How to Ruin a Cold Call Opportunity

Joe D

Sometimes the best way to learn how to do something is to look at the mistakes others have made and see how you shouldn't do it. Let’s focus on five of the biggest mistakes that marketers make when trying to take advantage of a cold call opportunity via social media networking sites, targeted mailers or even other traditional methods used in marketing.We've all done these - just remember not to act in haste and remember what an opportunity each call represents. Since they are targeted calls [and they better be ;-D ], make each one carry the weight of a personal meeting.

Mistake #1 - Assume

We all know what happens when we assume. Sadly, many business owners do it all the time and wonder why they aren't getting more positive results from their marketing efforts. You should never assume that people will be interested in what you have to say - or sell. Even if it appears that you have much in common with one another, or that you are in similar business circles and industries, you should never assume that they will return the interest or have the time to make a connection.

SOLUTION: When this happens - and it will - don't let it get you down. When you make your cold call contacts use good manners, offer solid and valuable information and be persistent.

Mistake #2 - No Real Connection

Some marketers work on the 7-11 theory. If you build a store on every street corner, sooner or later they are going to come in and buy something. However, in the world of cold calling, it is important to contact individuals that you share a connection or interest with in some way. Some marketers will just go down a list of names and e-mail addresses or leach onto their friends' social media contact list, spamming their business or website with no real method to their madness.

SOLUTION: Make sure the connection makes sense and is relevant to what you are proposing; either via past relationships, mutual colleagues, niche market or B2B service and need.

Mistake #3 - Be Rude

We all have busy days that get quickly eaten up with e-mails, phone calls and other interruptions. No matter what method you use to approach your prospective contacts, you will be taking time out of their daily schedule. Some marketers are rude, pushy, take too long to spit out what they are trying to propose and/or don't even follow the rules of good business conduct. Think about how you would like to be approached, how quickly you just wish someone would cut to the chase and what you would want to get out of the situation.

SOLUTION: Be considerate, courteous, use good manners, be specific and succinct and make sure to thank your contacts for their time. Good business etiquette goes a long way.

Mistake #4 - Wasting Time

Have you ever sat down to dinner with your family and had it interrupted by a cold call from a telemarketer who wanted to sell you something you couldn't use? How responsive were you to the phone call? How did you react and treat the caller as a result? Why would you expect to be treated any differently by a contact or customer if you bring them an offer that is not worth their while, something they would never be interested in discussing in a million years?

SOLUTION: Contact people that you know will benefit from the proposal, offer, product or service you are selling. Using business-based services like LinkedIn can help you fine-tune the needs and interests of your contact list.

Mistake #5 - Be Cold and Impersonal

A cold call doesn't have to be cold. Some marketers think they will win new customers or clients through the use of canned, spammy wording instead of targeted, personal messages. Spammy messages are a dime a dozen. Our inboxes are full of them every morning and you only need to take a moment to look at Twitter or Facebook to see pages and pages of poorly worded posts and tweets that quickly become missed opportunities. Think about it from your own point of view: would you respond to a canned message from someone you don't even know?

SOLUTION: Make sure you add a personal tone to each and every contact you make. Target your message as much as possible to each individual in a unique way to increase response.

Remember that everyone you call should be interested in what you are recommending, and if the timing is not right for them to purchase, how you handle the contact can always make or kill the possibility of referral business moving forward.

Always introduce yourself. I learned that in the fourth grade where we did mock etiquette calls. How many times a day does someone call you and ask for a manager or you by name and not identify themselves? This really puts me off.

Always acknowledge that you understand you are interrupting their work flow, and if now is not a good time to speak ask to set up a scheduled call.

Do your research in advance – be familiar with their website, business model, and problems you could help them solve before you ever dial their number.

Reduce your offer to bullet points, but not to the point that it sounds scripted or read from note cards! Make it conversational.

Above all, LISTEN. Don’t be so focused on your elevator pitch that you miss cues from the prospect because you are not listening to them. Now get on the phone!