Preparing for the Cold Call: Find a Compelling Problem
by Ari Galper, Founder, Unlock The Game
There’s a wonderful way to step into the world of the person you’re cold calling. Just focus on their everyday problems. Start by talking about their issues, not your solutions. And make it specific and compelling to them.
Don’t go into a sales pitch, which is what you would do if you were operating out of the old traditional cold calling mindset. Try to keep in mind that who you are and what you have to offer are irrelevant at this moment.
All that matters is the person you've called and the problems they may be having that, down the road, the two of you may decide you can help solve.
You may find it difficult to visualize what this kind of call feels like until you actually try it out. But just imagine receiving such a call yourself. If the discussion were about issues that matter to you, wouldn't you react with curiosity rather than suspicion? And wouldn't you be more likely to continue into a deeper conversation?
Make it Concrete
So when preparing for your cold call, focus on a problem that you believe the other person has. Address one specific, concrete, tactical problem that you know affects most businesses in their industry.
The best way to come up with a compelling problem is to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and think about problems that your product or service can solve for them.
For example, instead of talking about "office productivity problems," you might say, "I’m just calling to see if you're still experiencing productivity problems relating to paper-based filing procedures that slow down your employees.”
A statement like this gives the other person an immediate, vivid mental image of the problem.
If you know your industry well enough, and the problem you suggest is very real for them, then they can start to relax and enter into a further dialogue with you.
So, ideally, the problem you bring up in your cold call is something that prospects can relate to based on their real work life.
It isn’t nearly as difficult to come up with a compelling problem as you might think. If you've been working with your product or service for any period of time, you already have the answers. You probably already know three or four specific problems most of your prospects are experiencing. You just haven't really thought about it before.
So you might start your cold calling conversation with a question like:
• "I’m just calling to see if you’d be open to looking at any possible hidden gaps in your business that might be causing sales losses?" (to a business owner)
• "I’m just calling to see if you're grappling with problems of employee performance related to a lack of training support?" (to a human resource department representative)
• "I’m just calling to see if you’re open to looking at whether any department in your company might be losing revenue due to vendor overcharges?” (to an accounting manager)
Don’t Slip Back
After this, you might be tempted to slip back into the traditional sales mindset and launch into a mini-presentation about the services you offer. That would be premature at this stage of your conversation.
You still don't know enough about the person you're speaking with and their particular problem. Offering a solution before the other person even acknowledges having a specific problem is part of the old traditional sales mindset.
So what happens next? The two of you may start asking some questions back and forth. There'll be a natural rhythm to your dialogue. And you'll find that you're actually having a conversation without the usual instant rejection.
Basically, you’re building a cold calling relationship around the other person’s world. You’re not sinking into the push-pull scenario of buyer and seller. Most people react warmly and unhesitatingly to a conversation that feels natural to them and revolves around their issues. So when you focus on their problems, you’ll find that cold calling is much easier than you ever imagined it could be.