Does cold calling still work? I suppose.
But cold calling people, or small businesses out of the blue with no reason for them to talk to you (from their point of view) is a hard hard road.
The last 20 years or so that I was still selling in the field, I made cold calls, meaning they weren’t expecting my call…
But I made these calls to people that I call Highly Likely Buyers.
To me, there are two groups of people you want to call….Highly Likely Prospects, and Highly Likely Buyers.
The Highly Likely Prospects are the people that will almost certainly talk to you, and see you…if you make in person presentations (or consultations).
Who are they? People that have talked to salespeople before, in the way you approach them. If you sell over the phone, it’s people that talk to salespeople (and usually anyone else) over the phone. Political survey respondents, lists of inquirers about offers in your field…They are used to taking calls like yours. But the people (even business owners) that will talk to anyone are sometimes the least qualified.
When I was selling vacuum cleaners in people’s homes, it was anyone that would let a previous salesperson in their home.
And they aren’t necessarily buyers.
Me? I want to talk to the buyers. People who are used to buying what you sell, or buying the way you sell, or buying in a similar field as yours.
You sell online marketing services? See the people with the big print ads, the premium ads in online directories, See people who are used to buying things similar to what you sell.
The last couple of decades I was selling, I spent nearly all my time talking to past customers (repeat sales), the referrals they gave me (I only got referrals from my buyers), and the occasional person that I met casually.
The big benefits of getting referrals, and having the customer call them?
The referral always took my call
They always agreed to see me.
They nearly always bought from me.
It worked like this, whether I was selling to consumers in their home, or talking to business owners at their office.
Who were my Highly Likely Buyers?
When I was selling in people’s homes, it was anyone who had previously bought an expensive thing (it didn’t matter what it was) from an in home salesperson before.
But because they bought before, in the same way that I sold, it also meant that they were highly likely to talk to me in the first place. And if they were a referral from someone who bought from me, they were almost certainly going to buy from me.
When I was selling local online marketing services, my Highly Likely Buyers was someone who already spent at least a couple of thousand dollars a month in local advertising. It didn’t matter what media.
Why? Because they had proven that they would talk to ad reps (and to them, online marketing is advertising), so they were also Highly Likely Prospects.
And if they were a referral from another business owner that had bought from me, again, they were almost certain sales.
When selling vacuum cleaners, when I got a list of buyers (that bought the way I sold) I would offer them a good gift to see my product. In one instance, it was a portable TV. Why? Because I knew that if they took a look at what I had, I had about an 80-90% chance of them buying. My cost per sale for gifts was about $100. My profit on a sale was about $1,000.
The problem came when they gave me referrals (after they bought). It was hard to not give the same gift to the referral. It was still worth it, but these were only likely to buy because they were a referral, not based on previous buying decisions.
It took me awhile to figure this out, but gifts weren’t really needed. I could make the appointment by just offering a free inspection or service call (on what they already had).
I learned to sell the meeting as a benefit all its own.
Anyway, I wouldn’t cold call an unqualified, random list of small business owners, unless you had a really good reason for them to see you.