SDRs, BDRs & Cold Calls

I wrote How to Fix Your Pipeline in August a few weeks ago. One of my 'sales leader' readers sent me a private comment. While I had his attention, I asked if he thought that I should write on any particular topic. He replied, "generating appointments through a cold calling SDR or BDR team is a common issue these days."

By all means, go read the other article, but get ready because I have several thoughts on cold calls.

First... Cold calls? Really? No referrals? No inbound leads? No pay per click? No lead gen on LinkedIn?

As you know, I've spoken with more than a few sales-types and some of them don't know what a cold call is.

  • A person that filled out a form?
  • A person that visited your website, had a demo 3 years ago, but didn't buy?
  • A person that subscribes to your blog?
  • A person that requested a free trial?

None of these people is a cold call even if you don't have their name or number. Even if they've never said, "I'm interested in looking at and maybe buying your stuff." Every one of these people made some sort of a move in your direction. You had their attention. Now you have to continue with IDA.

My idea of a cold call is that the 'prospect' has made no move in your direction. They've given you no reason to reach out to them. They haven't thought about you ever. Don't expect you and you will be a stranger, from a strange company talking about product that they have no interest in or asking about a problem that is none of your business. Did you read this story about 'door to door' cold calls? When you're making cold calls, you're looking for that one person that should be looking for you. I've made cold calls. Have you ever just called everybody on a page in the phone book? How about just dialing numbers in order? (212) 714-###2, (212) 714-###3, (212) 714-###4, etc? I've done both. When I started my business in 1986, I used a criss-cross street directory to call every business in Holden, MA, then every business in the towns that touch Holden, MA. I've made thousands of cold calls. I'm really good at them. They suck! The goal has to be to not need to make cold calls because you're getting enough business from other sources.

If you absolutely need to make cold calls, you can try this.

Pretend that I sell demonic software.

Write someone's name and phone number down on a piece of paper and add, "Call about demonic software."

Now dial their number. They answer. I say, "Hi, I'm looking for (their name)."

"You got him."

"Hi (first name). Rick Roberge."

They ask, "Can I help you?"

I reply, "Uh oh."

They ask, "Uh oh, what?"

Sounds like you don't recognize my name.

What's your name again?

Rick Roberge.

Nope, not ringing a bell.

I hate when this happens. Can I take half a step backwards and tell you why I'm calling?

Sure. Go ahead.

I found this piece of paper. It's got your name on it. You're (their name) right?


And ###-###-#### is your number right.


And the paper says, "Call about demonic software." You didn't ask for this call?

I don't remember asking.

Can I ask, have you been talking with anybody about demonic software recently?

Well, I was talking with Joe, about it.

Me: "Maybe that's it. What were you and Joe talking about?"

Look for pain, compelling reasons, needs and have fun doing it.

That's one cold approach that I've used. I assure you that your SDRs and BDRs and even most of your reps won't be able to do it because they don't have my Sales DNA, but if you have to make cold calls, you have to do what it takes.

Now, assuming that you're not making real cold calls, your people are calling dead leads, cold leads, passers-by, ex-rep leads, etc. etc. etc. Here's the rule. Your rep needs to find out why you got their attention way back when and drill down. The problem is that your rep is looking at the list wondering who they can close and I would be reaching out to have a conversation. By the time your rep decides who they can close, I've got 5 conversations and a moving pipeline.

I had a conversation with a rep that only up sells and cross sells to existing customers. I hear me asking, "Looks like you've been a customer for about six months. Got time for a five minute call? I have a quick question." They'll reply, "What's the question?"

It's been six months. Are you rich yet?

If your people are trying to sell, they're probably tripping over their own feet.

There are a lot of possibilities. If you'd like to explore yours, start here.

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