Cold calls are incredibly intrusive because they aren't sensitive to your customer's schedule," says Dave Rogers, president of Information Control System (ICS). To make sure his Charlotte, N.C., data-processing consulting firm shows total respect for the client, he maintains a database that includes communication preferences for each client.

ICS contacts customers only when and how each prefers to be contacted. At the end of the first sales call, prospective clients are asked what forms of communication are convenient, including options such as lunch meetings or E-mail. Secretaries are also a good source of information. Some contacts aren't choosy, but knowing which ones are is important. And this sensitivity continues long after the firm lands the account.

"Each client's personality is unique," notes Rogers. "Some like breakfast meetings, some prefer an end-of-the-day drink, some need daily reassurance, and some just want us to do our work without bothering them. By keeping close tabs on the time, form, and frequency of communication that works for the customer, we understand how the client operates. The end result is that we add value to the relationship because we don't aggravate the buyer."

Copyright 1997 G+J USA Publishing