Cold calling works if...

On-line only no. 8/2019

Both from my own observations and from conversations with salespeople, it’s easy to conclude that cold calling isn’t exactly the salesman’s favourite activity, and I’d even venture to say that some salespeople avoid it like the plague. In the meantime, in my experience, two or three successful calls are enough for literally every salesperson to change their mind and start cold calling effectively. Only two factors are needed. Do you want to know what they are? Well, read on.

Description of the situation

In January 2014, a woman called me and proposed that I meet with an advisor regarding installing solar panels on the roof of my house. She briefly presented the benefits, which were so attractive (free hot water on sunny days, and a 45% subsidy for the installation) that I decided to agree to the meeting. The first available date for the advisor’s visit was in three weeks. It was a long three weeks. I was really waiting for this meeting, especially since I would be the first one in the neighbourhood with solar panels! (it seems silly now, but not then). Finally the day arrived, and the clock struck the appointed time. I waited 15 minutes, and then half an hour, and nobody showed up. I called the advisor’s number and got a message that their voicemail was full. Eh, I thought, typical salesman...However, after a moment of disappointment, a completely different idea came to my mind: Well, if I want to be so modern and economical, my neighbours probably also want to be, so instead of getting upset, why don’t I get into this business?

The decision was made. Although the RES (Renewable Energy Sources) market is large, I focused my attention on a small area (a niche) - solar installations. I searched online and found a company which has produced solar panels for several years. I have read their reviews - there were no negative ones. So, I called and was told that the subsidies, or rather the preferential loans offered by just two banks, would only be available only until the end of April 2014.Despite all that, I made an appointment for the next day to become an authorised partner of a company which sells and installs solar panels.

The training lasted two days. I received information, materials, brochures, and the opportunity to participate in three meetings with potential clients run by one of the advisors. I decided that I was in a good place with a good product, but not at the best time - I had less than three months to act.

The problem

After returning home, I immediately ordered the distribution of 12,000 leaflets in two cities (one with a population of 20,000 and the other with 45,000), but the response was small. That's why, in desperation, I directed 4,000 leaflets to rural areas. And here came the first big surprise: despite the smaller number of leaflets, I received ten times the response. Even so, I could have at most 1 or 2 meetings a day, and that's not enough to succeed. The more so that some potential customers behaved like the salesman I mentioned earlier - when I arrived, they pretended not to be home. In addition, it turned out that I had to divide the working day into two parts: appointments in rural areas in the morning and urban areas in the afternoon and evening. That meant a lot of miles and unwanted separation from my family, because I was leaving at 7:00 and returning after 22:00, though I got to see a lot of places and meet a lot of people.

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