Long before the days of social media and email, to make a new connection in a target company, sales folks would simply pick up a phone and place a “cold call” to a business in hopes of making a new contact. Once a relationship was established, the focus would then turn toward developing new business opportunities.
Now that we have the internet and great Web 2.0 tools like LinkedIn and Twitter, cold calling is becoming a dying art form. Yet, not all companies and target connects are plugged in. I’m not saying that these people don’t have email. I am saying that email cannot replace a person’s desire to interact with other human beings. Cold calling is a way to get your foot in the door and to get the time you need to present yourself. Before you pick up the phone, there are a few things to consider.
First, you need to think ahead and carve out a strategy. Who are you trying to reach out to? What role would this person play in the company? What are your objectives for this call? Then, think about the path you need to take to reach your intended target. In most cases, you’re going to start with the main number and the first person you will encounter will be the receptionist. The receptionist is a powerful resource that has been placed there to take your call and quickly route you to the appropriate person. He or she has the company directory and often times an org chart at their finger tips. Use his or her knowledge and good will wisely. Treat them well, because if you cross the line, you may never get into the company again.
Other things to consider include whether leaving a voicemail is acceptable, or do you need to talk to a real human being. Note the time of day that you are calling and try calling back another time. It might be more advantageous to speak to an administrative assistant. The admin may have access to this person’s calendar or better yet, have the ability to add meetings to his or her calendar- this would be a huge success.
Once you have sufficiently addressed all these questions, take the information and quickly sketch out a decision tree. It’s your cheat sheet to ensure that you stay on course. This is your pre-planned script on how you’re going to get to the person you want to talk to and complete your objective.
In many cases, the objective is to secure an informational interview (by phone or face-to-face). Limit your conversation to no more than 10 minutes and remember to thank the person for their time- after all, you interrupted some other activity.
With a little bit of planning and using a decision tree, you should be able to project confidence and quickly build rapport with anyone. Using these tools will help to take the fear out of cold calling and make you more comfortable on the call. With a little practice, I estimate that you will be successful more times than not.
Wes Elder is a successful Senior IT operations leader with a prolific history of working with leading Telecom and Equipment manufacturing companies. When he is not providing IT support, he is a strong proponent for open networking, relationship building and the subsequent productivity explosion that results from an increase in online collaboration.
Wes is also an advocate for equal access to the internet so that everyone regardless of their situation or circumstance can participate and have the opportunity to experience the success of online collaboration.
He is a husband and the proud father of 3 young children living in the Raleigh area.
You can find more information at http://www.weselder.com