Brandt Krueger

Freelance Technical Meeting and Event Production, Education, Speaking, and Consulting. Geek Dad, Husband

Consultant, Meeting and Event Technology
Owner, Event Technology Consulting
Instructor, Event Leadership Institute
Host, GatherGeeks - A Podcast by BizBash

On Why Cold Calling Frequently Doesn't Work

Many discussions have centered around whether cold calling does or does not work.  I have gone on record that no matter what the source (I've been cold called by giants such as Best Buy and HP), it always feels a little, I don't know, desperate. That being said, I always try to be polite and open minded.  You never know when opportunity may come calling, and sometimes, just sometimes, it may be calling with the deal of the century.  I try to be honest about whether or not I may have a use for whatever product or service is being flogged, and this generally helps to prevent wasting the salesperson's (or my) time.

Recently I was cold called regarding outsourcing our IT department.  We're a lean company, and for many years I was our IT department.  When I could no longer handle it myself, we weighed the options of hiring a full time person or outsourcing.  We decided to outsource, and while it hasn't always been the smoothest ride, all in all it's saved more headaches than it's caused.

Maybe a month before I was called, we'd just re-upped with our current provider for another two years.  I politely explained this to the caller, but said that if he sent me some information on his company I'd be happy to check them out and keep them in mind when it came time to reconsider in about a year and a half.  Emails were exchanged and the conversation ended.

A couple of weeks later, I received the following email:

HI Brandt,
I spoke with you a couple weeks ago and sent an email about my company. I would very much like to come and show you how we are superior to (*current provider*) in a variety of ways. Please allow me 15 minutes to demonstrate what we do and how we can reduce your costs.
My job is to simply set appointments and based on our conversation I know that we are an ideal fit for your company. A couple years is too long to wait before comparing managed IT service. I promise you that are service is priced below all competitors, we offer unique perks that others do not.
Let me know when you would be available for me to stop in.

There were no attachments.

So, to be clear, I explained that I would not be evaluating new companies for at least a year and half and requested information about his company.  Instead, I received NO information and an immediate meeting request- the exact opposite.  I'm afraid my response was less than polite this time.

And so I respectfully submit the following thoughts and questions:

  • The question isn't whether or not cold calling works, but rather whether or not your "post call" strategy works.
  • What do you do when you hang up the phone?
  • Why did it take this person over a week to follow up?
  • Why did they ignore my timeline and push their own?
  • Why didn't they send the information the second they got off the phone with a polite "Thanks for your time" email, and then put a note in their calendar to call a year and a half from now?
  • Was I, as the potential customer, wrong to be annoyed or should I adopt a more "He's just doing his job" mentality?

As always, comments and criticisms are welcome below.

-Brandt

********* Update ************

Moments after posting this, the salesperson in question responded to my email.  For context, here was my (admittedly less than polite) initial response:

Hi (*Blah Blah Blah*),

While I understand you are just doing your job ("to simply set appointments"), I have a very low tolerance for companies and people that represent those companies that do not listen to their (in my case, potential) customers.
I explained to you why we won't be needing your services in the near future (we're under contract for the next two years) and asked you to just send me some information on your company.
Instead, you've sent me no information and requested an immediate meeting, which is the exact opposite of what I asked.
Had you done what I asked, I would have looked at your information, filed it, and (if warranted) seriously considered your company when we do start looking in a year and a half or so.
Instead, you've just annoyed a potential customer.  Your company may or may not come up when we get to that point. Please do not contact me in the meantime.
Thanks,
Brandt

Despite my "Please do not contact me in the meantime", here was his response:

Brandt,

I would guess the information that you would like is pricing, right. I do not have that, nor would I send an email with it. That would not benefit me or my company. It would only benefit your firm. Please understand that and the fact that I am only paid to set appointments so that we can provide pricing(far less expensive than your current vendor). I doubt that I have really annoyed you. See attachment and call us when you want an exceptional managed IT service.

Best, (*Blah Blah Blah*)

So many things wrong with that response...

Actually, no, Mr. Blah Blah Blah.  I was referring to maybe a fact sheet about what services your company provides, or perhaps a case study, or something.  The "attachment" mentioned was a PDF of some of the awards the company had won.

And if you hadn't "really" annoyed me before, you have now.