Cold Calling in the 21st Century – A White Paper Review

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I recently ran across an interesting white paper that connected two articles that were previously published here on The HUB – Claire Waggoner’s “The Key to Sales Success: Pick Up the Phone” and my review of Jill Konrath’s e-book, Cracking the LinkedIn Sales Code. Gretchen Gordon of Braveheart Sales Performance is offering her paper, Cold Calling in the 21st Century, at their web site, and I found it informative and useful.

Notice I didn’t say comfortable. The reason for that is she touches on some particular issues of mine regarding cold calling, and forces me to acknowledge what I don’t want to – that full disclosure is not always the best tactic right out of the box when leaving a voicemail, and being persistent on a daily basis works.

These are issues that I have wrestled with throughout my sales career, and experimented with when developing a tele-sales center some years ago.

Gretchen maintains that there are two types of messages – marketing messages and sales messages. She says too many of us leave marketing messages, offering what is at this introductory point gratuitous information about who we are and our products and our company, etc. What we’re doing, in reality, is providing a list of reasons not to call us back. “I never heard of them,” or “I don’t need that,” or whatever. She says it is better to remember the purpose of the call – to move the target to the next step, a conversation. For that reason, she suggests leaving short, confident, informal, even familiar messages like “Hi, Mike. This is Jim. Give me a call back when you get a moment at …”

The second point she makes is the frequency of calls. She says every day until you’ve made six calls without a conversation. I’ve always let two days go by to lessen the nuisance factor, but Gretchen has some real test data to support her conclusions. In a controlled test, they found that they achieved an 11% contact/conversation rate using the daily sales call process. At the other end, the place where a lot of us reside, is the infrequent marketing call technique. That achieved a 3.5% success rate.

So, if you want three times as many cold call conversations, it seems that short and often is the way to go.

OK, so where does LinkedIn fit into all of this? Quite simply, research. And sometimes introductions. Knowing something about your target gives you a head start when you do have the conversation, and an introduction from a common acquaintance makes it more likely you will have it. That is Jill Konrath’s thesis as well, and she goes into a lot of “how to” detail that you will find useful.

Good stuff, all of these articles – Claire’s, Jill’s, and Gretchen’s.

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