[sahy-uhns]  noun
1. a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws

Are there actual "laws" of cold calling? Can it be predictable?  Lead generation and cold calling have always been the front line of identifying new opportunities--but why are some efforts successful and others not? Much of it depends on how much understanding there are of the "laws" that govern the results.  And the laws go much deeper than just "calling."  There is an artful execution of preparation, list management, persistence, coverage, and mastering opening conversations with people that are resistant.

What are the laws of Cold Calling?  

There are many, but here I will cover 4.

  1. People do take calls, they just don't take bad calls.  What makes a bad call?  One without preparation.  A quick story, someone asked for a connection  with me via LinkedIn through another CEO of a well known software company--he was gracious enough to help the guy out, I agreed to pay it forward--why not.  The message appeared to be around something that would help my company so I said sure, I'll schedule a call.  He calls me at the agreed time, and he starts talking about how hard it is to find a job--and he is looking and do I know of anything.  I am thinking, "you go through a CEO of a publicly traded company, to another CEO to ask for an inside sales  job??" So I ask what he has done, and he says he has worked in enterprise software sales  (turns out it was a small network appliance he was talking about) and continues to tell me how hard it is and he can't find a job, now he wants to work from home. Then he asks what my role is in the company?  I said "you don't know who you scheduled the call with, did you research our site before you called?" Of course not.  What is the learning from this experience?  Your prospects get calls like this all the time.  From reps that are poorly trained, unskilled, and happen to get through to them only to further sour prospects against taking calls.  What can you do?  Be confident, crisp, and prepared.  Know exactly what you are going to say, and learn what is going to be meaningful to them.
  2. Your prospects are busy. This is a law that many people ignore even in today's time-sensitive environment. How does this impact your role as a sales rep?  You need to have persistence.  It almost always takes 3+ attempts to reach prospects, more senior levels it takes 5+ at least.  Many reps don't incorporate this into their work process.  Many times they call a prospect maybe 2 or 3 times, send an email, and they're done--prospect isn't interested.  While they are mentally giving up on the prospect, the prospect is thinking "I need to call them back, they've called me 3 times and I need to get with them or they'll think I'm not interested." And your prospect continues to get pulled into their busy work day, meetings, putting out fires, and commit the next time you call they will talk with you, but they never get a call. And over time you both forget about the other, and your competitor calls them the 5 or 6 times needed to get to them and closes the business. Literally every day we hear apologies from prospects about their slowness in getting back to us, that's okay--we understand, we don't give up.
  3. It takes more than one discussion for the relationship to become reciprocal. You called them, it is on YOU to make it happen.  I recently heard a rep say "I left a message, they should call me back." In a perfect world, sure--but in real life, a sales call is one of about 150 things happening in the day of an executive, if you want to talk with them you need to do it on their terms, which is to try harder. They aren't anxiously waiting for an opportunity to plunge into a sales cycle they don't feel they are in control of.  Demand generation in the form of cold calling starts off one-sided, you want to talk to them--but once your prospect is truly engaged, then they will call you back.  That doesn't happen out of the gate.  People only have so much time in a day, and that extra bandwidth they have isn't spent returning vendor calls. Jill Konrath's book SNAP Selling, explains how to sell to super busy executives in the best way I have ever read. I consider it a "must read" for sales reps .
  4. People have a programmed first reaction to sales reps. Whether you are selling 1M ERP platforms or monitors at Office Depot--people have an ingrained response to sales reps, what is it?  It's "no thanks, I'm just looking."   You have probably even said it yourself. The funny thing is the behavior is the same too. An example, maybe you can see from your reporting that multiple people within a company are hitting your site looking at certain solutions, and trying to learn what you do. It's the same as the person in Office Depot spending 20 minute looking at HD monitors, more often than not, when the sales rep walks up and says "can I help you?" the response is "no thanks, I'm just looking."  The fix to not get shut down in both of these scenarios is the same, change how you engage.  With the visitor on your site, instead of saying " I saw that you were on our site and would like to schedule a call and give you a demo to show you how we can help your organization " to "I know you were looking at some of the solutions we have around enterprise management, are you planning to do some work around that?" Simple question. To the monitor shopper, instead of "can I help you?" ask  "do you have an HD monitor now?" and take the discussion from there. Both of those engage in a conversation.

The most important thing to remember about the Laws of Cold Calling is you can make it  a predictable activity when you design it for real world scenarios. The more you align with your prospects, the more you can achieve the formula for success in a repeatable, consistent way.