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#248: Cold Calling for Consultants

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, February 24, 2010
I have read in previous tips that you don't advocate cold sales calls. Why?

Because the alternatives are better. Cold calls work best to "find" a possible customer, e.g., insurance, telephone service, air conditioning services ... mostly commodity type services. But the rejection rate is extraordinarily high (though it can be time efficient for those commodities when using low cost screening techniques). We are professional consultants. Our audiences are higher level professionals with whom we want to make a rational, if not emotional, connection. Telemarketing consulting services do not send the right message.

Preferable is the "warm" call. Trade off your lack of an existing relationship with a prospect for a compelling reason for them to talk to you. Do your research, either on the company or the industry. Give the person an intriguing, no obligation opportunity to get something at no risk and no (except for their time) cost. Let them know of the work you have done and ask if they have considered applying that in a specific (this is the key) place in their current operations. Don't just say "I do XXX, and wonder if you could use something like that at ABC Inc." Tell them that you have been reading that they are having a hard time/or looking for an opportunity and you have some experience with this, and it occurred to you that if their XYZ division, which according to their annual report has declined in new product introductions for the past three years, could introduce PQR in first shift plants, you could show how to . . ."

Tip: Give something to the prospect that demonstrates that you are interested in their company and your capabilities/results are applicable. This is the first foray into building trust. Remember, there is a lot more "free" to compete with than ever before and you need to participate in that. The cold call comes off as "I want something from you,” which comes across a costing them a lot more than free.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client development  client service  customer understanding  market research  marketing  proposals  prospect  sales  trends 

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Kathy Maixner says...
Posted Friday, February 26, 2010
As the President for the Oregon/SW Washington Chapter, I take exception with your faulty premises in this “tip”:

1. MYTH #1: Cold calling equates to telemarketing. Nothing could be further from the truth. While the prevalent thinking is that cold calling is ineffective, as a cold calling expert and consultant who highly values relationships & respect for others’ time, I find that cold calling is not only rewarding but FUN. Several of my MAJOR CLIENTS, i.e., Boise Cascade, Dr. Marten’s Shoes, and Century 21 Real Estate, all came from what others would pokingly call a “dialing-for-dollars” approach. Why? One reason is that there’s SO FEW of my competitors calling these contacts ( NO ONE WANTS TO “COLD CALL” ) that the receptivity rate can be quite high. PLUS, there’s no SCRIPT!!!
2. MYTH #2: Cold calling is not “professional” – or is unworthy behavior for the likes of professionals such as Consultants. Surely you jest. Since when did a lack of professionalism go hand-in-hand with reaching out to a prospect? Many of my clients cold call on a daily basis. It doesn’t even occur to them that what they’re doing is unprofessional, because it isn’t. While cold calling isn’t the answer to every prospecting question asked, the activity, in combination with other approaches such as “warm calling”, networking events, getting referrals, and social networking outreach, can keep one on his/her toes and in tip-top “professional” form.

Lastly, the term “cold calling” should be abandoned. In my upcoming book I will be addressing in depth the subject of cold calling and all of its implications. For those who are mandated to cold call, this book will restore any misplaced ideas they may have on the unseemly process of “solicitation”. By the way, I’m hoping many of my readers will be consultants – because from what I can tell – they need to know how to reach out to strangers BIG TIME!
Thank you for hearing me out. If it makes the world feel better, let’s term “cold calling” nothing more than an “initial contact”. Perhaps a new term would help others to understand the goal of cold calling…which is to LEARN if there might be a fit between what services a particular consultant provides and what potential need a prospect might have. I call it “brainstorming” – and for some crazy reason it has always worked for me. Most importantly, it works EXTREMELY WELL for those with whom I have the pleasure of training and consulting.

Kathy Maixner, President
IMC Oregon/SW Washington Chapter
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