Cold calling is waste of time

By Jason de Luca

For anyone who runs a small or mid-sized business, or is in a marketing/sales team, reaching out to new markets and new clients is not something you can put off any longer. It’s not time to sit back and “see what will happen;" it’s time to move into overdrive.

The cold calls to my office and those of my clients, have increased sharply, but in my opinion, they are not getting anywhere. Why? Because cold calling sucks. Repeat: cold calling = waste of time.

I can hear it now; sales managers screaming, that this is the way real sales professionals do their work. That cold calling is a key part of their sales process and what every brave sales pro should do. Then they will say it's a "numbers game."

I disagree. Therefore, please allow me to repeat: cold calling = waste of time.

For any sales professionals reading this, depending on what you sell, for most of you, I would imagine it is a contract, service or product worth anywhere between 4 million yen to 25 million yen or more. Do you think anyone is going to give that kind of money to someone who calls them out of the blue?

Below is a simple prep sheet for anyone going after NEW business; what I like to refer to as Smart Calling.

  1. Mindset preparation/goal setting: Your goal is to get a face-to-face meeting, not sell anything on the phone.

  2. Make a list of no more than 10 companies per set to go after.

  3. Research your target company's industry and find out their top three competitors, general target customers and history in Japan.

  4. Write down a few issues/challenges your clients may be having and how your service can be of a benefit to them.

  5. Be ready to show a written positive client reference.

  6. Focus on clients that are close to you (easy to pop into on short notice, easy to hand-deliver contracts), or lumped together in one building so you can travel there easily.

  7. Map out some third party contacts that can help you with an introduction, reference etc. If you are in a networking group, ACCJ, round table or committee, think of who your target may know.

  8. Look for a speaking or charity event that will put you in with the C-level people of the company you are targeting.

  9. Write a white paper, article or posting to highlight your expertise and knowledge of your products/services and how they benefit your current clients.

  10. Map out the bars and clubs where executive targets like to mingle. Go there, be seen, use your ears more than your mouth.

  11. Research their website, financial results, LinkedIn, Facebook, whatever, to gather as much information as you can about your target company or person you need to reach.

  12. Update targets in your list often. Always have 10 on there, as you will break into some client faster than others. Be brave, stop talking at work with your mates about the next season of some FOX drama series. Get work done!

Go after target companies but also, create a positive image so that target companies will come to you.

Next, here are some tips for client meetings after you break in:

  1. Write down your experiences with their industry or brand. You can also bring your research notes about them.

  2. Write down your experiences solving similar problems they may have.

  3. Get your client references ready.

  4. Have a list of your benefits and match them to possible needs.

For senior sales people with a small list of well-paying clients, my advice to you is this: The time to find new clients and focus on new BD pipeline is when you are on top of your game.

Make a list, get prepared and regularly spend some time going after new business. Your success trap will eventually pigeon-hole you into a boring, safe career with no challenges and nothing new. If you start bringing in too much new business, pass it on to others in your team and negotiate a commission percentage with your boss.

New contracts, new business, new clients closed, is fresh air to a sales professional. That is also a good way to assist you in getting a higher base salary come pay review time.

So, what do you do next? Answer: Stop chatting in the office about nonsense, stop reading the same gloom statements about how the global economy is going to hell and make a target list, use your brain, do some research, create an attack plan. Do this along side some work mates and share stories after work.

But if all this silly preparation is a waste of time, just keep at your current rate of 1 meeting per every 100 cold calls.

The writer is managing director of Smart Partners KK, a company that offers sales training, consulting, business strategy and financial planning advice.

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cold calling is like the lottery or fishing blindly.

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I hate receiving cold calls, especially from asset management companies. I'm always puzzled as to why they think I have money to invest.

I feel a bit sorry for cold callers. They must receive a fair bit of abuse for every one client who is willing to listen to them.

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I feel a bit sorry for cold callers. They must receive a fair bit of abuse for every one client who is willing to listen to them.

I feel as sorry for them as I do for the people who come round door-to-door trying to sell stuff that I don't want. (ie not at all). If I want what they're buying, I'll go to the shops looking for it. In the meantime they're wasting my time and turning me off their product so that when I do want their product, I'll look elsewhere.

As far as I'm concerned cold-calling isn't merely a waste of time, it's a total put-off. If you want me to buy your stuff, don't cold-call me.

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My uncle was a top salesman for decades and that list de Luca just posted is what my uncle used to call 'preparation' 40 years ago. And I think de Luca is confusing 'cold call = telephone out of the blue' with 'cold call = visiting a company out of the blue in hopes of getting an appointment for face time.' As a matter of fact, I'm in the process of cold calling retail outlets now and am trying to remember what pearls of wisdom my uncle laid out before me. This list is a nice reminder.

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It depends on what you're selling. Cold calling with finance is not a waste of time.

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As a professional salesman with 30 years of experience, I can assure you that this person is only selling his service and blowing his own horn.

Cold calling works period.

I can remember when I sold automobiles in the states. The number one GM auto salesman for that year... I think it was '85 if I remember was blind. All he did to achieve that success was to work... out of the phone book.... 2 hours a day... everyday. The rest of his time was spent 'showing' cars to prospects that he earned cold calling.

Of course he had superb product knowledge, and had the additional burden of having to walk the lot each morning with the lot boy, marking out the models along with color and installed options and accessories because he had to have it all memorized due to his lack of sight.

In the end, people will believe exactly what they want to believe so all you new sales recruits take your pick. Burn weeks and weeks on research that may or not pay out over a few clients.... or wear out those shoes 'n make those calls the old fashioned way and spend your nights learning your product inside and out and practicing your pitch in front of the mirror until you have your 6 canned pitches so well tuned they show up in your dreams each night.

Myself? I retired at 35 but missed making those calls so much I have been at it ever since ; )

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I have great success with cold calls, a meeting shouldn't be your goal, create interest by creating the situation that they are lucky to talk to you, Don't direct sell your product talk about other things related to your product, never talk about the product too directly, don't sound like a salesman, sound like your giving advice or talking to the customer about the product indirectly, the customer will come to their own conclusion and realize that the product is important and once they start asking you questions about it you're sold.

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I have a 9 out of 10 hit rate on cold calling in getting a face to face meeting. its all in how you do it.. a lot of inexperienced people out there. am 8 for 8 this morning already..

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Calls go more smoothly when you can establish some rapport with your target exec. It pays to hire a private investigator or sort through their garbage to get some leads.

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My first question is always: How the hell did you get my number?

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Me too. I always ask them. I hate,hate, HATE those mansion calls. I've been telling them for 12 years I'm NOT going to buy one of their one-room mansions across from Osaka/Kyoto/Tokyo stations for a tax break. They pretend to be other people too, so that I'll put my husband on the phone...and they're always sorry I do.

If they'll lie about who they are on the phone, why would I buy anything from them?

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I like the way the article says cold calling is a waste of time, then lists preparatory steps to make you better at.....cold calling.

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I recently carried out a cold calling campaign for my company and it works. Deals dont get finalized in a single call, it is only the start for building up a client. I have personally generated clients from cld calls who have gone on to become million dollar accounts over a period of 3 to 5 years. A cold caller is a specialist, who needs to explain what he sells and what value he can provide in 4-5 sentences.It requires experience to build your skills to make a successful call. I did it 15 years back when I was a salesman, I still do it when I am a sales manager.

The hit rate in Japan is low around 3% but it still works.

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My first question is always: How the hell did you get my number?

easier than falling out of bed..

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its a waste of time. go and meet people socially and down A few beers. you learn a ton more about them disarmed. create a network and exploit it and treat your customers very well and always be honest with everything you do. never hurt a soul. phone jobs are phoney. beat the street and meet real humans.

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Hakujinsensei - Burn weeks and weeks on research that may or not pay out over a few clients.... or wear out those shoes 'n make those calls the old fashioned way

Studying a target client's website, financial results, gathering up data on some of their competitors, knowing some possible needs they may have in advance of calling them, doesn't take weeks...

Hakujinsensei, what product or service are you selling? With your response, please leave your full name or linkedin link, cheers. jd

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"Cold calling works"

"it's a waste of time"

I'll betcha it works for some people, and I'll betcha it's a waste of time for others.

If anyone tries to cold call me, though, it'll be a waste of time.

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Come on Sarge, you are a push over. I could probably sell you the Sydney Harbour Bridge in one sitting, and you would be asking for me to make you a deal on the Opera House.

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Everton - What! Gosh darn it, I've been wanting the Sydney Harbour Bridge like, forever, man! How much? But you can't fool me on the Opera House - I saw Godzilla destroy it n the last Godzilla movie!

Good cold call, Everton! Ha ha ha!

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Thanks SmartPartner, you can see my website at . cheers, bear

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Cold calling works, but is rude and intrusive, and forces most of us to waste time on our paid line getting these people off the phone. If they want to pay my phone bill, I'll be happy to listen to them...for a while.

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Look at it this way: for every client you won via cold calling you have probably tainted your name and pissed off 5 or more people, making sure those people will never ever buy anything from you.

Does cold calling really make sense if you look at it this way? Branding wise I think it's suicide.

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Romulus, it is obvious you have no clue about sales. If all salesmen starting taking each of their prospects out for beers, we would have liver cirrhosis epidemics going around.

Cold calling is a science and results in sustained business.

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Farmboy - I agree, which is why coldcalling-smartcalling/beer drinking/entertaining/information sharing/ whatever, is just one tool in the sales person's box to develope/grow business and help customers. Too much reliance on one method is like a carpenter who only wants to use a hammer to make a house.

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In Japan, people meet people by being introduced. Japanese people rarely go out and make new friends without being introduced to them by someone they both know. There are exceptions to this however. The same could be said about the business world. All of the business I have done over the past few years in Japan has been the result of meeting people, meeting their people and their people's people. Cold calling might work in some industries and it might work in other countries, but in Japan, you're better off to go meet people you already know and build your network.

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