Q: I avoid meeting face-to face with potential customers. I developed a very good pet care product, but I need users and feedback. The thought of traipsing from one vet’s office to another and having no-takers is daunting. I want to get more comfortable with the cold-calling process. Please help! Ron P. Mokena, Illinois
Cold calling can be uncomfortable, and there may be some real and unfounded reasons that discourage you from visiting potential customers. One of my favorite ways to re-frame a sales call with a high risk of rejection is to approach a cold calls as an “information gathering” visit. Assuming that you truly believe in the value and purpose of your product, here are a few ideas:
Put together a basic script: a greeting, an introduction and the problem your product can solve. Add a dose of friendliness and gratitude for their time. Practice with friends until you’re smooth.
Ask what product they are using now (you should have a good knowledge of your competition) and point out what makes your product special, more effective or easier to use. Supply proof.
Drop in on stores that would likely carry a product like yours and ask the manager for feedback on the looks of your product. Ask what they’d do differently. They may know an expert who can enhance the look of your product. Don’t be surprised if he/she asks for a sample and a business card!
Make notes of what your potential customers had to say and learn from it. Ask, “I want to make my product better, what would make you want to give it a try?” With this approach, most folks will give you some advice. Being a seeker of information first and a salesman second may make the “jagged little pill” of cold calling easier to swallow.
For more on the subject of cold calling, check out Cold-Calling for Cowards by Jerry Hocutt.
Need help connecting with potential customers face-to-face? Contact me at [email protected]