What is the purpose of a cold call?
  • sales
  • Blog post

What is the purpose of a cold call?

Today’s guest post comes from Steve Richard.

We throw the term “cold calling” around a lot in sales. But very few of us ever stop to ask ourselves, “What does cold calling actually mean? What is the purpose of our cold call?” Most people recognize that you don’t want to ‘sell’ in your first call. But if that’s the case, what do you want to do?

The purpose of a cold call is to engage a prospect in a conversation about their needs and determine next steps.

This purpose statement is sneaky good because it seems obvious at first, but as we break it down there is a lot more here. You probably notice three primary pieces: conversation, needs, and next steps. Let’s unpack this sentence to derive insight into what good cold calling is really about.

1. Engage in a conversation. By definition a cold call is to a person who is not expecting your call or in our case a prospect who responded to a marketing campaign or other call to action. Instead of just talking at the prospect like most cold calls, you want to generate a conversation. Use call openers. At my company (Vorsight) we like to use 3×3 Research—or three important talking points you’ve gathered in only three minutes—and teaser questions to turn the monologue into a dialogue.

2. About their needs. This is a tricky one. At the start of a cold call you are catching the person unprepared. There is zero trust. In all likelihood you have not earned the right to ask probing questions about their needs and pain points. You want to keep the focus of the conversation on the prospect while at the same time saying something about your firm in a way that earns you the right to ask questions. The best cold callers are able to frame talking points in client voice, articulate a crisp differentiated value proposition, and then earn the right to develop needs through breadcrumb and interrogative led questions.

3. Determine next steps. Most people agree that a cold call is successful when you get the appointment. But is a live, web, or phone meeting the only successful outcome? Time is the enemy of the salesperson. The best cold callers are able to get prospects to open up and talk. This allows these rock star salespeople to quickly qualify their prospects to see if it’s even worth their time to continue the process. Bu the end of the cold call you hopefully have some understanding of where the prospect is in the buying process. This dictates the appropriate next step – get a meeting, call back later, or another creative offer to advance the prospect from business as usual into an active assessment of their needs.

How do you define cold calling? What is the purpose of your cold calls?

Steve Richard is the co-founder and chief content officer of Vorsight, currently listed on Inc. Magazine’s list of the 5000 fastest growing companies in the US.

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