I just got off the phone with Robert Graham of Whitetail Software.  I got in touch with him because he is selling a book on a subject near to my heart, cold calling.  Plucking up the courage to pick up a phone and call to potential customers is the single most impactful skill I have ever learned, and I was delighted to hear this entrepreneur talk about the subject.  

Robert has put down his experiences in a book and I was keen to buy a copy after talking with him on the phone.  Hmm.  I guess he really is good at selling on the phone.

Anyways.  What do you get for your $39 hard earned dollars when you buy

The case for cold calling:  In my mind, there is really no reason for startups not to use the phone.  Typical conversion rates on an online squeeze page is 0.5 to 1%.  Sales developed over the phone are 10 to twenty times more effective.  Robert goes through some of his own reasons why you should consider this channel.  Chief amongst them for him is the opportunity to get feedback and understand the problem domain.  It is fair to say that this applies most to new startups, and he references The Lean Startup methodology of customer development.

The Process:  You could probably guess the process involved in putting together a cold calling campaign, but Robert offers worked examples, which I found to be the best part of the book.  Everything from preparation to note taking and post mortems are detailed.  In particular there were good vs bad examples which illustrated the points well.

Fear:   Fear of rejection is probably why everyone doesn’t spend more time on the phone calling prospective contacts.  Perhaps in this online world, its easy to forget that this is all people did a few short years ago.  Again, there is a bit of a pep talk on the reasons for getting off the bench.  His own story is entertaining and mirrored my early experiences.

Techniques:  There are a few tips and tricks that help the whole process smoother.  I learned a few things here.  Chief amongst them was keeping the initial contact short.  On average, it takes 6 contacts before someone is ready to buy, and its sometimes easy to forget that.  Just establish the level of interest, ask for a time to call back, and get off the phone.

So who should buy this book?  I’d say it best suited to people starting a new business but I’m pretty happy with my ROI for the money spent although I’ve been doing it for years.  The one thing that I don’t really agree with is that telesales are not scalable.  In fairness, he raises this an objection that some people have to cold calling, rather than an opinion, but I know that telesales as a process is repeatable.

You can find out more about the book over at A Smart Bear where he provided a guest post on the subject.


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