Does Cold-Calling Work?

by Jacques Werth, Founder of High Probability Selling.  © 2007

Answer:  Cold-calling can work for you or against you!

Below is a true accounting of how we utilized High Probability Prospecting to earn new business for High Probability Sales Training.

A while back, we called a large electronics distributor to make an offer for our sales training services.  On our fifth attempt, we reached the Sales VP, and we presented our first prospecting offer.  His response?  Mr. Sales VP said that they wanted sales training for their entire sales force, and we became one of several sales training companies that they were considering.  Their intention was to start training approximately four months from the time that we had first made contact with them.  However, they wanted to get together with us – immediately – to determine what type of training we had to offer, and how it compared to other training companies.

We told them “No.”  We would not meet with them until they were ready to make a decision.  Instead, we put them on our “Frequent Call” prospecting list, and called them every two weeks.  Each time we called, we presented a different prospecting offer, one that emphasized two different features of our sales training.  Each time, he responded, “Yes, thatís what we want” – and he again asked us to meet with them.

Here's our response to their repeated requests for meetings:
“If, when we meet, we can show you that High Probability Selling meets your conditions of satisfaction, what will you do?” 

Their reply:
“We will give your company serious consideration, but we are not ready to make a decision yet.”

“We will wait until you are ready to make a decision before we take a meeting,” was our consistent rejoinder.

On our seventh call to their Sales VP, we made another offer, and he said, “We are ready to go ahead with a sales training program.  I have the funding approved, and we are ready to make a decision.  If you want our business, we need to meet with you immediately.”

A few days later, we met, and I took them through the entire High Probability Selling process.  At the end of the process, we came to an agreement to provide their company with sales training.  Then the VP asked, “Exactly what will you train our salespeople to do?”

“We will train them to do the same sales process that I just did with you.”

“I didn't notice any sales process,” he said.

Then, I reviewed, in detail, every prospecting call we made to them and every step of the sales process that we had just completed.  To say that they were “amazed” is not an overstatement.  They were not aware that any “selling” had occurred.

So, Does Cold Calling Work?

Answer:  Yes, and No.  Only the first call to that company was a “cold call.”  All of the subsequent calls were warm calls.  Except for the first call and the last call, none of the other calls lasted for more than 2 minutes.  That is one of the reasons why they were happy to take all of our calls.

Those calls did not result in what most salespeople would characterize as a “great relationship.”  However, we did develop the kind of relationship that was most likely to result in winning their business.  It gave us the best opportunity to meet them on a very favorable basis when they were ready to buy.  And, at our first meeting, we developed a profound relationship of mutual trust and respect.  That is the appropriate time to develop a relationship.

Why Cold-Calling Often Works Against You

Doing what most people refer to as “Cold Calling” is detrimental to your success.  Traditional cold calling works against you because it violates several basic principles of human behavior:

  1. Prospects buy in their own time, for their own reasons.  They do not buy because a salesperson talks them into changing their priorities.  Nor do they buy because a salesperson entices them with benefits.
  2. Pushing for an appointment to “help determine needs” or to “solve problems” creates pressure.
  3. Any form of pressure causes sale resistance.
  4. Attempting to “develop relationships” with most prospects when they are not ready to make a decision is just another way to create pressure.  And, it creates annoyance – for both parties.
  5. No matter how interested or congenial you are, most prospects do not want, or have time for, a new best friend.
  6. Prospects who have been pressured by you once will seldom want to talk to you again. Thus, you have to keep finding new prospects to call. That is why it is called “Cold Calling.”

How to Make Cold-Calling Work For You

High Probability Prospecting enables you to make appointments with prospects when they are ready to buy your products and services.  It keeps you at the front of the minds of the prospects on your list, on a favorable basis, until they are ready to buy.  The result?  A higher percentage of appointments each time you call your list.