Cold Calling is a Must

Whenever I see a sales ad stating that no cold calling is required, I always think that the company placing the ad is missing the point. There is a marketing consultant here in Kansas City that is regularly published in the KC Business Journal. He regularly writes about the fruitlessness of cold calling. In one of my consulting engagements a few years ago, my client and I had met with two senior executives in two large companies that had been found and arranged from my cold calling. Even after we met with them, my client questioned me on the effectiveness of cold calling.

There is a bias and misunderstanding regarding cold calling that I would like to clear up. First of all it works and every sales person should do it and should do it regularly. Second, a cold call stops being a cold call the minute the person being cold called/spoken to becomes interested in the topic being discussed. The reason business consultants and executives advertising for salespeople dismiss cold calling is because they do not like to do it and it can be uncomfortable and difficult to do. Just because you do not like to do something does not discount the value of doing it. To become a good salesperson, a salesperson has to discipline themselves to do the things they do not want to do.

I guess I should be forthcoming here I have my own bias. I started my sales career in college selling encyclopedias door to door. My first job out of college, I sold computers. I did not have a customer in my territory so I had no choice but to cold call and I did plenty of it. If I had my choice I would require every person entering sales to start with a territory in which they had no customers so they had to cold call and cold call a lot.

Here are the reasons why it is beneficial and crucial for beginning salespeople and experienced salespeople to cold call.

1) Cold calling builds character.

I know the word character and selling are not often used in the same sentence but they should be. The process of Cold calling helps the salesperson learn the process of selling from the beginning. The experience of persevering when people are not interested and rude helps the salesperson develop the resolve to sharpen his/her message, become more attentive to how his/her message is received, and introspective about the value of their offering. This period of struggling helps the salesperson develop the character, confidence, and skills to be successful.

2) Cold calling teaches salespeople the right approach to sales.

To be a good salesperson you have to understand that you are fortunate when people will talk to you. Cold calling teaches you this. People do not owe salespeople anything thus when someone is willing to stop and listen a seasoned salesperson recognized this and fully appreciates it.

3) Cold calling teaches the ability to read people and read situations.

Sometimes in the summer I will turn on a KC Royals baseball game and I try to determine whether the Royals are winning or losing from the tone and conversation of the Royal’s announcers. I am pretty good at guessing how the Royals are doing. (Frankly it helps that the Royals lose many more than they win.)

I learned to read people when I first started cold calling selling encyclopedias. People reveal what they think of you and your proposition regularly and consistently while you are with them. You just have to notice their signals and have the courage to address these signals.

4) Cold calling protects margins.

The best way to protect margins is to have a lot of prospects. No need to give the kitchen sink away if you have five others who are close to buying.

5) Cold calling keeps salespeople deeply informed about what is going on in the industry.

The best way to know what is going on in your industry is to talk to customers and non customers consistently.

Selling is a tough job. The ability to bring in new customers is a rare skill. Cold calling teaches salespeople how to bring in new customers and perfect the art of selling. Sure it is hard, uncomfortable, and unnerving at times but so what? Learning any difficult skill requires moments of being uncomfortable, so stop procrastinating and get started, it will be worth it.

Lean, PersistenceDennis Sweeny