overlooked... By D on 2012 06 19
I understand what others are saying but don’t agree with them. How could provide everyone the same fix and solution for every business? Thanks for shining the light on a big problem in sales. And thanks for not diagnosing and dispensing generic information. Kate By kate on 2012 06 19
I agree with you Liz. Being in sales and taught sales for many years it’s impossible to tell every business owner exactly what to say in an article of 500 words. You brought it to their attention and there are endless options to choose from. Sounds like the disgruntled readers want you to fix their issues in an article. You are way too much of a professional to diagnose without ANY knowledge of what they sell. Your advice on this one is spot on. Thanks. By steven t on 2012 06 19
Thanks for the comments. I hesitate to tell you what to do when I have no clue what your business is and what you sell. I would rather bring something to your attention instead of diagnosing and prescribing. That is worse. Liz By liz wendling on 2012 06 19
Diddo with other comments--I wonder why you waste my time telling me what not to do if you don't really know what to do. By Misheel on 2012 06 19
In response to earlier comments, I'm reminded of when my brother and I played poker with friends in high school. I'd fold and ask what my brother what his hand was. He'd say, "You gotta pay to see." By Stephen Koenigsberg on 2012 06 19
Based upon the structure of this article, i.e. criticize and then not offer alternative, I'm guessing this is the cold call opening Liz uses when drumming up business,"Hello Mr. Business Owner, all of your sales tactics and practices are weak and worthless. Send me money and I'll confirm my comment that everything you do is weak and worthless." By Rich on 2012 06 19
How about some examples of what to do right? You left me hanging at the bottom... By Larry on 2012 06 19
Nice to be reminded of what not to do. Now how about a suggestion for something that works better... By Doug on 2012 06 19
Right on the money, as usual. I guess they are all cold calls when you really think about it. Gotta go warm up some calls. Thanks. By steve on 2012 06 19
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