Cold calling versus phone sales

Salespeople are supposed to sell. That is the bottom line. Period.

Great salespeople are always on top of their game. That really comes down to two areas, the first of which is a constant awareness of their existing clients. This includes making sure that they keep in touch on a regular basis and being aware of the clients’ needs. The second area is a consistent attempt to secure new business.

Volumes have been written on how to service existing clients but we’re going to focus on securing new business, specifically, the difference between phone sales and cold calls.

Cold calls

A cold call is just what it sounds like — a salesperson knocking on the door of a business without an appointment. Usually, this is done best in a geographic territory where the salesperson can do multiple calls in a given day. A realistic number is between 10 and 20 cold calls per day.

Selling is an art — and also a science — and different salespeople have different personalities, especially on cold calls. The most important is to be yourself, unless you are a jerk.

The goal of a cold call is simple — introduce yourself, then request permission to spend a few minutes asking probing questions about the prospect’s business to see if your product or service is a good fit.

If it is, the meeting turns into an opportunity to introduce the features and benefits of your organization and then request to set up a longer, more in-depth appointment.

Remember, your goal in selling is to build long-term business relationships. Most CEOs and buyers are busy and have other things to do than sit around and wait for salespeople to show up and interrupt their days.

Be conscious of their time and respect it. If there is an interest, they will want to set up another appointment and will be impressed that your sales team possesses good people skills. When your salesperson schedules another appointment, the prospect is expecting him or her, and both parties can be fully prepared.

The beauty of cold calls is that you have no idea what will happen next. Sometimes, everything turns to gold. Often, it doesn’t. Cold calls are simply a game, and the numbers will work in your company’s favor.

Getting through the screen is an article in itself, but just remember that the screen is there to keep you out. So be real, tell the person why you are there, and ask for just three to five minutes. If you are sincere and they like you, your chances of getting in are better.

Phone calls

The second area is the phone call, which is surprisingly similar to the cold call. The goal is the same, and that is to get the appointment, not to close the deal on the phone.

Again, it is all about building relationships and trying to get another appointment, whether it is face-to-face or another phone appointment.

The prospect clearly is not expecting your salesperson’s phone call. So the agenda is to have him or her quickly get to the point of the call. People do not want to chit-chat unless there is something to chit-chat about. If you’re going to teach your salespeople to schmooze, make sure they do it after the sales call.

Which method of sales?

Here are a few simple rules to follow when determining whether cold-calling on the phone or in person is best for your company.

* If your territory is Utah and you live in Cleveland, the phone is a good idea.

* It is easier to hang up the phone than to kick you out of a cold call.

* The phone allows you to make more calls in a given time, but it is harder to establish rapport.

* The cold call is not as productive as the phone call, but it is better at building a relationship by being there and noticing physical details about the prospect’s business.

* The key to success in both cold calling and using the phone is to have fun. Since it’s a numbers game, you can very quickly get tired of all the rejections.

Hal Becker is a nationally known speaker on sales and customer service. He is the author of two best selling books, “Can I have 5 minutes of your time?” and “Lip Service.” Reach him at