The art of the cold call

As a high tech sales rep. you are required to make many cold calls. The main problem with cold calls is not the call itself but getting past the receptionist. There are many interesting ways to get to the person you need to speak to.

The telephone is undoubtedly the most cost-effective way to

contact a buyer. However, buyers often create filters and gatekeepers to screen their calls. The following is a list of tips that will be very handy when you need to increase your chances of getting past these types of filters.

Your my best friend

Ask for the buyer as if you were calling your best friend “Good Morning; is Jennifer in?” DON’T say, “My name is so and so.” DON’T give a company name. DON’T say: “I’m calling for.”” If the receptionist has revealed his/her name, say, “Hello, Pat; is Jennifer in?”

Turn the receptionist into any ally

Be very cordial and use the first name of the receptionist when they tell you what is. Also say “Kim, if you were me and needed to speak to Mr. Morris, what would you do?”

Avoid a direct response to a receptionist’s screen

Receptionists have three questions in their repertoire to fend off sales people: Who’s calling? What company are you with? What’s is about? That’s the bad news. Here’s the good news. Many receptions don’t fit with those questions. Consider these responses to the typical screens:

  • I’d be happy to tell you, but it’s important I speak to her directly.”
  • “I’m not exactly sure.”
  • “Do you think this will take long? I’m calling long distance.”

Throw the receptionist off balance

Make the receptionist move away from the typical questions by introducing some “pattern-interrupt” phrases:

Here is one example:

Receptionist: “”Thankyou for calling ABCXYZ Company.””

Sales Rep.:””Hi, is Jennifer in?”

Receptionist: “”What company are you with?”

Sales Rep.: “”I have to have a company?”

Receptionist: “”What’s this about?”

Sales Rep.: “”I’m not sure, that’s why I’m calling her.”

The cold letter or unsolicited letter can be very fruitful, but sometimes sales reps send out letters to prospects with little or no response. This is what you may be doing wrong.

Think, for a moment, about all the unsolicited, prospecting letters you receive. How many do you throw away before you even open them? How many do you toss before a quick glance? Here are some ideas to get better response from the letters you send.

  • Use Plain Envelopes without windows.
  • They should say “open me” not junk mail.
  • Don’t fill the envelope with inserts.
  • Limit yourself to one short brochure and even a post-paid mail back.
  • Address the letter to a specific person, not occupant.
  • Try and print the address on the envelope, instead of using a label.

Michael Atkinson has more than 20 years of sales experience in the channel He started his career with a small computer reseller in the early eighties and quickly moved up to executive positions at Computer Brokers of Canada now Tech Data Canada and ViewSonic Corp.

Today, Michael works as a management and sales trainer for ProServe IT. His seminars cover many topics focused on business communities, Chambers of Commerce and Associations.

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