At the start of April I was given access to a software service which would allow me to make 150 cold calls in an hour, and gets me into roughly 10-15 conversations depending upon the quality of the prospects on my list.
When I was first given this opportunity, I was very skeptical.
Firstly, because I hate cold calling, for the first quarter of 2017 I had averaged around three calls per day, and I doubted a tool would get me beyond that consistently.
And secondly, everyone I spoke to told me that cold calling was dead and there was no way I could achieve that number of conversations, and if I did, it wouldn't be with the right quality of contacts that would be beneficial to me.
To make sure that I would give the tool a fair chance I committed to making 3000 calls in April, averaging around 150 per day, which took and an average of an hour a day. I'm already two-thirds the way through this challenge, and I wanted to share what I have learned, which has surprised me and may surprise you.
Cold calling is not dead.
Much to the chagrin of many cold calling is not dead. It's the manner in which we do the cold call that is dead. No longer does just dialing through a list of numbers work. People are harder to get in touch with, and on average it took me 15 dials to get through to a conversation.
Not picking up a phone hides a multitude of sins.
When you only do three calls per day, and you're more focused on social selling, this doesn't really help you develop a robust sales process. As someone who works in process optimization, I'm embarrassed to say that not only have I not worked on optimizing my sales process, I didn't really have much of a process to start with. Once you put five times as many conversations through the process, it really allows you to see what's working, and what's not.
You learn far more from a verbal conversation that you do from an online conversation
Interestingly, when someone types no all you can read into that is no. But when you're in a conversation, the tone of the no, the emotion used when saying no all give you some verbal cues which can allow you to look to overcome that no. You can hear it as I don't understand, I'm not sure, I don't think so, or sometimes no really does mean no. By being on the phone, I found I could navigate past some of these no's and start to get a better understanding, which helped me adjust my approach and move the conversation along to the goal I was looking for.
Even some customers don't like the picking up the phone or asking
I received an email from a potential client who had seen me speak, and they were looking to get six copies of my book which had sold out on Amazon, and they wanted to know if I could help. Normally I would have just corresponded by email, but as I was calling people regularly, I decided to pick up the phone and speak to them.
Interestingly, when I told them I could satisfy their demand, they then said to me "oh and by the way, if you're ever in the neighborhood we'd love to take you out for dinner to see how we could work together". I couldn't believe that this potential client wouldn't pick up the phone to ask me about working together, or put it into an email. My only conclusion was that they too were reluctant to pick up the phone. I know one is a small sample, but it's one more than I thought it would be.
C-Suite, SVPs, and VPs do pick up the phone
If you're going to call then the best person to call is the senior decision maker, but if you ask people their thoughts on that the most common response is 'good luck with that, they are too busy, and you will just get stuck in answerphone hell.'
However, that wasn't my experience.
On average calling the most senior people in the company, I averaged speaking to someone ten percent of the time. Not only that, but they were often very open to having a brief conversation.
With just over ten days left on my 3000 call challenge, it has already changed the way think about cold calling. I no longer hate it, I don't believe that it is dead, more importantly, it's actually alive and well and the quicker I can get into an actual conversation, the quicker I can move a prospect through the sales cycle.