SMB Cold Call Advice from a Sales Pro

Thursday, March 25, 2010
Posted by Brawlin Melgar

The Best Cold Call Approach Ever© 

by Peter Belanger, Sales Consultant. 

A $250,000 sale on the first call?  A true story.

On a first call, a prospect will give you about ten seconds to ideally do four things – say who you are, what company you work for, what the company does, and then provide a brief, compelling, and, most of all, non-threatening reason for your call.   A tall order indeed.
The first three items are straightforward, but still require thought.  I always suggest providing your first and last name with prospects, because being straightforward and complete reduces their immediate suspicions. 

Say what the company does compactly and conversationally.  Example:  Although LG might be involved in 100 businesses, a simple and instant description might be, "the appliance and electronics people". 
The last part -- the Headline -- is the killer, for it must be compelling AND non-threatening.  But how can you convey to a complete stranger that you might be of genuine assistance, which takes time to explain, without scaring him or her away?

I'm always on the lookout for a better approach to use with prospects.  The ideal is to find one that applies to nearly any product or service, and I have found a number that work quite well.  And then I met Frank*.

I hired Frank as a telesales professional for a California client, a value-added reseller of computer products. Frank had worked in financial services, and the first day on the job, he called a major restaurant chain in the area and used a headline I hadn't heard before.

I was stunned when he came to me later that day to say he had sold 50 fully-loaded laptops to the chain for a total of $250,000.

This was Frank's Greeting and Headline:
"Jack, this is Frank Jordan with Microline* in Santa Ana; we're a cost-plus hardware reseller, and I wanted to see what procedure you'd like me to follow to compete for some of your business…"

I was impressed, and I got permission from Frank to use the headline in the future.  Here's what makes it work.

First, notice that the Headline is simultaneously aggressive and polite, and in the balance of the Headline, Frank is doing several crucial things in very little time:
1)  "…what procedure you'd like me to follow…"   Frank knows that the prospect, not Frank, is in charge of this process.  Frank also conveys that he will jump through whatever hoops the prospect wants him to jump through, even if that might take a considerable amount of time.
2)  "…to compete for… (not "get" or "earn" – Frank knows there are other vendors out there)
3)  "…some (not "all" – Frank knows he may have to start small) …of your business."

With every word, Frank is communicating brevity, patience, deference, and a willingness to follow the prospect's rules, all while clearly saying he'd like to be on the future order radar screen. 

Also notice that Frank is able to communicate everything he needs to – who he is, what company he's calling from, what the company does, and the reason for his call – as he is asking the prospect his first qualifying question!  Many initial inside sales approaches ask questions before the prospect's initial suspicions are satisfied, and they are usually a guaranteed ticket to dismissal.

Since we get so many lousy sales calls, cold call approaches must be exquisitely crafted.  Your sales situation might need something different than the "procedure" headline above, but ensure that it addresses the multiple, immediate psychological needs of the prospect just as well and you'll be way ahead in your results.

*Names were changed to protect identity.
About the author: Peter Belanger is on the team at Sales Rebound Associates. Sales Rebound LLC helps companies start up or improve their business-to-business Inside Sales programs. Peter can be reached at his email: or visit his website: or call: 818-383-1856

Another SMB Sales Tip: 

The first voice on the phone matters!