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A new angle on cold calling
by Glen Chapman 
Making phone calls to prospects is one of the biggest fears of any small business person when they think about doing them. Well I wanted to tell you a story about something that we did this week that really surprised us when we started calling some prospects.

We recently ran some email-based marketing for the new BizAchieve web site (www.bizachieve.com). When we went to do the follow up calls for this promo we decided that we would see how the information that was sent was received. Our initial aim was not to sell the site but to see if the info was the right stuff and that it fitted the expectations. Why? Well this was the first of a series of these promotions that we are running and we want to get the best response rate possible.

When we started making calls an interesting thing happened. Out of 35 calls made only two people said they didn't want to talk about the campaign. AND, none said that we couldn't send the information again.

This process emphasised a couple of things which you should remember when you are calling prospects. Our call was asking for feedback from the people we called. This means that we were interested in what they had to say, and they all did give feedback.

Because our emphasis was on getting feedback rather then selling the product they relaxed. Just think about it, every time they get a call about a promotion or product the call is going to try make the sale. We changed that and got people to relax and be comfortable to talk with us and give some great feedback and questions about the promotion.

Second, the main reason we resent the information was that the first time it hit their desk (email in box) we found that they were busy. Even when the detailed information went to them they were still busy when it came. Because it may not have addressed a problem they had right at that time it got pushed from the priority list.

So what can we learn from this exercise:
1. Make sure that you make a number of contacts to a prospect. On average it will take between four (4) and seven (7) pieces of information about the same product or company before someone will act.

2. By asking questions of the prospect we were able to open up the conversation, make them relaxed and glean information about why they didn't read or look at the information. By asking questions you also do two things. One, you control where the conversation goes and two, you reduce the likelihood of objections.

When asking questions there are a couple of other things to remember. There are open and closed questions. Open questions allow a conversation type answer to occur they ask for ones feelings or impressions. Closed questions as for facts or can be answered with a 'yes' or 'no'. The other thing to remember about questions is the power of getting a yes response.

Research shows that if you get a series of yes responses then a prospect is more likely to say yes again. So to use this you can ask even very simple questions through your call (or even a presentation) that will invoke a yes response.

Resources and References
(1) Allan Pease - How to make appointments by telephone (1991)
(2) Bob Burg - Endless Referrals (1994)
(3) Rain Making - Ford Harding (1994)

(© 1995 – 2007 Glen Chapman)