The Cold Calling Dilemma

As it appeared in the Daily Nation on June 13th, 2017
Have you ever made or received a cold call? Like many of us, I have received cold calls. I have also made cold calls. In the world of business, cold calling has been around for decades. A cold call is one made where there has been no prior contact between the persons or between the two organizations. An unexpected visit to an office is also termed as a cold call. Today we also have a proliferation of cold messaging. Cold calling is not just about to die; it continues to be widely used in business circles.

I receive at least one genuine cold call per month. Cold calling is a significant selling tactic for soliciting new business. Insurance sales agents and network marketers are especially known to make cold calls. They use cold calling as one of the first step to reach out to potential customers. Cold calling is different from calling our customers or people known to us. Many consider it a very challenging part of the selling process. Are your sales and marketing staff well equipped with cold calling skills? It takes great effort to make successful cold calls consistently.

In addition to selling, cold calling is also extensively used in research and some use it to seek employment opportunities. Unfortunately, with the advent of the mobile phone, con men have also infiltrated the cold calling arena. Most of us here in Kenya have had to deal with a conman caller. As a result, many of us are uncomforted receiving calls from strangers on our mobile phones.

In my career life, I have made hundreds of cold telephone calls to organizations. I was once in charge of marketing customer-experience training seminars that required us to bring staff from different organizations together. I did all the calling before we hired a telesales person. At first, it was quite tough. I learnt many cold calling techniques online, found prior preparation quite useful and always had scripts ready. What I detested most was not rejection but having to deal with an unpleasant person. I learnt to remain calm and friendly in all situations. When I look back, this was a worthwhile experience that many people may not have.

Most of us are not happy when cold calls are made on our personal mobile phones. I therefore always recommend that we make introductions before sharing out other people’s numbers. In some markets, telemarketing is a major nuisance making many wary of cold calls. However, when we receive genuine cold calls on behalf of our organizations, it is important that we remain professional even when we are not interested. There is no need of being rude or abusive to a genuine caller.

In the last two months, I have made several cold calls. This was in an effort to book CEO’s interviews as part of an ongoing research. From my calls, it was evident that most people are today more friendly and willing to help than ever before. I believe that the ability to make a cold call successfully is vital for everyone. Leaders, entrepreneurs and those in sales especially need to develop this ability.

Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer connect via twitter @KiruthuLucy