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<b>Cold Calling: Don’t Be a Flash in the Pan</b>

“How long do you plan to be in business?” Roy Williams asks in one of his trilogy Wizard of Ads books. What are you doing to make sure you’re here tomorrow?

You advertise. Good. Television is out of the question of course. Too much moola. Your Yellow Page ad has that phone ringing off the hook. What’s that? Oh? It’s not?

Well, at least you’ve got your newspaper ads running every day. Oh? Not doing those either? Never saw the results you expected? Hmmm.

How about direct mail? Surely that will work. Huh? You’ve heard too many horror stories of monies lost? (Believe me…they’re true!)

But Yellow Pages? Newspapers? What’s the problem? Williams found that people who respond to your Yellow Page ad call when they don’t know who else to call and they’re shoppers who have no preference.

He calls newspaper advertising the “sprinter’s” of advertising. Such advertising is good for companies that are looking for people who are buying today. Short-term sales. What are the chances of that? Plus, newspaper advertising doesn’t build relationships with people buying weeks or months down the road.

In one way, cold calling is similar to newspaper advertising. The average cold caller is looking for a deal today. Hold your fingers up in front of your face. Go ahead. All ten of them. Now count the number of sales you’ve made on your first cold call. Are you going to make a good living at that rate?

I call this type of cold calling – looking for a quick sale now – flash in the pan marketing. The average cold caller fails to understand that the prospect will buy what he’s selling some time in the future once he has the need. Rather than take the time to start a relationship so he’ll be remembered when the need arises, he hangs up and makes his next call. Like the early prospector looking in his pan of silt and rocks, he fails to recognize the gold nuggets and throws them out with the wash.

This is not to say that cold calling doesn’t work. It does. I think – no I know from over 30 years of experience – that this is one of the fastest ways to build your business. Where I differ from most others is the follow-up required for cold calling. 95% of salespeople don’t do it. Their laziness is great for me. By failing to follow-up and build relationships, they do more to eliminate themselves than anything I could ever do to knock them out of the picture.

If you’re doing cold calls as a “numbers game” you’re a flash in the pan salesperson. I’m not saying you can’t make a good living doing it, but from my research only 1% of salespeople have the endurance to play the numbers game like this. They could care less about having any relationship, want the commission now, and want to move on. Most of these people you wouldn’t even want to do business with yourself.

Success in advertising (and cold calling is self-advertising) comes in the follow-up. It comes in qualifying and building a long-term relationship with the prospects. And qualifying doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, all you have to determine is if the prospect is buying your service or product from your competitor. If she is, establish a relationship. She has a need for what you’re selling.

Things change and the chances of her doing business with your competitor for a lifetime are 0%. She’ll be changing vendors. You can take that to the bank. This is where your relationship guarantees the prospect remembers you first when she’s ready to buy later. If you’re a flash in the pan, a onetimecallPaul, she’ll never think of you. If you’re a professional, if you have a relationship that none of your competitors bothered to establish, you’ll be the first one she calls.

A problem we have in sales is that we want instant gratification. Our commissions are tied directly to our sales. Our sales managers need sales closed before the end of the month. Business owners need sales now to meet payrolls. We want sales without taking the time to build any pesky relationships. This is the flash in the pan approach to selling. It’s the man who wants his fish today without learning how to fish. (A fish in the pan approach?) I know it’s tough, but in sales you’ve got to work both sides of the street: get the quick sales when you can, but establish and build relationships for the long term sales tomorrow.

Find your company’s top salespeople. It won’t be hard. It’ll be just one or two. Take them to lunch. Talk about selling. Ask about relationships. The best salespeople know that relationships are created by repeated contacts: visits, phone calls, and cards. I bet they can tell you so many good stories about their clients you’d be amazed, awed, and blowing milk out your nose from laughter. They have the skinny and the dirt on everyone. They have relationships. They didn’t get to be the best because they’re flashes in the pan.

Learn how to fish. That crazy fish isn’t going to jump into the frying pan without some type of relationship.

© 2006 Jerry Hocutt, Hocutt & Associates, Inc. Download your FREE ebook, Creating Sales Opportunities – Five Proven Ways, and get a FREE 30-day trial of the D-I-Y Sales & Marketing Email Postcards™ at For many more sales & marketing tips, visit our blog at

About the Author: I’ve Been Compared to David Letterman. My mission: to help Salesknockers™ (the rare and seldom seen business person or salesperson who creates their own opportunities) succeed. I’ve trained over 150,000 people in business since 1992 through our nationally acclaimed Cold Calling for Cowards® seminars. (“He’s the Zen Master of Cold Calls” – Los Angeles Times.) I’ve been compared to David Letterman by the New Brunswick (NJ) Star-Ledger (“Lord of the Rings”). “Okay, so he’s not David Letterman.” (I didn’t say it was flattering. Just that I’ve been compared to him.)

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