Mark Shonka

Sales Tip: Warming Up the Cold Call

In the last Tip, we reflected on how much easier it is to schedule a research meeting than a sales call. After all, most of us don't like to be sold to, but many of us appreciate being asked for our insight and perspective.

When it comes to scheduling a research meeting, there are different types of calls we can make - hot, warm, and cold. Hot calls are so easy. In this situation, we are calling a coach (someone who wants us to win and feels like they win when we win), and this is a nearly failure-proof request. It might sound like this,

"Hi Sam, this is Jennifer calling. We've got that big presentation coming up in a couple of weeks, and I need to get prepared. I'm wondering when we can get together. What time works for you next week?"

This is so easy, but what if we don't have a coach, and as a result, cannot make a hot call? There are many things we can do to warm up the call and avoid making a cold call, such as:

  • Leverage a referral. Ask a coach who else you should do your homework with, and when they give you a name or names, ask if they will send an email to introduce you. With that introduction made, the request is incredibly warm,

"Hi John, my name is Jennifer Cannon. I was with Sam Martinez yesterday, and he suggested that I reach out to you in order to better understand your infrastructure initiative. I'm wondering when you might have 20-30 minutes to spend with me over the next week or so as I continue doing my homework?"

  • Mention a commonality. There are many potential connection points that can help to warm a call up, such as past employers, avocations or hobbies, certifications, etc. These commonalities are uncovered through our research efforts, on their LinkedIn page, for example. A warm request might sound like this,

"Hello Spencer. My name is Jennifer Cannon. The reason I am reaching out to you is that I recognize we both worked for IBM for several years, and that you left and joined your bank. I remain with IBM, and am in the process of doing my homework on the bank. Your insights on your technology direction would be invaluable to me. When might you have 20-30 minutes to spend with me?"

  • Refer to an upcoming meeting with a senior executive.

"Hello Chris. My name is Jennifer Cannon. The reason I am contacting you is this; I am preparing for an upcoming meeting with your CFO, Thomas, and your insights would be very helpful to me. When might you have 20-30 minutes to spend with me over the next week or so?"

There are many ways to warm up a cold call. Find one for your calls, and dramatically improve your hit rate!

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