Tuesday Morning Focal Point

Cold Calling 101 – a course in business development

Course Syllabus – Cold Calling 101

A discussion I had with a CEO about the great success of cold calling has inspired today’s blog.  I often get asked by my clients, particularly those in start-ups or doing sales, what I think of cold calling.  The truth is, I believe in doing whatever works.  That doesn’t sound very expert of me, does it?  Notwithstanding, I think there are better ways to sell than through cold calling.  Though I happen to have a client who uses cold calling every single day, with a success rate of 20% with respect to moving an opportunity to a quote.

Although not the purpose of this blog, let me just say that strategic networking is, in my view, much more effective than cold calling.  Moreover, there are things we can coach on and teach to salespeople that help them turn cold calls into warm calls very quickly. These are for another discussion.  (Oh, and let me add, most salespeople don’t actually have a good understanding of where in the sales cycle their greatest strengths and weaknesses are.  Those are things we ascertain for our clients through psychometric testing.)

Course Content – Cold Calling 101

If you are a startup and are motivated to sell and grow your client base, you may certainly cold call.  This particular executive is a man in his mid-30’s. He took over a family manufacturing business about a dozen years ago.  This gent was attending university and intended to go into dentistry.  However, after completing undergrad he decided it was time to make some money, so he joined the business.  In a very few short years, his father handed him the reigns.  This new executive was not satisfied with the current volume of work.  So, he decided cold calling was needed.

Course Results – Cold Calling 101

The most important cold call he made, which became a complete game changer for the company, was to the Disney Corporation.  (You might be noticing a blog trend here, I am a sucker for a good Disney story). He sought out and went and met with a key official at Disney.  Completely unprepared and unseasoned, he simply said, I’d like you to give us a try.  Disney said yes and gave him an opportunity to manufacture a few tiny little metal and plastic parts for a few amusement rides.

Prior to this, the company did most of their work for the oil and gas industry.  This would soon change.  Indeed, Disney became their largest client and remains their largest client today.  They literally manufacture 100’s of thousands of small parts every year for Disney.  Cold calling changed the fortunes of this company. This company is now a significant “go-to” supplier for Disney’s manufacturing.

This CEO reflected to me that the reason he decided to make cold calls was that he knew he had nothing to lose, but a lot to gain.  He was very clear in his mind that if Disney said no, he would be no worse off than before he made the call.  Cold calls can indeed work!

I had nothing to lose

Cold Calling 101 Assessment Plan

  1. Make sure that you are at least considering if and how cold calling can be part of your business development strategy. Although this approach does not always provide the best ROI, sometimes just one call can be a game changer.
  2. To improve your cold calling chances, do some upfront research to better understand which potential buyers or clients have a legitimate need.
  3. To further improve your chances of turning cold calls into warm calls quickly, show your prospect that you have well thought out how your product and service offerings can improve the prospect’s condition. Be prepared to articulate.
  4. Speak clearly and confidently about your company’s brand promises. Brand promises are the things that differentiate you and your company. A new buyer can be guaranteed they will experience these promises by choosing your brand.
  5. Finally, be equipped with meaningful testimonials. Have proof of how you helped provide value to other buyers/clients with similar needs or challenges.

A good business coach can assist you with preparing for your cold calling strategy upfront.

Cameron is an Executive Coach and Consultant specializing in business growth and creating psychologically healthy workplaces.