Long live “Smart-Calling”!


How do you secure a meeting with a high-level decision-maker?

Through cold-calling or social networks?

These two ideologies, the word is not an exaggeration, appear to be in opposition.

On the one hand we have the old school approach: cold-calling. Hundreds of calls – all volume and little preparation. It is exhausting, thankless and still works very well. Agreed closing rates have a tendency to be lower (1 to 3 meetings per 100 raised hands depending on the level of contact and the prior level of qualification) but we can always compensate for that by increasing the volume. It is a question of organisation and effort, so a question of management. Some of my clients have set matters up perfectly so that sales reps get three “first meetings” per week and achieve their new business targets.

On the other hand we have the business friendly approach: social networks. Nowadays everyone is on LinkedIn or Viadeo. It is now quite easy to carry out profiling, to get oneself recommended, to send emails and obtain an appointment in a way that is much less aggressive than cold-calling. There is a caveat though: the most active and present profiles on these networks are “community managers”, sales personnel, head-hunters, those who are preparing the next stage in their career and those who have time to kill. It is far from certain the International Industrial Director you want to meet spends more than five minutes on these sites once a fortnight…

The two approaches are complementary. And yet this leaves rather a gaping hole in our sales prospecting. How can we contact high-level decision-makers who are both protected from sales calls by their assistants and who have neither the time nor the inclination to go onto LinkedIn?


I would suggest an appropriately-named tactic: Smart-Calling.

This is the best of both worlds: on the one hand a pertinent message to get the ball rolling (as social networking initially enabled), and on the other the effectiveness of the telephone to secure a meeting.

Smart-calling can be summed up in three words: “Relevance then telephone”.

Relevance: this is about conveying a message to our decision-maker that is directly connected to his concerns. It requires preparation and investigation in substance in order to build such pertinence. Then we require a little creativity in terms of style to convey this message by breaking down the wall of indifference (hence the use of social networks). There are plenty of ways of doing this for those who have the courage, but it is the substance that will carry the day or not: the message hits home or it doesn’t.

Then telephone: because at some stage you will have to pick up that telephone… Given the previous step, there are numerous tips and tricks for getting past the assistant. The “conversations – meeting secured” conversion rate will go through the roof if the message is relevant.

In fact smart-calling consists of setting a simple idea to music: the availability of top managers during the day depends upon our ability to address issues that keep them awake at night…

François Drillon, EXECUTIVE SELLING (www.executive-selling.com)


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