Gavin Heaton: Take the chill out of cold calling

Coldcall I have never been good at cold calls. Not good at making them, and not good at taking them.

But I do like good technique. I like a good performance. And also, I clearly understand that the person calling me has a job to do, a quota to fulfill or an inventory to shift. And as I work in marketing, I feel it is my duty when someone cold calls me, to listen.

But surprisingly, very few cold callers are prepared for someone who listens well.

And over the years I have noticed the same mistakes being repeated call after call. So, if you or someone you know, is responsible for cold calling, here are some things you might want to consider.

  1. Know me — if you called me, you should know who I am, what my role is, the name of my company and something about it.
  2. Know your offer — be ready to answer the simple questions and the off-beat. Know why your product/service is better than the one I am currently using, and be able to tell me why.
  3. Don't ask me about my weekend — I don't know you, and we aren't friends. You have something to sell me and I am giving you the opportunity to tell me about it. Don't waste my time or yours.
  4. Cut the jargon — you might understand the acronyms and the industry speak, but I don't. Make it simple for me to understand.
  5. Put a smile in your voice — speak in an upbeat manner. Not too friendly. Not too chatty. And not too fast. Record yourself and play it back. If you sound like a chipmunk, slow down.
  6. Follow-up and follow-through — if you promise to do something, do it. Then let me know you have. Make it personal for me so that it is harder for me to forget you.
  7. Make me look good — you know, we all have bosses (even if we are self-employed). You thought your job was to sell me something? Wrong. Your job is to help me look good. Do that, and the sales will come.
  8. Hang up gracefully — first impressions count and so do your last words. Leave me with something to remember you by.
  9. Never lose your temper — even if I am rude. Really.

And finally, if you really do believe what you have will change my life, don't give up.

Drew's Note:  Most of you will recognize Gavin Heaton as my cohort in the Age of Conversation.  But long before that, he'd done some pretty impressive things.  He's been in publishing, the agency business and on the client side.  So, it is safe to say that he really does understand marketing from a 360 degree perspective.  And like Greg, he's one of the good guys.  He just has that cool Aussie accent to go along with it!

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3 comments on “Gavin Heaton: Take the chill out of cold calling

  1. Lewis Green says:

    Gavin,

    When I advise clients regarding business development, I tell them that if they are currently “cold calling” to stop doing it. It just does not work, and research confirms that.

    Instead, we advise our clients to launch a direct marketing campaign that ends with telemarketing for the purpose of qualifying leads, not for the purpose of sales. Then we turn the leads over to our client, who follows up with a call requested by the lead. This process returns on average between 20% and 25% ROI for our clients, and that is just within the campaign cycle.

    Of course, execution is everything, and understanding that a direct marketing campaign is not sending a post card is a good beginning.

  2. Lewis, I largely agree. I believe cold calling is past it’s used by date when we come to sales. However, I’m not an advocate at all for telemarketing albeit the qualification you provide.

    Obviously we cold call when we approach for work at times but I never do that over the phone. However, I was being interviewed for some work some months back and the director of said recruitment company put his requirements to me as a bottom line and I knew we wouldn’t match. What he wanted me to do was along the following lines. Let’s say I thought Gavin would be a great prospect for a position that had just come up; my job was to try and con – over the phone – any of Gavin’s front desk staff (or any employee) to spill beans on Gavin. Just what they thought of him etc.

    I found this unethical and an unnecessary strategy.

    On a personal note I very much dislike ringing businesses and having the phone answered in such a rushed manner I have not caught a word and must ask for a repetition. I also HATE gum chewing at the end of the phone. Please ask your employees to remove food from their mouth when they answer a phone.

    In a multi-cultural world I also don’t know how to spell a number of ethnic surnames and I need people to not only offer me their name but to spell it slowly and not to click their tongue if I dare to request a repeat.

    I’ve also found lately how often the other party I’m ringing fails to write down information pertinent to my inquiry. So, I recently rang a large store and was asking about a wrongly labeled item on their shelf. The shop assistant came back to the phone 3 times to ask what the product name was. I wound up asking her to please grab a pen and paper and write it down. I shouldn’t have had to do that.

    I did laugh at the jargon thing. I get that sometimes and then the expression (even over the phone) when you dare to ask what an acronym means. Clearly I should not be seeking employment in a field where I don’t know the acronyms!

    But one great point was telling the other party why having you as an employee, or having your service or produce is going to value add to your corporation. I’ve made mistakes along those lines myself and assumed my CV told enough. It doesn’t and with my academic background my CV is fairly dry and I therefore need to sell it up a bit. 🙂

  3. By the way Gavin, it appears we’re fellow Aussies. Feel free to get in touch.

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