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Hold the Phone: Cold Calling Does Not Work!

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If you are spinning your wheels trying to reach new clients and you are having issues, then listen to this piece of advice: stop cold calling! This intrusive sales tactic has been used for decades. Prior to the proliferation of electronic media, cold calling was used to pitch products and services. However, recent years have brought an increase in stress and impatience with handling constant daily interruptions. Cold calling is simply an interruption. When you cold call, you indicate to the person that you are important and he or she isn't.

The modern world is full of two things: modern annoyances and annoying people. Competition has increased, and it is difficult to be heard above the noise. Cold calls only create more noise and more confusion. Lastly, there exists a preponderance of evidence to suggest that those who cold call know little of the prospect and rationale for the call. If a call must be made, it is easier to call with knowledge of the prospect, knowledge of the issue, and knowledge of solutions that provide value for the issue.

You are probably thinking, “If you suggest not calling, how, then, can I gain new business?” The answer is easy; there are several methods.

First, it is vital for you to gain testimonials and references from anyone and everyone you meet. The words for the millennium are “buzz marketing” and “differentiation.” In a world that is flat, and with increased competition, there is no better way to gain new clients than through referrals. People want to conduct business with those they know and those they trust. Cold calling is contrary to this, and without an introduction, you are a stranger and a nuisance. There are several ways to get referrals:
  1. Ask — Go to your existing client base and ask this question: “Do you know others who might gain similar value from that which I provide? If so, I would appreciate the name of someone I might call as a reference for new business.”

  2. 25x30x50 Rule Once every 30 days go back to your top 25 accounts and ask for names of prospects that can use your services. If needed, spend no more than $50, perhaps, on a nice lunch or dinner as an inducement to assist. Your network, if happy with you and your services, will be more than happy to provide new names. My business is 90% referral because of this.

  3. Job Completion — Once you sell an account there is no time like the present, new clients will be like fish out of water speaking of your new services. The time to gain a new referral is when the account is at a high.
Second, the best method for gaining new business in today’s world is using good unsolicited research. For this it is vital that you read the Wall Street Journal, the company’s website, and perhaps the annual report to understand client issues. Clients today are seeking immediate solutions to profit and production problems. Seek ways to improve the client’s condition.

Once you have identified ways to improve the client’s condition, the best thing to do is to send an introductory letter to a key decision maker who will meet with you. Keep the letter succinct, yet point to the issues you have identified and align them generally with how you and the company have assisted similar clients. Provide a case study pertaining to the issues and ways you have resolved them. Decision makers like proof — they admire data. Provide an action step in the letter by saying that you will call in a few days once the letter is received. Do not conduct business in a perfunctory manner with email; differentiate yourself and send a hard-copy letter!

Third, as a selling professional you can offer items that your competition cannot, and you can perform in manners others simply will not. So why market similarly? To be different you need to act different. That said, you have market and industry expertise, and you have passion for your products; go and tell the world. Speak at networking groups, present at conferences and business meetings, create white papers that position you as an expert. Differentiate and provide value that others cannot!

I may have shocked you initially with a contrarian approach to a daily dilemma — getting and capturing prospects’ attention. While there exist a myriad of devices, cold calling is not one of them. To stand above the crowd and offer value, you and your firm must differentiate. It is vital to conduct business differently, appear remarkable, and be visible to the community. Intrusive doesn’t work; informative and interesting does!

About the Author

Drew Stevens, Ph.D., is known as the Sales Strategist. Dr. Drew creates more revenues in less time. He is the author of seven books including Split Second Selling and Split Second Customer Service, as well as Little Book of Hope, and he is frequently called on by the media for his expertise.

Sign up for Dr. Drew's newsletter, The Sales Strategist, by emailing and review his new book Split Second Selling at Also, visit Dr. Drew’s blog, located at
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