Published November 6, 2015, updated Jun, 18 2019
Up to now, this blog has been about sharing information and insights about what I have learned building Klipfolio.
This week, though, I want to share something more general – something that is not specific to this company.
It’s about cold callers – sales people who contact me by phone or other means and try to sell me goods or services. These are people I don’t know personally, but whose solicitations (or calls, emails, and messages) I often end up receiving.
There a few things these cold callers do that annoy me to no end.
I’d like to share those things – not because I want to rant, but because I think that there are lessons here for anyone involved in sales.
The point of reaching out by phone or any other means is to generate sales. If the cold callers changed their behaviour, they’d make our interaction that much more pleasant. They might even increase their chances of selling me something.
1. Don’t pretend we’re buddies if I’ve never talked to you before
This is probably number one on my list of annoyances: The person who, as soon as I pick up the phone, starts speaking like we’re best buds. They open with something like: “Hi, Al! How are you today?”
I find overblown friendliness from a perfect stranger very off-putting. I’m forming an opinion about you in the first few seconds of our conversation, and if you come across as fake, that opinion is bound to be negative.
My advice? If you want to connect with me, just be authentic.
2. Do your homework: Know who you are calling before you pick up the phone
This is a sound business principle for anyone reaching out to someone else – whether they are doing cold calls or sending an email. Take the time to do some very basic research about the person you are contacting.
How basic? I still get people calling me thinking I am president of a company I left 12 years ago.
If you approach me on the basis of outdated or erroneous information, how can I have faith in your ability to provide anything of value to me?
So take a few minutes to do some research on the person you are about to call. Google them. Look them up on LinkedIn. Find out a bit about them. And make sure the information is up to date.
3. Don’t try to connect with me on LinkedIn if we’ve never met or spoken
And while we’re on the subject of LinkedIn: Don’t try to connect with me if we haven’t at the very least met or spoken. If I don’t know you, I’m more than likely not interested in being your LinkedIn buddy.
And if you do attempt to connect, this default text is simply not compelling enough:
You may have a legitimate business reason for wanting to connect on LinkedIn even though we have not yet met. If that is the case, take the minute or two to replace the default text and let me know why you think we should build a business relationship.
4. Don’t make wild assumptions about me
I sometimes get calls from people trying to sell me high-end luxury items or top-end investments.
The sales people making those calls assume that because I’m a CEO, I have money to burn.
Don’t make assumptions about the people you’re pitching to solely on the basis of the title they hold. Ask questions and validate that what you have to offer might be of interest. And if there is no fit, it’s best you know quickly and move on.
5. Ditch the script and be yourself
I sometimes find myself on the phone with really persistent callers – people who just won’t give up. These people seem to have a response for every objection I raise. Except they seem to be following a script.
My advice? Know what you’re offering inside and out, ask good questions, listen, and work on your dialogue. And above all else, ditch the script.
If you want to really connect with me, you have to be genuine. And to be genuine, you have to be able to think on your feet. So give up the formatted call and go with the flow.
Otherwise, you will be left in the cold.
Allan Wille is a Co-Founder and Chief Innovation Officer of Klipfolio. He’s also a designer, a cyclist, a father and a resolute optimist.