Cold-calling is dead -- or at least it should be. Too many salespeople waste their time and energy cold-calling for new business, when they could be using technology and the "Invisible Web" to warm up potential customers.
Sam Richter, president of SBR Worldwide and senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Actifi, is an expert on taking the chill out of cold-calling. His book, "Take the Cold Out of Cold Calling" (Beaver's Pond Press, $19.95), shows how being in the "Value Age" is even more central to salespeople than being in the "Information Age." (Disclosure: I wrote the foreward.)
My goal is always to learn as much as I can about my prospects and their companies. When you do that, you're going to have a warm call, where you position yourself and your company as credible.
You capture the interest of your potential customer and ask pertinent questions because you already understand what's going on in the customer's world.
A cold call isn't just cold at the start. It leaves you cold at the finish.
A value-based warm call defrosts the doorway. It turns practical research into an enticing opportunity.
In his book, Richter shows how to use free or low-cost tools to gather information about companies, industries and people. The information that you need for warm-calling is out there, if you know where and how to look.
Start by visiting www. takethecold.com. Visit Sam's Warm Call Resource Center for an updated list of business-information websites and search tips and download the Warm Call tool bar for access to business-information resources directly from your browser.
Some of the search tips you'll find:
• Google Filetype Search: Imagine finding a competitor's sales proposal, an association's membership list or a high-end research report online.
• LinkedIn.com: This business-networking site helps you create connections at companies, learn about people and ask for referrals. Once you're registered, invite people into your network.
• ZoomInfo.com: ZoomInfo uses sophisticated Web-search tools to find information about people and then automatically creates an online profile using different information sources.
• Your library: Most libraries subscribe to premium databases that you can use for free. Want Dun & Bradstreet or ReferenceUSA to research companies, their competitors, executive biographies and more? Find out which library databases you can access directly from your computer, saving a trip.
With the amount of information available online today, there is absolutely no excuse for not knowing something about your potential customers before you meet or call. Your prospects couldn't care less about you. What they do care about is whether you can help them achieve their goals.
Mackay's Moral: If information is power, then use the Web to catch customers.