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Ten plus Tips for Cold Calling in the Field

Good afternoon Art. Had a quick question for you. One of my new reps had asked what information I could give for his review on cold calling tips, instruction, and helps. He is looking for help in running a better cold call in the field. HARVEG



HARVEG, thanks for the reply.  Thought I would turn this into a blog for your newbie rep and I'm sure other P4P'ers will chime in.


There was a time when I would knock on every door.  Back in the Eighties that was thing to do because everyone was in the market for a plain paper copier.  Can you believe that's how we used to refer to them?


The knocking on every door bit changed when Canon developed their first "PC" plain paper copiers, they were cheap to buy, expensive to run, but the demand was there for those that did not want to pay thousands of dollars for a copy machine.


Today, I still do walk in cold calls, maybe not as many as I should, but I still do them.  Here's some rules that I follow for cold calling in the field:


  • 75% of my cold calls are planned, meaning I schedule them into my calendar. The accounts that I schedule are the ones that I can't make any headway with phone calls, emails, mailers, or Linkedin
  • My main focus of the cold call is to get the Decision Makers name and the receptionists name.
  • Once in the office, I will scout around to see any existing equipment.
  • I avoid companies that are not paper intensive or low volume.  Dentists (unless it's a Dental Group), Law Offices that only have one Attorney, Doctors (unless it's a Medical Group), Insurance Agents (single), and there might be a few more, but can't think of them right now.
  • I will pass up any building or company that has only a few cars in the parking lot (except architects, engineers, contractors).
  • I will cold call every company that is paper intensive, usually larger law firms, medical groups, architects, engineers, contractors, and or any company that has many cars parked in their lot.
  • I introduce myself first, and then ask for the name of the person that makes the decision for IT or imaging equipment.
  • I try to make every cold call fun!  I will comment on the weather, maybe a recent bit of news or even state, "this is the first time I've every stopped in a was curious if you could help me".
  • I will honor no soliciting signs, as much as I hate them, I will find a way to contact them other than cold calling.
  • If the receptionist offers up the opportunity to speak with the Decision Maker right then, I will accept and wait for the audience with the DM.
  • I keep every brochure and marketing information in my car, just in case it's needed.
  • When leaving an appointment, I will scout around to see if any other businesses are worth stopping in. I will mention that I just had an appointment at that location and what we were offering that prospect or existing client.
  • I will name drop every chance I get when cold calling, thus I just did this a few days ago when I cold called an account. I made them aware that I do business with so and so.  What this means is that if I cold call and architect, I will tell them that we also support these architects.

I try to do twenty five of them a week, most times I don't hit that number.  But, as we know, we can never stop prospecting. Just the other day while I was drive home from a late appointment, I saw a new custom home builder that I never noticed before. I stopped in and sure enough they were new to the area and they were in the market for two systems.  When I walking out, I thought, what if I was the lazy type I would have never found that opportunity.


Here's something cool also, one of our new reps was out cold calling and got a pretty big deal by stopping in a place I would have passed up. Just goes to show you, that anything an happen once you're out there.  Hope all of this helps!!


-=Good Selling=-

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My thoughts, some of which repeat what others have said, maybe in a different way:

I cold call for information, phone call for appointments to a large degree.

What I would add to Czech's 4 point list is to ask who they call for maintenance. That usually tells you, not only the company, but the brand, and if the receptionist doesn't know, then they likely don't have many problems.

I almost always separate fact find from presentation. Too many reps "get an answer" then "do some selling", "get an answer" "do some selling". The answers will always be superficial if you don't keep digging deeper and deeper and that only happens if you get it out of your head that you should be selling yet. For instance, a rep asks a question whose answer could indicate a possible software solution but the rep starts selling the software instead of digging deeper and can never go back. As a follow-up to that, if a prospect asks a question, always follow with "Why do you ask?" rather than answering right away. Sometimes their reason for asking isn't the one you suspect. For instance, the prospect asks "Does the software have a client component?" The reps goes into, "Every client will..." and then the prospect says, "I'm not interested in anything that requires software loaded on every PC in order to work." Now the rep is digging out of a hole. Same scenario..."Does the software have a client component?" "Why do you ask?" Keeps the conversation flowing in a positive way and you aren't wasting time selling something that will not fit or at the very least, changes the way you sell it.

I'm leaving for President's Club this weekend so today's workload is pretty light so I'm going to add one other tidbit that has really paid dividends over most of my 30+ years in the industry even though it is off the topic of cold calling. It is this...Just because you said it, does not mean they heard it, believed it, and understood it. Too many people think that just because they addressed an issue or subject, that it is over. If the subject is important, you have to not only say it, but make sure they heard it, believe it, and understand it. Obviously you get confirmation conversationally, not by asking "Did you hear me?"

All great stuff.


I'd like to add in a few more points.


1) Never use a cold call to sell, only to gather information. Receptionists and office managers are loaded with information because they are the primary users. Ask if they are having any problems with their copiers and you might be surprised with what you hear.


2) The 4 most important questions you need to answer in every cold call: What do they have? How long have they had it? Who is the decision maker? Who was their previous vendor?


3) Always be prepared! Every now and again the decision maker will come to the front and meet with you on the spot. They might be in the market, or maybe they give you lots of information.


4) Conclude every cold call by entering the information into your CRM system and send a follow-up email/phone call to the decision maker.


It took me 3 years before I did what Art is saying by not wasting your time going into low percentage accounts. Walk into every business office, but if they don't have a copier then GTFO!

I also meant to add that as a newbie its important to know as many people as possible. I have reps who know many different people all the way down to the security guards at big facilities.


I, like Art, probably don't prospect enough. I'm lucky to get 25 calls a week compared to my reps who probably do 30-40 a day, but still have about a 600,000 book of revenues each year. Even in a management role I can't get it out of my system to go out and sell. It's taken me close to 10 years but now I have people who will call me with referrals, leads, and needs of their own.

I have two points I will add that may help him out. First, don't assume anything when it comes to customers and their money. We had a rep who we were working with one day and he drove by a building. I asked him why he wasn't stopping and he said look at that place, there's no way that guy has any money to buy a copier. Turns out this guy was a fairly big developer and that building was his new office. They had not started construction on the project yet. They went in and the office had a large color unit with about every accessory you could put on it that he brought over from another office. We ended up selling him a new system not long after.


2 - Don't skip businesses, especially as a new rep. Before I moved to a management role, I remember one account in particular. This church off a back road in the middle of no where that was probably no bigger than 1200 sq ft. I saw the sign from another road and thought to myself ill go back later. Went on down the road a bit and decided I should turn around and go back and call on the church. Stopped in and the preacher happened to be there. He said he is never at the church and I was lucky to have caught him. I told him what I was doing and his first words were that they had been talking about getting an MFP for the church but hadn't had a chance to call anyone and it was on his list to do later that day. We sat down right there on Friday, he asked me to write out a quote on notebook paper instead of holding everything up by going and getting it done on the computer, and Monday morning at 8 am he called and said to come do the paperwork with him. He said by stopping in it made it easy to decide to do business with us because no one had ever stopped and talked to him about it nor called the church. Now we are on our 2nd 5 year lease with him and no one gets an opportunity to talk to him except us. 



Now with all of that said, I do not typically call on a whole lot of medical except large privately owned groups. Our market now pretty much as everything owned by two hospital groups. I am also about done with single person law firms. They are a waste of time unless you want to sell them something for $500.00 and make enough money to get a burger for lunch one day. They see no value in the machines anymore and feel that buying something is only taking money out of their pockets.

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