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The Lost (and Found) Art of the Cold Call

Yeah, yeah, we’ve heard the complaints. We know about the cold-calling recruiters who abuse the privilege. The day interrupters who bluster in with ill-informed descriptions of corporate expectations — and scant expertise in assessing whether the guy at the other end of the line is equipped to fulfill them. These are the bad apples of our industry, the glorified telemarketers who are hell bent on making quota — and on dragging the entire orchard down with them.

The fact remains, however, that there is some seriously good fruit to be had in the cold-call crop. These are the professional firms that understand the nuances of the stuff; the serious organizations with abundant respect for the powers of clear communication, personal attention — and the efforts that may be required of them to reverse the effects of the pesticides the last guy sprayed all over the place.

Here are four things that separate the sweet from the sour in a typical harvest. The good cold-calling apples understand that:

  1. They must connect with the right audience (i.e., the individual who oversees the service or product they’re looking to sell). Such direct connection will ensure that the perceived level of harassment of their advance is negligible.
  1. People actually like to be sold to — provided the pitch in question is aligned with their interests. When such a matchup is identified, the client generally doesn’t even realize he’s the target of a sales pitch, so intrigued is he by the simpatico buzz he’s riding.
  1. Their value-add is exposure to something new (companies, services, products, pricing or overall market intelligence). The bearer of novelty is always welcome.
  1. They must always be prepared. They must be professional, know the client’s pains as well as possible, and anticipate nothing more than 30 seconds in which to make an impression. To follow, they must demonstrate their appreciation for the time the prospect has given them. Gracious appreciation always packs a good punch.
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