The Apprentice Demonstrates Why Cold Calling Doesn’t Work Yet Can Work


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Every time the Apprentice shows there’s always a flurry of emails from the sales experts.

One of the most emotive topics in sales is cold calling and this week the blue touch paper was lit and a ton of emails arrived that went along the lines of “you see I told you cold calling works”. No surprise there.

Its easy to find one example of something and hold it up as being truth or fact. The longer you can leave it behind you (distance yourself from it) the less likely people can verify it or check for themselves, instead you have to “believe”. Its what institutions like religion and politics have being doing for a long time.

Cold Calling Is Like Gambling Unless You Can Determine High Probability Outcomes

Cold calling for most is a game of chance, a probabilistic outcome where success varies depending on a number of factors.

Its those factors which are never discussed or remain hidden from view that will continue the debate on whether or not cold calling does or doesn’t work.

Before I get a bunch of people telling me I know nothing about sales, you need to know this about me.

After I graduated as an engineer I went into sales and made a career in that field handling large deals before moving into marketing. I’m a hybrid and have been on both sides of the fence.

You see cold calling can work, but for most it doesn’t. Sales trainers will tell you its because you’re doing it wrong. I’ll go one step further and tell you that in some instances no matter what you change cold calling will not work effectively to grow your business.

Its Not A Question Of If Cold Calling Works But A Question Of When Cold Calling Works

I’ve experienced it when it worked and I’ve seen it when it was a total flat out waste of time. Since then I’ve been exploring the details to understand what make up the differences and how to determine where and when to employ cold calling.

Lets use the recent Apprentice show as an example of why cold calling can work and then reflect on what most sales people are faced with.

Before I continue I’ve got to say that I’m not watching the show much these days as I’m focused elsewhere.

However, because of the recent activity surrounding this weeks episode and its connection with cold calling I decided to check it out on iPlayer and try to put it into context.

This episode was about taking new products into new markets.

Cold Calling Works When You Bring Something Of Real Distinguishable Value To The Equation

The teams task was to selected products developed in the UK and sell them to the French retail market.

Once they had selected the products they had to setup their own meetings where they would pitch these products in a bid to try and sell the most units.

So lets talk about a couple of interesting facts about this situation.

Firstly what’s special about the retail market ?

Well the retail market lives and dies by the products it resells which are constantly being bought and sold and its always on the look out for new products that will help it stand out and sell more.

Next, what about the timing of this situation ?

These were new products from the UK and the sales team was in France for just one day. If buyers want to see something new from a trading partner in Europe then this is probably a good chance to do it.

Last of all, what’s the value of meeting ?

French buyers may not be accessing the UK market of suppliers on a regular basis or at all, so its a chance of finding something new and unique from a different part of Europe that will help differentiate their business, offer more of what their customers wants and ultimately help them the retailer sell more.

Why wouldn’t a retailer meet ?

Cold Calling Doesn’t Work If You Can’t Create A Reason For It Too Work

The situation is unique as it creates urgency due to the limited window of opportunity and offers a chance of discovering something new and exotic from an establish trading partner. The real appeal is the situation itself, which will only come off if handled correctly.

Its for this reason that Alan Sugar says “I don’t want another bloody sales person” because he realises the power of creating the situation that facilitates the outcome. That’s strategy.

The problem facing most sales teams is that the company, products or services they represent are probably offering little value to their prospective customers apart from being yet another supplier of the same or similar product or service that the last five callers were trying to sell.

For most playing the number game the timing always seems to be wrong.

Unless you focus your calls on businesses that are likely to need your product or service and which can be tied into a trigger event like a new hire, company investment or some other reason that the product or service may be needed then your call is probably going to be a total waste of time.

Cold calling can work and if you’re a start-up with the right products or services (see adding value) it can be a viable route to market to begin with. However, if you’re looking to really grow long term you cannot do it on cold calling alone.

Marketing led companies always outgrow their competitors in the long run, that’s why anybody who’s going anywhere in business has a system that leverages marketing and integrates marketing and sales together effectively., just take a look at the successful companies out there.

OK, I’ve said, let’s see what you’ve got to say about this one.

Republished with author's permission from original post.


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