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May 14, 2009

5 ideas for cold calls

Cold calls in consulting work. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind about that. But you are not calling to make a sale, you are calling to start a relationship.

This goes to the heart of consulting and to how to sell consulting services.

Functionality hasn't sold too much since Microsoft was offering a "free calculator" with their windows product. SAP is arguably less functional than some of their competitors, yet they still dominate the market.

When IBM bought PWC one of the reasons for the (then) high price was their boardroom access.

So relationships sell, no doubt about it. And if you haven't realized that yet you are in the wrong game.

Cold calling is your way of getting the foot in the door - not to sell, but to try to create a relationship.

Some tips that I use.

1) Whenever possible call, don't email first. Emails that are unexpected can be ignored and deleted, calls at least are answered.

Be human, don't be "on the sell". Make it clear, you want the opportunity to introduce your company and products or services. Thats it. If it goes further you may have a chance to talk about some of the "wins" you have had elsewhere. But all you want initially is the chance to tell them who you are.

3) Your personal brand helps. If people already know about you, or already have an idea who you are and what you do then this makes life incredibly easier. They are more likely to want to speak with you and far more likely to give you a fair hearing.

4) Use LinkedIn. Undoubtedly a fantastic device for establishing first contact with economic decision makers. Make it clear you are not "on the sell", that you want the opportunity to introduce the company only, and you want to make sure that this approach is not inappropriate.

5) Toughen Up! Some people seem to get awfully annoyed that you call them. Some are rude, ingracious, disrespectful and aggresive without any real reason to be. 

Don't sweat it. They just aren't ready for you yet. They are dealing with the small power world of their operational environment while you are striding the national or international stage... their loss.