Cold Calling and Putting Benefits Upfront

I’m realizing that I’m dropping a few threads as I add to this blog from week to week. I’m torn when I sit down to write: Should I build on my last comments? Or should I share with you something I’ve learned or that’s happened in the past week? Tonight I’m choosing the latter and hope you’ll enjoy this story. An interesting question came up in my cold calling workshop at the Chocolate Lake Hotel on Tuesday. Debi Hartlen MacDonald of New Life Business Solutions attended this workshop as part of a project we are unveiling in 2010. She has a wealth of experience she shares with her clients, including years of successful sales in the tremendously competitive hospitality industry. I’ve known Debi for years, admire her and trust her opinion. So when she questioned why I don’t include more benefits earlier in my first conversation with a potential client, I didn’t provide her – or the rest of the workshop participants – with a good clear answer. Why? Because in that moment, I was bit stumped. In fact, in that moment, I experienced a sliver of doubt. And that has been nagging at me a bit as I’ve moved through the week. This is my 23rd year doing business-to-business telephone sales, so certainly I should have had a solid answer to Debi’s query. Well, much to my dismay, I’m only human, but I do have the answer now and am so pleased that Debi motivated me to find it. It has strengthened my understanding of why I believe so strongly in the cold call. So, here’s the answer: I don’t include more benefits earlier in my first conversation with a potential client because this first conversation is NOT a sales call. This first call is an introduction – the call that simply and professionally lets your potential clients know you exist and determines if they have a desire to learn more about you. I believe if you include too many benefits too early on in the conversation, the potential client will begin to feel “sold” and they may shut down the conversation too soon, not give you permission to send along detailed information and decline future discussions. In my experience this first call is fragile and needs to be handled with extreme care so that, if your research is accurate and you are talking to a valid potential client, you can move from the first call into the beginning of a relationship. It is important that, in that first call, no one ever feels rushed or sold. It is a handshake, a beginning and, if you do it well, there will be plenty of time to present benefits in your second, third and fourth conversations. Now I’m sure there will be lots of people who will disagree with this approach and that’s fine. I hope they write and tell me so, because it is certainly worth discussion and debate. But for me this softer, gentler approach has always delivered great results and may be the contributing factor for why I find cold calling fun!

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