Stefan Drew - The Marketing Magician

FE, Education & Business Marketing: Quick, Effective, Low Cost Marketing

Stefan Drew - The Marketing Magician

Tag: cold calling

How To Know Your Customer BEFORE Cold Calling

Doing Your Homework Can Boost Sales; Not Doing Your Homework Costs a Fortune


I recently had a cold sales call.

Here’s why I didn’t buy .. and how the caller could have made the sale.

The copy is long, but bear with me and note the mistakes the caller made and how he could have made a sale.



 A Typical Cold Call

The call I received went like this …. my thoughts as he spoke are in brackets 

Hi, I’m Robert phoning on behalf of the IFE (Institute for Education, this is a made up name to save the real organisation too much embarrassment as they are clients of mine.  The rest of the story is true though!) 

How’s your day? (This is a sales call and he doesn’t actually care how I am or what my day is like) 

Me: OK (my tortoise/hamster/goldfish has just died!) 

The IFE is … the explanation lasted several minutes.   

Me: I know the IFE, that is why I enquired several months ago about exhibition space for a client.

Robert: I see you recently enquired about taking some exhibition space at the conference next week.

Can I book the space for you now? (What, with a few days to spare, we can’t get ready in time and you must be desperate to sell this space)

Me: (I was drinking coffee and had a few minutes, so thought I’d play along). How much is it? 

Robert: We have space in three areas.  First there’s … and then he spent several minutes explaining the areas but didn’t mention the price. (Please answer my question, when I ask it. ) 

Me: And how much is it? (This is rthe second time I’ve asked.  Is it so expensive it embarrasses you to have to say what it is?)

Robert: It’s reduced to between £2000-3000.  (How much?  That’s a lot of money.  By the time I add on travel and hotels and meals and literature and staff .. it will be treble that. )

Me: I’m not interested.  It is too expensive.  (I bet I could negotiate this down if I wanted to)  

Robert: Do you work with colleges?  (What a stupid question.  Haven’t you checked me out before calling?)

Me: Yes

Robert: How many?  (Why does this matter?) 

Me: That’s confidential.  

Robert: ….. uh…. It would be worth you being there.  (He didn’t know what to say as I wasn’t working to his script)

Me: Why? (I bet this question isn’t on his script)

Robert: You’d meet people from colleges.

Me: Is that important for my business? (You don’t know me or my business and have no idea)

Robert: Ehhh ….. Yes.

Me: Why? (He is clearly grasping at straws her) 

Robert: You could sell to them.  (How do you know I sell anything) 

Me …getting bored again: Do you know what I do for colleges?  (Of course he doesn’t) 

Robert: No  

Me: Don’t you think you should know more about my business before telling me I would benefit from being there? You don’t know what I do. ( I wonder if logic will work) 

Robert: I’m now looking at your website.  You have a lot of  .. (thinking of a word) .. eh .. skills.  (Well the website must work if he has gleaned that in a few seconds .. oops no he is grasping at straws)

Me: Yes, I use them when I speak at IFE conferences.  If you look at my “colleges” website you’ll see I spoke at both the Business Development and Digital conferences  for the last two years.  If you look even further you’ll see I’m on your list of preferred consultants.   

Suddenly the line went dead.. had the BT elves given up … or had Robert? . 

Well Robert, if you read this you might have sold to me even at this late stage.  If you had checked me out on line and knew more about me it could have been easy.   If you had said to me that you had just one place left, and that your CEO had suggested you offer it to me at a discount, you might have got my attention.  (But only if it genuinely was the last space in one of the halls.  I’d hate to get there and see two spaces free, because I’d know you’d lied to me).


Why Cold Calling Often Fails

Robert failed from the outset because he tried the usual sales techniques that starts with asking me how I was.  Someone somewhere had told him to build rapport with prospects; and this was the best they could do.  If he had discovered more about my business he would have been able to see my interests and tailor his approach around my specific needs as a consultant.


Selling to Your Customers

Whether you make a cold call or are selling to a warm lead/existing customer it is vital you build a rapport.  But that takes time to do the research or check your memory if you’ve known them for a while.  You can’t do this from a script; everyone is different and people buy from people not scripts. 

You also have to be genuinely interested in the people you want to buy from you.  And you mustn’t sell, people hate being sold to. But they do like buying, so you need to encourage them to want to buy.  This may sound to be the same thing but it isn’t.

If you research your prospects needs, either in advance via LinkedIn or their website, or by asking the right questions it is much easier for them to see you have the answer to their problems than if you just use a cold calling script.


So how could you improve your selling skills?





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How To Make Effective Cold Calls

Is Cold Calling a Prospect a Good Idea?Is Cold Calling a Prospect a Good Idea?  If So, How Do You Cold Call Without Upsetting People? 


This is something I frequently get asked and an email from Mrs AH had me promising I’d post something on this blog. 

The answer is actually really simple.  

Cold Calling Isn’t Very Effective.  At least not on it’s own. 

But you can do a few simple things to make it far more effective. 

This is how it is done; in one sentence. 

You send the recipients an email a couple of days before you phone and you ask for “permission” to phone them.


This is a form of Advanced Thinking. 

Let me explain.  Most people regard cold calls as intrusive.  But if you give them some good advice in advance, and say you’d like to phone them in a few days if it is OK with them, then they are expecting your call.

Better still, if you get intercepted by a gatekeeper you can honestly say you arranged the call by email and that it is expected.   In a large number of cases this gets you pass the gatekeeper.  

So what about the advice you send them? The advice needs to address an issue they have.  For example, there are generic issues we all have at a certain level,  how to spend less on advertising, how to increase revenues, how to decrease costs.  Or there are problems specific to them and I’ll explain how to discover those another day.   But whatever it is your email mustn’t appear spammy.  The Law of Reciprocity then cuts in and they feel at least obliged to listen to you as you gave them something.

However think about it like this.  Do you take cold calls when someone only wants to sell to you?   If not, why not?  So turn this on its head. What if someone shows interest in your business and offers free help and advice, builds a relationship with you and becomes a trusted advisor or friend, are then you more likely to take the time to listen to them.  Most people are. 


Does This Really Work?

Here is how it worked for me.  I had a well respected colleague write to several CEOs and introduce me.  I then sent them a copy of my last book via the post, with a note that suggested we meet which was what my colleague had also suggested to them. 

Then a couple of days later I phoned and asked if the book had arrived.  The answer was always Yes.  So we chatted for a while. Only once we had a rapport, and they felt positive towards me, did I ask if it might be an idea to set a date to meet.

This method may sound long winded but it increased my conversion rate by a significant amount.

You needn’t send a book of your own.  It could be a two page list of tips or a copy of someone’s book.  It could be from a friend or something you have written yourself.

The thing is, I think you need to build a relationship and NOT make a totally cold call.

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Ten Reasons to Phone .. part 2

A few more reasons to phone your best customers.

For part one see Ten reasons to phone your customers


7. “Have you seen the article about abcd published in xxxx magazine/newspaper/website?  Would you like a copy?”


8. “I would like to test out something with you … have you got a few minutes?”


9. “Can I bounce a few ideas off you with a view to exploring who else I should be talking to?”


10. “I found our last conversation really valuable; here’s what happened ….”


And here’s a bonus idea that often works for me …


11. “You just came into my mind and I thought we should catch up …” (works a lot better than one might think – provided it is said with genuine feeling).


Enjoy phoning your customers.

For part one see Ten reasons to phone your customers

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A Good Way to Find and Approach Potential New Clients

You know the kinds of clients you want.  So why not take some action to acquire them.   How to Find and Approach Potential New Clients is not so difficult as the following article explains

Start by making a list of businesses you would like to have as clients. 

Then decide who within the business you want to contact.  This might depend on the position they hold, for example they might be the owner or CEO.

Or perhaps it is the sales manager, HR Director or training manager.

People prefer to do business with people they know or have links with so establishing a link between you is the next step.   So ask the people you know if they know the person you want to contact.  Often referred to as using your network there is nothing magic about this process, it is just about finding someone to introduce you.  If you find such a person ask them if they would be willing to introduce you via e-mail or a phone call.

Alternatively look on the business networking sites and see if someone you know is linked to the person you want to contact .. or see if you are in the same groups as the person you want to contact.  The thing is people respond more positively to an approach from someone they have a connection to .. however tenuous the connection.

If you aren't able to find someone who can introduce you, you can still approach companies without resorting to cold calling.  Begin by finding out the names of the people you want to contact (call the company and ask for the name, look on their website or just Google them).

Then you can email them with your proposition or alternatively send them a personal letter via the mail.  So few of us receive hard copy mail that it will be read. 

In your letter or email briefly introduce yourself by telling them how you are connected.  Mention your offer in terms of benefits e.g. this will reduce your costs and then promise to call them to discuss it further.

So when you call as promised you can get past the “gatekeeper” because you promised to call; and it isn’t a cold call because they are expecting your call. 

This process makes your call a warm call.  You task is simply to check if they received your message and to ask if it was of interest to them.  Using my example of reducing their costs it is unlikely you will find many people that say they are not interested in saving money!

Although a little cheeky this really does work extremely well .  I’ve recently just used it myself and have achieved a 50% success rate in getting meetings arranged.  In the past I’ve managed a 96% success rate .. but of course this depends on your offer and how well you have chosen the people to call.

And remember No doesn’t always mean No!  If they are interested but not ready to proceed at that time you still have several options. 

First, ask them if they would like you to call back in , say, a month’s time. If yes, then put it in your calendar and do it.

Secondly, if you have a newsletter with valuable information, you

can ask them if they'd like to receive it.

Thirdly, if they are not interested but you feel a positive vibe, you can ask them if they know one person who may be interested in what you are offering.

Why only one?  Because if you ask them if they know 'anyone' who might be interested in your offer they will rarely come up with a name.  It is just we way we all behave: a psychological barrier comes up and no name is forthcoming.

But, if you ask for just one persons name for a specific offer, it's much easier for them to think of someone they know.

Just don’t commit the cardinal sin of not thanking them.  In fact put your thanks in writing with a thank you email or preferably a letter.  It looks like you have valued their help and taken time to say thank you.  

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