How to Lose a Prospect in 10 Seconds. What Not to Do when Cold-Calling

John Tabita

In How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, columnist Andie Anderson (played by Kate Hudson) wants to earn the respect of her editor and get the opportunity to write on more meatier subjects. So she decides to pen an article about what women do to drive men away—a sort of reverse “how to” dating guide. As part of her research, she plans to attract a man and do all the things a woman shouldn’t do in the beginning of a relationship to see how long it takes to frighten him off.

Unbeknownst to her, the test subject she chooses, ad exec Ben Barry (Matthew McConaughey), also has a hidden agenda. In order to convince his boss to give him a prestigious diamond account, he must make good on his boast that he understands women so well he can make any woman “fall in love with him in less than two weeks.” So no matter what Andie does (including Photoshopping their faces together in a bizarre, mutant-like composite “to see what our kids would look like”), Ben hangs in there rather than running for his life like any normal member of the male species would.

I suppose members of both sexes have done things to drive that special someone away and then wondered, “What the heck happened?” So here’s my reverse “how-to” guide for losing a prospect in 10 seconds (or less) when cold-calling.

Start off with “How are you today?”

Pretend that you actually care how he is and completely disregard the fact that the person on the other end of the line knows that you don’t, but now feels obligated to respond with, “I’m fine. How are you?”

Don’t even think about the fact that you just wasted seven seconds of his time or how this is even more annoying than if you just got right to the point, told him why you’re calling, and asked for the appointment.

Ask “Is this is a good time?”

Or an even better question is, “Did I catch you at a bad time?” Since you’re an intrusion, you need to give your prospect every opportunity to get rid of you before actually telling him why you’re calling. After all, it’s the polite thing to do.

As an added bonus, you can also let your prospect know that you appreciate “how busy he is” and that you’ll “be brief.” The beauty of this technique is that, while promising to be brief, you are actually wasting even more of his time.

By combining this with the previous question, you can manage to take up 45 seconds or more before ever getting to your point.

Don’t Use a Script

Convince yourself that using a script will cause you to sound “like I’m reading a script.” Completely ignore the fact that writing out in advance what you will say and then practising it so you sound completely natural is more effective than just “winging it.” Never mind that actors get paid millions of dollars and win Academy Awards for doing just that.

Just Open the Yellow Pages and Start Dialing

Since buying a list costs money, go ahead and use the Yellow Pages to call from. Define your target as “small to medium-sized businesses,” or better yet—“anyone who needs a website.” Convince yourself that targeting a niche or segment will cause you to “miss somebody” who might want or need your services.

And don’t even think about targeting companies who are similar to your best clients (assuming you even have any clients), because that type of research takes time.

Agonize over How You Are “Bothering” People

If people get annoyed because you called, be sure to dwell on this rather than what you’re trying to accomplish (i.e., finding new clients). To ensure you sound properly apologetic, use wishy-washy phrases like “I’m just calling because …” and “I was wondering if …”

Avoid Calling “Too Often”

After you’ve called once and think the receptionist might recognize your voice, be sure to wait long enough for her to forget before calling again. (After all, receptionists have nothing better to do than memorize the voice of every telemarketer that calls.) Better yet, if you can’t reach the decision-maker after the first call, just don’t call them again. Ever.

Be Very Indirect when Asking for the Appointment

When you do reach a decision-maker, it’s important that you feel very guilty about “interrupting” them. To convey your sense of guilt, make sure you’re very indirect when asking for an appointment. Rather than a direct question, such as, “I could meet with you one day this week. What day is good for you?” say something like, “I’m not sure if that’s something you might be interested in, but I was wondering if maybe we could meet sometime.” Then scratch your head in confusion when they tell you they’re “not interested” and hang up on you.

Take “No” for an Answer Every Time

Be sure to ignore the common objections you’ll most often hear, because trying to overcome them would be … well, rude. Never mind that 25 percent of the appointments you set will be with people who first told you “No.”

Don’t Invest in Any Type of Training

Completely ignore all of the training resources and programs that are available. And don’t even think about taking a temporary, part-time sales or telemarketing job to get some actual experience, because that would be “absolutely ridiculous.” Come on, taking a sales job to get some sales experience? How preposterous.

Give up and Conclude that Cold-Calling Is a “Waste of Time”

Hey, you gave it your best shot. Just go back to what you were doing (if anything) and hope for the best. And be sure to be extremely rude to any telemarketers who have the misfortune of calling you.

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  • Karin

    I think anyone who’s actually a living, breathing human being is going to try to *gasp* CONNECT *gasp* with the other living, breathing human being on the other end of the phone line… Now maybe YOU don’t give a crap about how the other person is, but when I ask “how are you?” I mean it. I AM genuinely interested in other people. If you’re not, shame on you. (And you can darn well bet I’ll hang up on your uncompassionate ass when you call!)

    So, seeing as how these are all such dire no-no’s, let’s hear your version of the perfect call…… ;-)

    • Muditha

      How can you care for a person that you have never met? Get real.

    • John Tabita

      So what you’re saying is, if you got a call like this:

      Hi Karin, this is your mortgage company. With the lower interest rates, we could save you $300 a month on your mortgage without extending the term of your loan. Is that something you want?

      … you’d refuse to do business with them simply because they didn’t first ask how you were?

      The first 45 seconds of a cold-call is not the time to show genuine interest or compassion. I get to do that after we’ve established a relationship and I’ve learned about his problems, needs and pain, and can offer a solution.

      ”Now maybe YOU don’t give a crap about how the other person is, but when I ask “how are you?” I mean it.

      It’s not about you. It’s about the person you’re calling.

      Ask your self this: How similar are you to the typical person you’d be calling? Do you own a business with 20+ employees, have production schedules to meet, labor concerns, the IRS on your back or worries about how you’re going to make payroll because business is slow? Do you suppose this type of person would welcome a call from a complete stranger asking how he is? Do you really think he wants to *gasp* CONNECT *gasp* with the other living, breathing human being on the other end of the phone line?

      No, what he wants is for you to never have called. But, he may also have a want or need you can satisfy. So the most compassionate thing you can do is get directly to the point by clearly stating how you can help his business, and ask if he has a need.

      In business, you should treat others in the way they want to be treated … not the way you want to be. So asking “how are you?” to this type of person is more about satisfying your own need to show how genuinely interested you are, and not the needs of the other person.

      • AnilG

        Absolutely, John. This is such a productive topic to discuss. Like you said, “It’s not about you, it’s about them.” Cold callers have got to stop ‘manifesting’ their guilt and their own needs! That’s what’s given cold callers a bad name.

        It’s such a completely incorrect presentation of “compassion” to argue that the cold caller is genuine in his or her feelings. If a missionary goes to Calcutta and “genuinely” feels “compassion” for all the poor people he or she meets but doesn’t actually FEED them, then very little real compassion has actually happened.

        The cold caller who cuts straight to the point and offers the business owner a cost/effective benefit is like a missionary offering food to the poor. That’s real compassion demonstrated in real terms.

  • Simone

    As a sole trader, I loathe telemarketers.
    If it was one call every now and then, it wouldn’t be so bad, but the number of people who waste my time trying to convince me to change my phone provider, ink cartridges, website etc is incredible. The quickest way to lose me as a prospect would be to cold call me, period.

  • Alexandra

    The day I need to place cold calls to drum up business is the day I hang up my shingle. I try to treat people the way I want to be treated, thus, telemarketing is not a viable marketing option.

    • John Tabita

      Alexandra,
      That’s a valid point-of-view. I’ve said before, if you are happy with the amount of business you have, then why cold-call? It’s effective, but it’s not easy.
      If you ever actually do come to the point of having to either close down your business or make cold-calls, you may feel differently, however.

  • Textfriend

    I think all the Indian call centres do use exactly the opposite of these techniques. They talk at you no matter what your response because the script says so, they don’t interact with you at all as a person and basically it’s talk until you hang up or buy.

    I suppose it’s like any marketing – only of use if you reach and engage viable prospects.

    • John Tabita

      You make a good point. The purpose of a script (and it should be a short script) is to get the interest and attention of someone who has a need, so that you can interact with them as a person. Once someone does engage with you, you should be having a normal, natural conversation at that point.

  • Gemma

    Firstly, thanks John. I have really been enjoying these cold calling articles. It certainly is nice to have a take from someone who has actually been there when you are at the start of setting up a business and wondering where to get clients from if you’ve run out of friends, family and acquaintances to ask, especially in a massively saturated market like web design and development.

    One other route I would certainly take if I wanted to lose as many prospects as possible is to withhold my number; I ignore all calls which flash up as “Unknown”, because those calls generally equal “generic sales douche”. I can imagine that’s a standard for many people who run businesses.

    I think it’s important to point out here that most people who complain about cold-calling (and I know, I’m one!) are complaining about the lack of focus the product or service has to them, not to mention the awful sales tactics employed by a number of people in these positions. It’s important to realise that this is a viable and inexpensive way of contacting people to promote a service that you really believe in – yours. It doesn’t involve printing out reams of leaflets then paying extortionate costs for postage OR dropping by a potential client’s businesses (which often isn’t feasible anyway) demanding their time there and then. Calling someone gives them the opportunity to NOT answer, surely that’s nicer?

    Out of interest, and especially for the people who are opposed to the idea of cold calling, can I ask what other techniques you employ that are winning you clients?

    • Stevie D

      No, the reason I complain about cold calling is because it’s an appalling way for a customer to do business. If I want to buy a product or service, I’m setting the agenda. I choose what I want, I decide when I want to buy it, I allocate time when it is convenient to me. I set the specs that I’m looking for, I compare prices between different suppliers, I ask the questions that I want to ask, and then when I’m ready to make a decision, I go for the purchase. I’m in control.
      When I’m cold called, even if the product or service they’re trying to foist on me is something that I might be interested in, they’ve taken that control away from me. For a start, it’s usually not a convenient time. I’m probably busy, I’m almost certainly not in the right frame of mind to get what I want out of the conversation. I won’t be properly prepared, I won’t have the questions I want to ask ready, I won’t be in a position to compare it to other suppliers’ products or services, and I’m pressured into making a decision based solely on the fact that this company was the only one inconsiderate enough to phone me up out of the blue.
      No thanks. When I want to buy something, I am perfectly capable of doing that. If you cold call me, I can guarantee that I won’t be buying from you, regardless of how good your offer is, because I refuse to support a business that uses such unethical and underhand tactics.

      • Gemma

        OK, that’s fair enough Stevie. We’re each entitled to our opinions, and I think you’re correct to insist that you not be called by a company trying to sell you products or services whether or not you need them.

        That being said, I personally will only ever call companies whose number was in the public domain; I would never choose to call the private number of an individual because that is firstly plain invasive, and secondly that’s not my client base.

        *BUT* my main question is still left unanswered…

        What OTHER techniques would you suggest a freelancer use to drum up business that are cost effective AND work?

      • http://smallbusinessmarketingsucks.blogspot.com/ John Tabita

        “When I’m cold called, even if the product or service they’re trying to foist on me is something that I might be interested in, they’ve taken that control away from me. For a start, it’s usually not a convenient time. I’m probably busy, I’m almost certainly not in the right frame of mind to get what I want out of the conversation. I won’t be properly prepared, I won’t have the questions I want to ask ready, I won’t be in a position to compare it to other suppliers’ products or services…”

        You’re right … during that initial call, most people are busy and not in the right frame of mind to make a decision. With consultative selling, it’s rare to close a deal on a single call. The initial objective is to set an appointment with someone who may be busy, but has a need and would like to talk further.

        If you are targeting your local market, then you want to set an appointment for a future face-to-face meeting, so the prospect can be prepared, ask questions, and so forth.

        Does it work? I’ve done it and so have thousands of others. I have a team of 8 people who do it on a daily basis. They generate hundreds of thousands of dollars of sales revenue every year, selling advertising products similar to what most people here offer.

        “If I want to buy a product or service, I’m setting the agenda. I choose what I want, I decide when I want to buy it, I allocate time when it is convenient to me. I set the specs that I’m looking for, I compare prices between different suppliers, I ask the questions that I want to ask, and then when I’m ready to make a decision, I go for the purchase. I’m in control.”

        I addressed this in my second cold-calling article. That’s only the case when know you know you have a problem, can describe it to yourself, and know where to look for the solution.

        The problem with advertising/marketing services is, busy decision-makers and small business owners never say to themselves, “Gee, business is down. I think I need to advertise. I’ll call Stevie D and buy some SEO and advertising services from him.” They have no clue how to solve this problem. In fact, most small business owners think that the solution to “business being down” is to cut back on advertising. Cold-calling provides the means to offer your services to those would never even think to call you.

        “…and I’m pressured into making a decision based solely on the fact that this company was the only one inconsiderate enough to phone me up out of the blue.”

        As a former business owner, I feel completely the opposite.

        If I had a need and someone happened to call, I think, “Wow, they had the nerve to call me out of the blue. They must really want business bad enough to prospect for it.”

        That actually causes them to stand out over the company that took the easy route by putting up a website and then expects me to navigate through it, find what I’m looking for and then have to call them. If they’re too lazy to prospect, what kind of service will I get from them? That’s how I look at it.

  • AnilG

    I’ve done cold calling and I take cold calls. I do actually appreciate the service. The caller may have something I need or whose service terms and pricing I can bench mark off.

    Those call centres where they seem to be paid to never, ever let go of a call, and don’t know how to leave a script to actually negotiate, are just different.

    But Karin is obviously a cold caller who likes to chat. I guess she may be an effective telemarketer for market segments that also like to chat, but I just totally agree with John, points 1 and 2 are absolutely correct.

    I already don’t get enough time to engage personally with my team mates. I don’t want to spend unnecessary time with a cold caller. And it’s already a bad time to call so just get to the point because a call back will take even more time.

    These are all good basic non-controversial rules for professional cold calling.

    And for Alexandra who says she’d never ever use cold calling, maybe its worth considering there are people who got married to someone they met from a dating site that swore they’d never ever use a dating site.

    • John Tabita

      “Those call centres where they seem to be paid to never, ever let go of a call, and don’t know how to leave a script to actually negotiate, are just different.”

      Good point. These call centers are really “call factories” where, similar to a factory assembly line, calls come at you via an auto-dialer. You are not allow to deviate from the script one bit and you’re required to respond to a minimum of at least 2 objections. Work for a place like that, and I guarantee you’ll be suicidal in less than a month.

      We’ve all been solicited by these type of places so, if you’ve never had any experience with it, you’ll lump all cold-calling in this category and say, “Forget it. I’ll never do that.” But you have the opportunity to set yourself apart by not doing any of the things these places do.

  • Sam Parmenter

    I can’t see how you have done anything here but really misunderstand the reasons for your success in cold calling. You phone enough people up then you will get someone to bite. You may feel like you are masterfully manipulating someone but the chances are, you were lucky.

    Half of your points seem to ignore the fact that most people want to work with a company that is friendly and polite. You don’t have to memorise someone voice to be able to remember that you have spoken to someone before; their mannerisms, tone, everything about they way they speak will twig in a decent receptionists brain.

    If a company has a good receptionist then they will have an opinion about the caller at the other end and if they come back to their boss with “so and so called but they were quite rude and short with me and only seemed concerned with selling” then you are unlikely to get a call back.

    • John Tabita

      “You phone enough people up then you will get someone to bite. You may feel like you are masterfully manipulating someone but the chances are, you were lucky.”

      Hmmm. I guess I better let everyone in the department I’ve been running for 3 years know how “lucky” they’ve been. I suppose we should all start looking for other jobs before our luck runs out and the owner of the company fires us.

      It’s neither luck nor manipulation. You can’t force or trick anyone into doing something they don’t really want to do (at least not for long, and not without it backfiring on you eventually).

      Selling and cold-calling is full of manipulative tactics, but that’s not what I’m advocating. A good cold-call is an honest interaction, telling the person why you are calling and asking if he has a need and wants to meet. Where’s the manipulation in that?

  • alchemyst

    You may as well be a spammer! The response you gave to one who said they would never cold-call could be re-phrased as “If you ever actually do come to the point of having to either close down your business or spam, you may feel differently, however.”

    How low are we willing to go to get the business we need? Cold-calls, spam, black-market SEO, domain-squatting; like the guy above, I think I would find a new profession or get more training to better compete than do any of the above.

    • http://smallbusinessmarketingsucks.blogspot.com/ John Tabita

      The difference being, spam is wrong because you must obtain emails through unethical means. Whereas business phone numbers (unlike private email addresses) are public, published information.

      You’ve lumped cold-calling with unethical practices like spam, but that’s precisely why spam doesn’t work. It’s also why cold-calling does because—when done properly, honestly, and respectfully—it‘s a completely ethical practice.

      That’s why you don’t see any respectable sales professionals, consultants or bloggers advocating spam, because it’s neither ethical nor effective. The only ones making money off of spam are the people selling spam lists to unsuspecting marketers looking for overnight success.

      Many freelancing sites do recommend cold-calling. So for those of you who are looking for a place to get started, there’s some good advice on these websites:

      Freelancing 911: Turn Your Business Around With Cold-calls

      Use Cold Calling as a Freelance Designer

      Small Business Forum: Cold calling for a web design firm

      How Old-Fashioned Marketing Can Supercharge Your Design Business

      5 Steps to Cold Calling Your Way to More [Freelance] Business

      • Simone

        I disagree with the assertion that cold-calling is not spamming because the phone numbers are in the public domain.

        I run a business from home, and initially I made the mistake of using my home phone number as my business number, and it was published in the yellow pages.

        Two years ago, I purchased a separate phone number for my business (though Skype), and I cancelled my Yellow Pages ads. So, the only number in the public domain is my new phone number, on my website. My home phone number has been on the Australian Do Not Call Register for 2 years.

        Yet I still receive numerous calls to my home phone, at all times of the day, from companies (usually overseas) who want to speak to the business owner. When I tell them it is not a business number but a private residence, they argue with me! My phone number was lifted from the Yellow Pages and made it onto a list that has apparently been sold. (I get heaps of spam offering to sell me such lists too.)

        So to me, cold calling is very much equated with spam. The companies that call generally don’t do their homework – they’ve never checked my website, or even if I have a website – and I´ve even had a company whose services I have used cold call me twice, giving me the same script, even though I was an existing customer! Guess which company I’d now never recommend for that particular service?

  • Nico

    Interesting subject for sure. But I just wanted to congrats the author for the way the article was written.
    Im actually selling a website on Flippa right now, that writes articles with that How Not To approach and I think it makes the articles really interesting to read.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks so much for this information. My first experience with cold calling was not so good. I was working a sales position and had to go by a script. I got go confused and lost, I didn’t know where to start or where to end the conversation. Needless to say, I didn’t make any sales that day. I have gotten a lot better since then. I find that asking the person on the other end are they busy, really does let them know that you realize they are a busy person and you care about their time. For me it makes me feel like they know I’m not trying to be a bother. I have an upcoming interview for a sales position soon, I have to do some practice calls and I will be keeping these tips in mind :)

    • AnilG

      Anon, I had the good fortune to work under a great sales manager. I think it makes a lot of difference when you’re new to cold calling. The script is there to start you off and provide a list of points you want to cover, but as soon as the prospect starts asking questions you need to start re-arranging things to suit their specific needs. You can always return to the script if they hand the lead back to you.

      I would like to bring you back to the article though on your comment. I would avoid asking them if they’re busy. When I get cold callers who ask me that I immediately think “I’m always busy”. It just causes a problem for the call and starts to waste time. I’d rather the caller just quickly summarised what they’re offering so we can both decide as quickly as possible whether I qualify or close the call.

  • Stevie D

    Give up and Conclude that Cold-Calling Is a “Waste of Time”
    That’s the only good bit of advice you’ve given there.
    You got it absolutely right when you said
    Do you really think he wants to *gasp* CONNECT *gasp* with the other living, breathing human being on the other end of the phone line?
    No, what he wants is for you to never have called.

    Nobody likes cold callers. Pretty much no-one has anything but contempt for cold callers. And there’s a good reason for that. Cold calling is an entirely negative business. The tiny proportion of people who actually buy anything resulting from a cold call are usually conned into buying something sub-standard, overpriced or that they don’t actually need. The vast majority of people who are not dumb enough to be suckered in rightly object to being interrupted and having their time wasted by someone who is trying to con them out of their money and pretend that they are doing them a favour in the process. And the cold callers themselves are usually stuck in an awful job that they utterly hate.
    There are plenty of worthwhile jobs out there. Not glamorous ones, often low paid and maybe unpleasant, but I doubt they are actually as bad as spending your whole time pissing people off and then having to explain to a sadistic boss why you haven’t hit your impossible targets. So if you’re a cold caller, why not try a useful job; a productive, positive, constructive job that has some benefit apart from making money for the boss. Your karma will quickly recover, and you’ll be making the world a happier place.

    • Gemma

      I think you completely miss the point of the article.

      Cold calling is a completely valid way for businesses (especially small businesses and the self-employed) to gain OTHER BUSINESSES as clients. This isn’t endorsing cold calling private numbers. This isn’t endorsing target-hungry tools who are forcing their products on to just about anyone who gives them the time of day. This isn’t endorsing large-scale, Bangalore-based call centres whose sole purpose exists to manipulate you to change your mobile phone provider or take out a loan.

      Unless you are a business owner yourself, it’s unlikely that this will ever seem like a good idea. It’s certainly one of the areas I never planned for when I set up my company, and was very reluctant to even consider doing this myself because I too despise the stereotypical sales pitch of some random person pretending they give two hoots about me and my loan repayments/internet service provider/electricity bill when all they want is the cold hard cash that comes from a conversion.

      I have a decent service to offer people, and where my market is quite highly saturated with similar firms of varying quality, I need to do something more than twiddling my thumbs, selling my service to friends and family, waiting for potential clients to find my website through x amount of Google search pages and affirming myself in the mirror every morning that I *do* deserve to be successful, because it’s simply not enough.

      • http://smallbusinessmarketingsucks.blogspot.com/ John Tabita

        “…affirming myself in the mirror every morning that I *do* deserve to be successful…

        Now there’s a marketing strategy I haven’t tried. Too funny…

      • Gemma

        “Now there’s a marketing strategy I haven’t tried. Too funny…”

        Yeah and trust me, it works about as well as scratching one’s rear end with a teapot.

      • AnilG

        Rather than missing the point of the article I think Stevie D is missing the whole point of cold calling. Perhaps a few bad cold callers spoil it for the rest.

        The whole point about business is that we are a community and we need to work together. It often pays to specialise because there are cost and quality benefits. We don’t bake our own bread because someone who specialises in that does a better job and does it quicker and cheaper than we do.

        Cold calling is a community activity. It’s a team activity, regarding the entire economic community as a large scale team. Communication of opportunities and services is a difficult but important activity in our large economies. Telemarketing is primarily about communicating services and therefore opportunities.

        The business that’s got the sense, energy and ability to cold call you may just be the business that’s actually got it together enough to offer you a cost saving benefit that you haven’t been able to get from the larger well known businesses that you normally buy your supplies and services from.

        One thing I’ve learnt from this article is how mis-informed some people are about telemarketing. I’d be interested to know the numbers. Has anyone done a large scale survey about attitudes towards cold-calling? Is it just a vocal minority we’re hearing from here or are these attitudes widespread?

        I wonder if it’s quantifiable how many telemarketing calls are “bad calls” too? Are there any surveys about how the majority of cold calls are conducted? Can we say that “customers” are justified in their attitudes because, say, over 80% of the cold calls they receive are conducted so badly that it’s hard to identify if there’s a benefit or they’re unable to realistically work out if the prospect qualifies? Stuff like that?

    • http://smallbusinessmarketingsucks.blogspot.com/ John Tabita

      “…why not try a useful job; a productive, positive, constructive job that has some benefit apart from making money for the boss.”

      I hate to break it to you, but if you’re employed at a company as a programmer, designer, or SEO specialist, you’re also “making money for the boss.” You can be sure that he’s putting more money into his pocket than you are, by selling the work that you actually do.

      People who sell over the phone are salespeople … and salespeople earn commission. I worked with one who made over $80,000 a year, and another who made nearly $70,000 working part-time, selling a legitimate service that many homeowners want and need … not something sub-standard or overpriced that they were conned into. They never had to explain a thing their “sadistic boss” (actually, he was a great guy to work for). And here’s a shocker: both of them loved their job.

      The bottom line is, your statements about cold-calling, telesales and appointment setting are completely false, and you are stereotyping the people who practice it … simply because you are contemptuous towards those who do it.

      Emotions and stereotyping aside, the facts about cold-calling tell a different story. Just because I’m Italian doesn’t mean I’m in the Mafia. Just because my parent’s friends think “the Internet is a fad” because they don’t use it, doesn’t make it true.

      • !

        Still, I havent received a cold call that hasnt annoyed me, both personally and professionally. Who knows, one day…

  • Geoff

    Consider cold call process like landing page copy or any other good sales copy.
    – Has a headline, after all if you cant get there attention there you haven’t got them.
    – Get permission/involvement
    – Ask qtns (This info helps with the benefit tie in)
    – Benefit orientated
    – Future pace (talk in benefits for the prospect like they are already getting them)
    -Only “sell” the next step. If it was a landing page you would probably sell a free ebook, webinar etc…not the $5k package.

    My 2c anyway.
    BTW: Track your results like you would your website stats…
    Best time to call is before the receptionist starts work (The biz owner is usually there and just after they would go home, again teh biz owner is still there)

    I know 1 in 8 calls is an info pack, 1 in 8 packs is a meeting, 1 in 3 meetings is a $30-50K sale. Yep it works.

  • Vendere Partners

    I once read a great quote; I can not remember who said it but it really hit home. “Those that hate cold calling hate it because they can not do it well.” As someone who does telemarketing my goal is to gather information for my client that will determine if there is a potential fit or not for my client’s service. I do have a script and can sometimes go off the path because of the direction of the conversation.
    I do understand that you are not expecting my call and I respect your time and try to be as brief as possible. I understand that people on the other side can/usually are have a bad day; I understand that I am calling at a bad time, and I understand that you are typically doing two other things while I am on the phone with you.
    I only ask questions that are relative to my clients service and will ask anywhere from five to 10 questions (unless your are interested in my clients’ services) and it usually takes anywhere from five to ten minuets.
    If it is not a fit; then it is not a fit. I will thank you for your time, genuinely tell you to have a great week, and get off the phone call.
    That is a formula that works well for me and I have found it to be the least intrusive.
    If you want to learn more click look us up at http://www.venderepartners.com/ . If not have a great day!

  • John Tabita

    @Gemma

    “*BUT* my main question is still left unanswered…

    What OTHER techniques would you suggest a freelancer use to drum up business that are cost effective AND work?”

    That’s the second time you’ve asked that question after one of my cold-calling articles. It was never answered, and you concluded that the people who were so opposed and offended by the idea of cold-calling were probably working for someone else and not self-employed. You are right when you said that unless you are a business owner yourself, it’s unlikely this will ever seem like a good idea.

    The reason this question goes unanswered is because there is no single magic bullet. You said it well when you wrote, “I need to do something more than twiddling my thumbs, selling my service to friends and family, waiting for potential clients to find my website through x amount of Google search pages and affirming myself in the mirror every morning that I *do* deserve to be successful, because it’s simply not enough.

    You’ve made some good points, and you seem like you’re searching for some answers. Because I want to help point you (and any others like-minded) in the right direction and not leave you hanging, I’ll answer your question in my next few posts … so stick with me.

  • WishyWashy

    Actually, I found your “reversed angle” approach to reporting the issue at hand quite difficult to grasp! When I read something, I prefer to not have to think about it too much, giving me time to digest what has been written. However, your off-beat approach to this really important topic has made reading something on the web even more challenging! Just my 2 cents worth.

    On a positive note, some very good points. Now and again, you need a gentle reminder to help you stick to what it is you’re actually trying to achieve. And, this article has helped.

    Cheers,
    WW

  • powerpotatoe

    Helpful article. I’ve even found the comments helpful because you explain well why these tactics do not work. I like the reverse approach in the article, but it was difficult for me to follow. When I’ve thought about how to cold call, I’ve thought about using the practices that you advise to avoid. Thanks for offering some advice from experience. Very helpful.

    • http://smallbusinessmarketingsucks.blogspot.com/ John Tabita

      Yes, just look at everything I’ve listed as what not to do if you want to be successful.

  • HealthyPickyEater.com

    As Seth Godin talks about permission marketing, saying, “it’s not just good manners, it’s profitable…”

    So how do you do that on a cold call?

    • http://smallbusinessmarketingsucks.blogspot.com/ John Tabita

      If you cold-call and they say “yes” to an appointment, they’ve giving you “permission,” haven’t they?

      Permission marketing is a wonderful thing when your your potential prospects are engaging with you through various online and social media. But if they’re not, how will you ever gain their permission, unless you initiate contact with them?

      I talked about this in Why Prospects Aren’t Looking for You: The Myth of the Self-Directed Buyer. Check it out and tell me what you think.