I’d Rather Staple Bacon to My Face than Make a Cold-Call

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In 2008, Eyes on Sales featured an article entitled, “Why Decision Makers Hate Cold Calls.” If you want to be convinced that cold-calling doesn’t work, that it’s a colossal waste of time, and that it’s the most “ineffective and costly” way to find prospects, then go ahead and skip what I’m about to say and go directly to that article. (Just be sure to read the numerous comments from people who vehemently disagree with the author.)

On the other hand, if you’d like to explore how cold-calling can be a great way to find new clients, then stick around, because that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

Let me share some of my glorious first experiences with cold-calling. When my partners and I began our web development business in the beginning of 2001, cold-calling was one of the things we tried early on. Without much of a script and absolutely no plan, we opened the phone book and started making calls.

In spite of that, we actually landed two clients! Quite pleased with ourselves, we imagined we were on the road to success. But when reality set in, we realized that they were very small projects. A few weeks into one of them, the client (who had yet to provide us with written copy), began complaining that we were taking too long. After supplying the copy, she proceeded to demand that we get her site up immediately. We refunded her deposit instead.

After much reflection (actually, not that much), we decided cold-calling wasn’t the way to go.

Today, I am the sales manager of a telemarketing department, so I know a thing or two about cold-calling. But ten years ago, our ignorance and subsequent failure caused us to conclude that we were “doing the wrong thing,” when in reality, we were “doing the thing wrong.”

How do I know that, under the right circumstances, cold-calling is the “right thing” to do? Because of the results my department gets. Here’s a sampling of what three telemarketers did one particularly good month:

1,618 dials
203 conversations
86 appointments scheduled
27 closed sales

Let’s look at some of those numbers. Out of 1,618 calls, we talked to one decision-maker approximately every eight dials, and we set one appointment for every 2.4 decision-makers we spoke with. And those 27 sales? Well, they represented a dollar-value revenue of five figures. How’s that for an “ineffective and costly” way to find prospects?

You see, for companies like ours, cold-calling and cold-canvassing are the best prospecting options available. Our sales cycle is short, so reps don’t have time for things like networking and relationship building. Even for businesses that can afford to try other methods, cold-calling is still a good thing to include in your marketing mix.

You may be wondering how the words “bacon,” “staple” and “face” ended up in the same sentence—much less what it has to do with cold-calling. You’ll just have to stick around for the next few posts to find that out. In part 2, I’ll talk about how you can determine if cold-calling is a fit for the web industry (hint: it is) and how to make it work for you.

John TabitaJohn Tabita
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Former owner and partner of web firm Jenesis Technologies, John is currently Director of Digital Strategy at Haines Local Search, a company providing local search marketing solutions to SMBs, including print and Internet Yellow Pages, web design, and local SEO. When not working or spending time with his family, John offers great sales and marketing advice on his blog, Small Business Marketing Sucks. When not working or spending time with his family, John offers great sales and marketing advice on his blog, Small Business Marketing Sucks.

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