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The Art of Cold-Calling

The Art of Cold-Calling (from Dr. Charles Savage)

There is both information and energy “out there,” but how do we connect to this?
Cold-Calling is one way to come into conversations that can be fruitful in many ways, bringing:

  • Critical information,
  • A deeper understanding of the dynamics of the market,
  • Seeing new trends before others,
  • An extension of one’s network,
  • Key references to others (and other companies),
  • A better understanding of the underlying dynamics of an industry,
  • A new client,
  • And potentially paid projects!

The Opening Statement:
Cold-calling involves an awakening of curiosity on the person(s) being called:

“Hello, this is Tom Smith from the xyz company, we are preparing a lead article on (name the topic that might interest the caller) for the (newspaper, blog, periodical, association, etc.).   In our various calls we are discovering some fascinating trends. Might we ask you two questions and it should not take more than ten minutes?”

Here you have identified yourselves, your mission and then awakened the interest of the caller as you may have information the caller would like to know about. In addition, you show you are not asking for a lot of time, just ten minutes to ask two questions.

Energy and Curiosity:
Connecting with the caller’s “energy” and “curiosity.” As I learned in Aikido when growing up on Maui in Hawaii, the challenge is to reframe the relationship in order to connect with and work with the energy of the other. Aikido stands for “the way of the binding with the KI,” which in Japanese is “energy,” similar to “Chi” in China or “Prana” in India.

After a number of calls you will begin to collect some very interesting and valuable information, identify trends and connect with the energy of a number of key people. And with this, your inner self-confidence radiates a message that you are an interesting person with whom to talk.

Finding the Person to Call:
How do you find your “conversation partners?” The local press is often a good resource. If someone is mentioned in the press, he or she is intrigued about how they might be seen by the “general public.” Or go to an industry association and they have a web site, publications, conferences, etc. where you can find interesting people (and a bit about them). When you call, mention where you found their name as a door opener.

Humility, Curiosity, Appreciation and Deep Listening:
If you call as a “know-it-all,” forget to even try! It takes a lot of “humility” to listen deeply, an openness to pick up on the little (really tiny) clues that the called person might offer and always with appreciation. This can only work through deep listening – intuitive listening – where you begin to pick up the clues and the patterns intuitively and sometimes say, “Do I understand that you are pointing to … (and suggest something that the person may not have said, but seems to be referring to).”

The Germans make a distinction between “hören,” which is simply to hear what is being said and “Zuhören” which is listening to the messages, by intuition and inference, that are below the surface of the words being expressed.

The Person Being Interviewed:
I spent about four years working with a Swedish consulting firm, where we did cold-calling every day and I was often struck by how much the person called what willing to share. Why? I soon realized that in many companies people do not feel they are really being listened to by their peers and colleagues – do to the competitive atmosphere. When they find someone who will listen deeply and with appreciation, they are more than willing to talk.

Shift from “Either/Or” to “Both/And” Conversations:
We are so schooled in “either/or” thinking by our schools and work places. There is always a right and a wrong answer. So in conversations with one another, we often begin a response to another with the “big bad BUT!” This is very “off-putting” for the other. Please never do this in a cold-call.   Instead, use the “both/and” approach, where you say, “I like what you’ve just said, and could we also ….” This gets the conversation flowing and brings to the surface many thoughts and feelings that give the conversation color and texture.

Now your Turn:
Please share with me what you discover about the cold-calling process that I’ve overlooked or not considered. Thanks.

Dr. Charles Savage

Bruno Müller
Corporate Advisor „Business-Model-Innovation“
Digital Transformation – Startup Developer – Serial Entrepreneur
Lecturer for Innovation and Entrepreneurial Management


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