Emails, phone calls, social media marketing are all valid ways to make connections. But no matter how many ways technology creates for us to connect, nothing can replace face-to-face, hand-to-hand contact.
As a sales consultant, I occasionally go into the field with sales reps I'm training to show them how to make cold calls. In some cities, including Washington D.C., the security is tight and it might not be easy to gain access to companies. That said, I've made thousands of face-to-face cold calls throughout my career and have never been thrown out of an office.
Here's a good example of how a cold call can lead to new business: During a recent cold call to a skin care company, my client and I came through the front door of the office and introduced ourselves to the two women answering phones at the reception desk. My opening question was, "Hi Christine, I was wondering if you could help us out." Before we told her about our business and asked to see the decision maker, I asked her about the company products on display in the front office. Her face lit up as she described the skin care product line and how the company markets them.
It turns out that Christine was the manager of media operations at the company and knew a great deal about the business and the industry. She told us that the company did most of its marketing through direct response and radio ads. So I offered to connect her with another client of mine that could help her create a free platform to promote the products.
Finally, Christine asked me and my client what we did. When my client told her he provided IT services, she picked up the phone and called the head of the IT department. He came right out, gave us a quick tour of the offices and warehouse, and invited us to sit down in the conference room. The rep and the IT director realized they had grown up in the same town and connected immediately. Before we left, the director asked the rep to put together a proposal.
Not all cold calls turn out this well. But they can be an effective part of your sales strategy. On your next cold call, keep these key points in mind:
1. Never underestimate the person sitting at the front desk. They may have more knowledge or influence than you think.
2. When speaking to the person at reception, always use his or her first name in conversation. It's one of the nicest sounding words they know.
3. Start by asking the receptionist if he or she can help you out. It starts off the conversation on a casual, positive note.
4. Be aware of your surroundings, including pictures, awards, and anything that might get people talking about something they're proud of.
5. If possible, ask for a tour to gain access to other people and places in the company. You may see opportunities to add value.
6. Introduce your prospect to other clients who might use their service. In my experience, that's one of the best ways to build trust and add value.