Cold calling is a tough business. Most people hate cold calls because the person is inconsiderate and their message is irrelevant. I call that “disruptive marketing” and it is getting worse.
But… I want to help these marketers.
So here are some entertaining examples of terrible cold calling practices followed by tips to help these marketers catch up with the times. You see, marketing has shifted over time and consumers hold the power now.
To all you cold calling marketers out there, even though technology is putting more tools in your arsenal, you need to operate differently to make disruptive marketing work.
Are you a human?
Once upon a time, I received an unsolicited sales call. I said, “hello?” and immediately this person went into his script. It went like this:
“Good morning. My name is Kyle and I’m calling from XYZ printers. We specialize in high-quality signs, letters, and banners for businesses that want to…”
I REALLY thought this was an automated message so I rudely interrupted and even raised my voice to see if he would stop. Then he did! I was surprised that he was human but took the opportunity to ask,
“Why are you calling me about this?”
Without hesitation, he went right back to his script. He even started speeding up his pitch! I tried to interrupt with another question but it didn’t work so I hung up.
Don’t take “no” for an answer
Once upon another time, I received an unsolicited sales call. I said, “hello?” and a woman on the phone succinctly and confidently let me know that:
- Her company provided loans to small businesses at exceptional rates
- Her boss was going to be in my area the next day and would like to meet with me
She asked what time I was available and if they could come by my office. I said,
“What office? I have an LLC merely for my marketing consulting practice. Right now I have all the work I can handle and there’s no need for investment capital.”
She said she understood but then went back to her script and asked me,
“when would be a good time for our regional vice president to come by your office tomorrow?”
At this point, I believe I blacked out from disbelief that there is a company that would pay money for this type of sales technique. When I came to, she was no longer on the phone.
Cold calling likes me
Unfortunately, I get these calls because my cell phone number is in a small business directory. The national do-not-call directory does not appear to be a deterrent.
So there are a lot of critiques for these types of cold calling tactics but I’m going to point to the biggest one: this is the age of the consumer and consumers won’t stand for this anymore! Here’s my rule of thumb for mass marketing:
If you aren’t going to add value, then make sure you don’t upset people.
“Drive me crazy” marketing
Banner ads and TV commercials are annoying but people understand that they are a necessary evil. Direct mail is annoying and wasteful but doesn’t drive people crazy.
Disruptive cold calling that isn’t personalized and comes across as ignorant and rude… that’s crossing the line!
Same with spam emails, even the non-malicious ones. And don’t get me started on the people who knock on my door selling magazine subscriptions!
Here’s the difference with annoying marketing versus “drive me crazy” marketing – you treat phone, email and door-to-door marketing & sales tactics with a careful approach. If you don’t, then you’ll drive people crazy and bring out their angry side (that may have happened to me once… or twice).
If you aren’t interested in creating satisfied customers… well… you can stop reading my blog, frankly.
If you are concerned with creating satisfied and/or repeat customers (or even good conversion rates) then change your approach so that you embrace our consumer-centric world.
4 rules for using disruptive marketing
If you want to use a disruptive marketing technique, there are 3 things you need to do, first, in order to overcome the disadvantage you are at. “What’s the disadvantage?”, you ask. You have disrupted someone and that starts the conversation off about YOU, not the person. We don’t like that and so you have to work to overcome that position you just put yourself in.
1. Show me that I’m a special snowflake
If you are calling me simply because my phone number was listed in a directory you bought then I will be very resistant to your pitch. Instead, tell me why I’m selected.
Heck, try to make me feel special!
Do this by identifying a niche that I might associate with or be interested in. Here are a couple examples:
- “I’m trying to reach small business owners that are trying to grow their business.”
- “I’m calling small business owners in Austin, Texas.”
Not only do you reduce some of the resistance but you also strike up some rapport by connecting over a commonality.
2. Acknowledge that you interrupted me
Admitting a mistake or a shortcoming has been shown to create trust with others.
- I apologize for the interruption…
- Yes, this is a cold call but I will respect your time.
This shows that you are human, you are vulnerable and keeps the person’s blood from boiling.
3. Ask for my consent to proceed
Instead of ramming your script down my throat, ask for my permission. If I say “yes” then no ramming is needed. Now you can ask me a very enticing question that addresses some of my concerns. Try one of these:
- I apologize for the interruption, however, I have a special offer just for Austin area small businesses that are trying to grow. This only takes 2 minutes. Would you like to hear more?
- I promise this won’t take more than 4 minutes after which if you aren’t interested I’ll simply wish you a good day. Sound okay?
- I’m part of a small business just like you. Do you agree that one of the biggest challenges is growing revenue?
There are a few techniques in here. The last example is a way to get an easy confirmation or let the person move on. If they say “yes” then the person is much more likely to hear you out.
4. Show me that you are a human being
Engage me on a personal level. Don’t act like a mindless drone who only knows how to stick to the script. Respond to questions, appropriately. It’s okay to roll back into your script but show that your goal is to have a conversation not just finish your script.
Don’t forget the obvious
If you noticed, my tips didn’t include any of the following:
- Don’t pitch me if I haven’t shown interest
- Don’t keep calling me if the first call didn’t go well
- Don’t mask your phone number and make it look like a local call
- Don’t act like a robot
I didn’t include any of those because I hope they are obvious.
The times have changed where people expect much more from someone they want to give money to. There’s too much competition and your competitors are figuring this out. Deliver some value, show that you human, find commonalities and build rapport, show genuine interest in them, etc. These are the tactics that today’s customer’s expect and that your competitors will soon be delivering.
If you don’t think you have time to develop this or that it might be too expensive, I challenge you to test a small batch. Frankly, if you are in the cold calling business you should be testing constantly. If the numbers aren’t there then you are just using the wrong format for what you are selling.
Last thing, steer clear of automated attendants who pretend to be real people. It’s just creepy!