Jill Konrath


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[Video] 3 Cold Calling Strategies Savvy Sellers Use


You've probably heard lots of people tell you that cold calling is dead, dead, dead. That's not true. Lots of people are still doing it -- but they're no longer dialing for dollars.

Here are 3 cold calling strategies savvy sellers use to get new opportunities:

  1. Do their homework. Research the organization to understand the decision maker that they're calling on and learn the key issues and concerns.
  2. Craft targeted messages that focus on the specific business issues the prospect is facing.
  3. Plan a campaign. Create a series of 10-12 targeted messages using a variety of media because they know that they'll never get in the door with just one call today.

Cold calling is alive and well for smart, savvy sales people! Intelligent salespeople go slower, but are more effective because they have a depth of understanding that shows through in their messages and conversations.

Cold Calling

Question: What are some of your smart prospecting techniques? Share your comments below.


Jill KonrathJill Konrath is an internationally recognized sales strategist. As author of two bestselling books, SNAP Selling and Selling to Big Companies, she's a frequent speaker at sales meetings and conferences. For more fresh ideas, download her free Prospecting Toolkit.



Great video. 
You have to have a plan of attack in order to get someone's attention. Between Angry Birds, Words with Friends, Facebook, Twiiter, and YouTube, someone's job barely gets their attention, much less our prospecting attempts. 
If we are creative, we can get through the Wall of Stimuli (post explaining the Wall of Stimuli on kickasssales.net next week!). When in doubt, go old school: I love mailings. But...they have to be creative. Odd-sized colored envelope, handwritten address, and a "manipulative" form factor -- like an expensive wedding invitation (unfolding a piece of expensive paper wrapped around a self-addressed, stamped, personalized postcard for them to return with the date of your appointment creates curiosity if each panel, as it is unfolded, reveals an attention getting statement, value proposition, relatable image, etc.).
Posted @ Tuesday, September 25, 2012 7:39 AM by Mark Kosoglow
Simple, but true, and effective. I mean, I love when people craft personalized pitch emails to me. It's a lot less selly, and a lot more personal. Makes sense then, especially if they're selling something I need. On the other hand, I'm also doing the same thing: calling and selling to big companies - taking your advice on this, and implementing.. should be interesting.
Posted @ Wednesday, September 26, 2012 7:20 PM by Ryan Critchett
True, cold calling is different these days. Like Jill said, before people just call from a list and leave the same message. These days, salespeople are smarter. I like Jills' term, it is not cold calling anymore, it is smart prospecting.
Posted @ Wednesday, September 26, 2012 11:46 PM by Amber King
Cold calling for 'savvy sales people' was killed in 1984 with the introduction of Google allowing them to conduct strategic research on their prospects before they pick up the phone.  
Now the only thing left is to figure out how not to 'sell'!
Posted @ Friday, September 28, 2012 5:45 PM by Tom Costello
Jill, You win in the competition to present a tightly written, adult delivered video. Blue-ribbon BEST.  
To your point! Getting job seekers to do what veteran recruiters do...make phone calls....cold...warm....hot...on fire referrals is the first challenge. Executing your plan is next in my view. Back up again. What your phone number looks like counts. If these words show up on my phone screen, you do not get to engage me. "Wireless caller." "Out of area." "No name." "Unidentified Caller." "Toll Free Call." and finally "Unknown Caller" or the person you are calling does not recognize any portion of the calling number because area codes today matter not. Your thoughts on these real barriers? Much as I Know, Like & Trust you Jill (and I really do) you have no chance to talk to me if you do not reveal your name in your electronic calling ID protocol. sQs Delray Beach FL 
Posted @ Thursday, October 11, 2012 7:22 AM by stephen "steve" q shannon
Jill is right on, those that we are calling do not have the time to call all of us back. They will call the solutions back. As my team and I are building our market presence, we are using Jills teachings to build our company as the experts in our field. 
Thank you Jill! Keep it coming and we will keep selling.
Posted @ Thursday, October 11, 2012 7:31 AM by Wade Wiken
Jill, you are right! Cold calling does work. My business is based on it. It cuts through the social media clutter.
Posted @ Thursday, October 11, 2012 8:08 AM by Jim Barrett
Hi Jill, 
Thank you for sharing this today! A large part of the work I do involves 'cold calling' which I now refer to as 'prospecting.' I have a new client who consulted some of her colleagues who told her that cold calling using an outside consultancy never worked. I'm glad to say that in the first week of calling I connected her to two prospects and have had conversations with several other people interested in more information about the company. Prospecting is a great new business development tool! Thank you for sharing all of this great information! 
All my best, 
Posted @ Thursday, October 11, 2012 8:20 AM by Laura Haykel
Jill, I think you are oversimplifying the Cold Calling issue. I think it really depends on the industry vertical you are targeting, the complexity of solution you are selling(transactional vs. contract based products or services), and the level of the person within the organization who you have identified as the key decision maker. I could Cold Call with Transactional opportunities and I might have some success, but I wouldn't even attempt that approach with Contract based solutions that require a far more detailed and strategic process to penetrate the account. Like Steve mentions, the chance of getting a high level decision maker to answer their phone when they have no idea who you are is why Cold Calling is a Dead Sales Approach for me. As a follow-up to this video, maybe you could spend some time on creative ways to penetrate a targeted account that you have found successful. Cold Calling is just one of several tactics you can use.
Posted @ Thursday, October 11, 2012 8:38 AM by Terrence Bro
At some point, you have to "cold call" somebody to get started. Even if it is a referral, there is still a point at which they are a stranger to you and you are a stranger to them.
Posted @ Thursday, October 11, 2012 8:43 AM by Mark Kosoglow
In my world, 'Proactive Prospecting' is definitely not dead. There is a ton of competition all around me for the services our company provides. A recent sale was a 'cold stop' into a business I knew nothing about but yet needed our services badly and my timing was impeccable. Completely serendipitous and a fun sale for me.
Posted @ Thursday, October 11, 2012 9:19 AM by Michelle Falling
I understand what you are saying. Personally, I never pick up the phone and call a potential prospect as my first step if they have never heard of me, or know nothing about my company and what it does. My sales cycle is also very long. The average is 1 year or more. I typically use Linked in to send an inMail as an introduction and also send a personalized email after I've done my research on the company. I know every industry is different, but I refer to it as my "soft prospecting" strategy that has been very effective for me. I will then use the phone as a follow up to my email introductions. That was really my point. Not that Cold Calling doesn't work, but that it doesn't work for everyone. I hope that Cold Calling is an effective strategy for you and your business.
Posted @ Thursday, October 11, 2012 10:18 AM by Terrence Bro
I've been "cold-calling" for several years now...in many industries...to varying levels in an organization. The same truth holds with any person I'm engaging with. Show them the same respect and courtesy that I would expect if a salesperson were calling me...and that includes respecting their time and intelligence. If I don't have enough information about their job description, the company and whether they've got the time to talk with me at that moment, it is surely a dead call. Cold-calling is only dead if I'm unprepared.
Posted @ Thursday, October 11, 2012 10:29 AM by Melissa
I'm a HUGE fan of cold calling. I haven't found anything more predictable and efficient.
Posted @ Thursday, October 11, 2012 12:13 PM by Craig Ruhland
Cold-calling, and even "cold-knocking" still work. Went out with a friend who is in a different industry last week. People appreciated our friendly smiles, and we were NOT there to sell them. We did our homework on each stop, and were there to confirm that "this is the right office for..." and see if we could leave information. Many would then say "hang on, let me see if (s)he is available".  
Know why you're calling or knocking, and be a smart, prepared answer to their problem.  
Kudos again Jill, for great points and challenges to us all.
Posted @ Thursday, October 11, 2012 1:39 PM by Kerry Martin-Moore
Thanks, Jill. You always have valuable information to share. Cold calling is actually a bit more comfortable when you know who you're calling and how you can help them.
Posted @ Thursday, October 11, 2012 2:37 PM by Susan
The coldest person on the call can be the caller him or herself. By doing your homework and putting yourself in the shoes of the person on the other end of the phone - and utilizing your referral network if possible - you start that all-important dialogue. You have that conversation that the prospect didn't even know they wanted to have with you. Thanks for hitting the proverbial nail on the head once again, Jill!
Posted @ Thursday, October 11, 2012 3:40 PM by Babette Ten Haken
Jill, as always you are spot on! Cold Calling is THE Killer Business Process. As soon as I latched on to that juicy secret, I made certain to stop excuses, start dialogue, and close deals. 
Posted @ Thursday, October 11, 2012 5:58 PM by Leslie Buterin (like butterin' bread)
Cold calling is such an 80s term - Jill I like you term better and will use it - "smart prospecting" because knowing "who" to call and focusing is much better than working a list of maybes
Posted @ Thursday, January 10, 2013 8:18 AM by VM5487
Our company's marketing division gives us leads from people who have returned cards requesting info. So my call is like: "Hi John, my name is Bill. The reason for my call is that you requested info on the legislative changes in Medicare. I will be in your area tomorrow, which is better for you 10am or 2pm? When I arrive at their residence, I always wave and smile as I am walking up the driveway. I want them to know I am friendly and to take away the scare feeling possibly inside them. Once inside their home, I always compliment them on something inside their home, usually the family photos on the wall. This builds rapport and sets the stage for you. As I go through my presentation, I always ask them 6 questions that they have to say yes to. The 7th question is going for the sale and after them answering yes 6 times in a row, high percentage of the time the 7th question is always answered with a yes. Then I always either phone them or email them monthly just to say Hi how are you and never miss birthdays, anniversaries and Christmas. This keeps you in the front of their mind and keeps your retention high with that client.
Posted @ Wednesday, January 23, 2013 12:35 PM by Bill Lehmkuhl
I prefer to walk into a business and approach the gatekeeper with a question and befriend him or her as a start. Or approach a stranger (target decision maker) at a business event and get 'face to face' value rather than cold call any day. This works better for me! I sell expensive products and services to large hospitals and colleges and big companies and government and facilities departments. Cold calling a college dean or a facilities director will result in a huge waste of my time and me getting hung up on. I prefer email, LinkedIn, and going where your clients go for networking and once you've met them, calling will be more effective.
Posted @ Wednesday, July 31, 2013 1:48 PM by Sarah
Great video.
Posted @ Friday, September 06, 2013 4:06 AM by Romel Spielberg
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