First, it’s all about attitude. Your attitude.
You’re never going to be completely ready to meet new people; there is no perfect moment. Your fears will never be completely quieted, because inviting rejection is never going to be appealing. There are always a hundred reasons to procrastinate. The trick is to just plunge right in. Remember, if you don’t believe you are going to get what you want from the call, you probably won’t. So, in the words of Caddy Shack, “Be the ball.” You have to envision yourself winning to win.
And second, cold calls are for suckers. I don’t call cold—ever. I’ve created strategies that ensure every call I make is a warm one.
In fifteen seconds, I used my four rules for what I call warm calling:
1) Convey credibility by mentioning a familiar person or institution—in this case, John, Jeff, and WebMD.
2) State your value proposition: Jeff’s new product would help Serge sell his new products.
3) Impart urgency and convenience by being prepared to do whatever it takes whenever it takes to meet the other person on his or her own terms.
4) Be prepared to offer a compromise that secures a definite follow-up at a minimum.
Here are some of the rules I follow fleshed out in more detail:
1. Draft off a reference. The reason a cold call feels like torture was set out in vivid detail fifty or so years ago in an advertisement, recalled by Harvey Macka, in his book Swim with the Sharks. It pictures a corporate killjoy facing the reader, who is cast in the role of the salesman. The killjoy says: I don’t know who you are. I don’t know your company. I don’t know what your company stands for. I don’t know your company’s customers. I don’t know you company’s products. I don’t know your company’s reputation. Now—what was it you wanted to sell me? You can see the total lack of credibility one has when making a cold call. Credibility is the first thing you want to establish in any interaction, and ultimately, no one will buy from you unless you establish trust. Having a mutual friend or even acquaintance will immediately make you stand out from the other anonymous individuals vying for a piece of someone’s time.
2. State your value. Acquiring a reference or institution to draft off of is only a starting point. It will help you get your foot in the door. Once you have someone’s commitment to hear you out for thirty seconds, you’ll need to be prepared to deliver a high-value proposition. You’ve got very little time to articulate why that person should not try to get off the phone as quickly as possible. Remember, it’s all about them. What can you do for them?
3. Talk a little, say a lot. Make it quick, convenient, and definitive. You want to impart both a sense of urgency and a sense of convenience. Instead of closing with “We should get together some time soon,” I like to finalize with something like “I’m going to be in town next week. How about lunch on Tuesday? I know this is going to be important for both of us, so I’ll make time no matter what.”
4. Offer a compromise. In any informal negotiation, you go big at the outset, leaving room for compromise and the ability to ratchet down for an easier close. I closed my pitch to Serge by suggesting that even if he didn’t want to hear anything about digital content, I’d love to get together with him just to meet, given our mutual friend’s admiration and respect."
Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time by Keith Ferrazzi, Tahl Raz