A cold call is any call you make to a prospective client who isn’t expecting to hear from you. Some percentage of salespeople are uncomfortable calling strangers, even though every good thing that happens in sales starts with meeting a stranger. Those conflict-averse salespeople believe they can turn a cold call into a warm call. To do this, they send their prospective client an email first, believing this will make the client feel differently when the salesperson finally works up the courage to call them.
You cannot transform a cold call into a warm call, simply because the client isn't expecting your call either way. There are, however, things you can do to increase your chances of having a short conversation and scheduling a meeting when making a cold call.
The Warmest Cold Call Available
Most salespeople who don't love making cold calls also don't love asking their clients for a referral, but doing so can help you make the warmest call possible. When you ask your client for a referral, you must ask the person to do one of four things. First, you can ask your client to email the person they are referring you to. In their message, the client should explain why the referral should meet with you, and they should copy you on the email so you can follow up. Second, you can ask your client to text the new contact and ask them to take your call and say a little about how you can help them. Third, for those brave enough, ask your contact to call the client and tell them you will call them. Fourth, you can ask your client to invite their contact to a lunch meeting that you will attend.
These are the best ways to turn your cold call into a warm call. When one of your clients testifies that you are worth knowing, it provides you with a head start. The fact that you have been valuable to your client means you are a known entity, even if you are borrowing your client's credibility and trust. LinkedIn can help you discover who knows who, so you can identify who to ask for referrals.
Making a Cold Call Warmer
The cold call was once the only way to schedule a meeting with a prospect. The truest form of the cold call was walking in the front door of a company and asking to speak to the decision-maker. This is one reason sales organizations hired gregarious, extroverted people. After meeting with a client, salespeople were taught to walk into both buildings on either side of the client's business, then into the company across the street. This strategy led me to a client that spent $2 million with my company. I walked through their front door simply because I had found myself across the street.
The new media we use to communicate with our clients and prospects provide us with new strategies. Instead of making a cold call, we build a sequence of communications, some of which do something better than trying to warm up the contact. What is better than a warm call is a call in which your prospective contact recognizes you because you have already created value for them. You want to start any prospecting sequence with a phone call. You start with the phone because, should you get a meeting, you no longer need to use the rest of the sequence with that contact. Much of the time, you will not get a meeting on the first attempt. But fear not. You can create value for your contacts before trying to claim any value.
There is never a reason to be boring when you can be compelling and relevant. Most emails that contacts receive from salespeople are about the salesperson's company, their clients, and how they believe they can help. The salesperson asks for a meeting, often pointing their contact to the link that allows you to put yourself on their calendar. There is nothing valuable enough in this message to command the contact's attention.
The argument about cold calls versus warm calls continues because, when most salespeople believe they are warming up their call, they are actually getting colder.
If you send an email to your dream client, start by finding some valuable insight that will command their attention. Instead of pasting it into an email or sending a link, print the article, highlight the important idea you want to share with your contact, and write your notes as to why it's important. Then, send that to your prospective client. Interspersing these insights between attempts to secure a first meeting will help your contact recognize you as someone paying attention to what's going on and what their clients need to know.
Know where you find the insights to warm up your cold calls. If you have an inbound strategy and a team that creates content, don’t wait for your dream client to stumble into your contact page and fill out a form. Instead, proactively send vital content to them. By sending these insights, you increase your chances of gaining a meeting a lot sooner.
Don’t Make a Cold Call Even Colder
In The Lost Art of Closing, I include "the trading value rule." This rule requires you to explain the value the client will receive from agreeing to a meeting. In Eat Their Lunch, I outlined the approach and the language. You make the cold call even colder when you don't explain the benefit the client gets by spending time with you.
The salesperson who pitches a no-value meeting where they talk about their company, something the client can find on the website, is making their cold call even colder. Sending emails, especially fully automated emails, will move you from cold to freezing. No one needs five consecutive emails, each referring to the prior message. This brute-force approach to prospecting not only harms your results, but also makes it more difficult for salespeople to use email to communicate with their prospective clients.
Use the strategies here to improve your ability to make a successful cold call by asking for a referral and an introduction. Use your sequence of communications to position yourself as a One-Up salesperson by proving you can help your clients improve their results. That’s the best way to warm things up.