Four Tips for Approaching a Cold Prospect List

Updated: October 27, 2010

Define what success looks like (for you and for them).

Of course you want new business from the list. But what does that look like? What does success look like when you're working with and/or helping these new customers? Perhaps more importantly, what does success look like for them when and after working with you? What could you enable for their business? What among their current needs and objectives are you most likely to address? Understanding these fundamental needs gives you a starting point for creating value from the first point of contact (vs. looking like just another company trying to sell something).

What's in it for them, right now?

Answer this question more tactically now, beyond the broader definition of success for your prospective customers. Why should they listen to you? What do you have to offer them right now that can help them? What's worth 5-10 minutes of their time right now that both gives you a crack in the door, and delivers immediate value to their job and/or business? Most businesses, in a first approach with a new prospect, focus on themselves. They figure it's more important to introduce who they are and what they do. And while this is indeed important, it's how everyone else leads their first call or pitch. If you want to be different and stand out, know the prospect well enough to offer them something contextually relevant and valuable. They'll figure out what you do soon enough.

Think long-term.

These prospects are cold. They don't know you yet. Unless you represent a potential impulse buy, don't expect miracles and one-call closes right off the bat. In fact, delivering something of value (instead of making a sales pitch) as recommended above assumes that you're in for a multi-touch relationship-building and sales process. Cold calls rarely convert into immediate sales. Effectively-done cold calls earn you the next call, where you have the right to go a little deeper, start to talk more about what you do, and position that as a benefit to the prospect.

Test first.

Before you prepare a massive direct mail campaign or give the entire prospect list to your sales rep, pick a handful of names and make the call. Test your message and value-added offer. Script the short voicemail and first few seconds of the live call (if they answer) so you know whether the research and thoughtfulness you put into the approach and offer is working. This isn't going to give you quantitative, definitive results, but should help you determine if your approach is directionally valuable to both the prospect as well as your effort to convert a cold prospect list into warm relationships and, eventually, closed business.

Featured Research
  • 2017 Contact Center Software Cost Guide

    Are you paying too much for your contact center software? Are you satisfied with its capabilities, or do you wish it did more? These are questions most businesses don’t take the time to think about, even though contact center software is one of the most important investments that you’ll make. With a little bit of planning, you can end up saving money and still end up with better functionality. more

  • What You Need to Know About VoIP Security

    No matter the industry or area of expertise, a strong VoIP system is the perfect tool for any business looking to take both its internal and external communication to the next level. more

  • Are You Using These 5 VoIP Features?

    In large part, the success of your business depends on the strength and reliability of your team’s many communication networks—this includes your Voice over Internet Protocol system (VoIP). more

  • Video Conferencing Best Practices

    Video conferencing is quickly becoming one of the most important communication channels for both small and big businesses. As more businesses turn to this technology, expectations about the experience are also rising. It’s not enough to just offer video conferencing as a communication method. You also need to meet minimum audio and visual standards, and there’s even proper etiquette to consider. more

  • 10 Contact Center Myths Busted

    For most forward-thinking companies, the use of contact center software is on the rise. That said, in spite of contact center software’s sudden rise in popularity, a number of myths have begun to take shape. more