Ah, the cold call. For better or for worse, it is the ultimate sales challenge. For some its a frightening experience, for others it’s a thrill. Some sales people swear by them while others loath the very thought of the dreaded “drop in” sales call. Certain sales folks feel that it beneath them, and not an effective use of time. But for many more it’s a necessary evil and the only way to uncover new prospects.
There has been a lot of discussion lately on the fate of the cold call. Many claim that cold calling is dead. Others will say that the cold call is and always will be an important part of the sales game. No matter what side of the debate you land on, most sales experts today will tell you that cold calling is highly ineffective. The time / value equation just doesn’t provide the justification. It is however, still a key element (aka. requirement) in most sales organizations.
As many of you know, I have a outstanding team of absolute Sales Rock Stars. They know the sales game well and are extremely good at their craft. Recently I was traveling with one of my reps and it was the end one of those frustratingly long days with not a lot of success, it was time to call it a day.
Earlier in the day I had notice a building that I thought might present us with a opportunity and I had mentioned that maybe we should go in and check it out. Sensing a “ya, whatever tone”, he said we have a busy schedule but if we have time we could do a quick pop in late in the day. Now I’m not a big proponent of cold calls but being an old school sales guy with a sense for opportunity, something was telling me we needed to go in that building. Besides, I have always enjoyed the challenge associated with the cold calling process and since this was the first time traveling with this particular rep, I wanted him to know that I could keep going all day. Nobody out works the Zim-Master.
As we finished our scheduled calls, I asked my rep if we could go back by the building and maybe take a look around to see what we might be able to uncover. He seemed somewhat hesitant, as we were both tired from a long day, but he reluctantly agreed. As we were looking at the directory of occupants in the building, I suggested he just pick something. He selected a department that he felt held the best opportunity for us and away we went.
As we enter the office, It was the typical setting, late in the day, quiet, with no one seeming around except the receptionist at the desk. We exchanged pleasantries while introducing ourselves and ask if their might be someone available for us to talk with. She takes our business cards, flashes a bright smile, stands up and casually walks away. After a couple of minutes, she walks out with a sharply dressed gentleman who shakes our hands and joking says “I guess this is the ultimate cold call”. He directs us into the nearest conference room where he proceeds to spend the next 25 minutes talking with us.
It was like a salesman’s dream come true. He is very interested and intrigued with our offerings. As it turns out, the guy we met with is the Director over 9 different departmental CIO’s, all of which my rep had been struggling to get appointments with. Does the term “Blind squirrel finds a nut” come to mind?
Leaving the building, somewhat shocked at what had just happened, we head to the car with almost a school girl type giddiness. We turned a lackluster day into a very fruitful one by simply making one more call and a cold call at that. We accomplished more on that one call than we could have ever imagined. It truly was “The Ultimate Cold Call”.
Lessons learned: No matter how frustrating your day, how tired you are, or your feelings about the value of cold calling, do whatever it takes to make that one extra call. You never really know what might be waiting for you.
Feel free to share your thoughts.