The Hottest Cold Call

  • March 19th, 2013
  • Guest Post

Patrick Morin is a partner with The Cross Partnership, a global consultancy that is engaged by private equity groups, boards of directors, and CEOs to improve the performance of their invested companies. The Cross Partnership works with select start-ups, growth companies, and turnarounds to stabilize operations and ramp up revenue and employee performance.

Of course it sounds crazy.

There are moments in our lives that, because of some emotional connection, we remember more than others. For most of us these include our wedding day, graduation or the birth of a child.

For me, mixed in with all of these monumental events, is a cold-call message left on my voicemail when we still had the apartment company.

Sounds odd, right?

That’s because as a sales professional, executive and speaker, I had heard thousands of calls and none had ever had the impact of this one. It was a cold-call message so good that I stopped what I was doing, played it back three times, and then returned the call.

“Mr. Morin, this is Roger McNamara with American Express. I’ve been watching your marketing campaigns down in Dallas. They’re excellent. We’ve been kicking around an idea that might help boost your occupancy a couple of points and solidify the brand message that you have been sending. I’d like your opinion. Please ring me at 555-1212. That’s five, five, five, one, two, one, two. Again, Roger McNamara, American Express.”

How do I remember this so clearly? I was so blown away by the conciseness and efficacy of the call I actually saved it and played it to audiences around the country until it was accidentally deleted.

What makes this call so good? Let’s break it down.

The first attention-getter was the confidence.

It came across in every word he uttered, but it was really demonstrated in the statement of his name and his company. Roger was completely proud of who he was, his affiliation and what he did for a living. His clarity and authority made me take the call seriously and set me at ease that I was dealing with a professional; someone who clearly knew where he was going.

Secondly, it was clear from Roger’s second sentence that he had done his homework. He was actively engaged in learning about our business, our messaging, what we were trying to accomplish before getting on the telephone. This communicated that he was not going to waste time by trying to get educated on our dime.

Thirdly, “We’ve been kicking around an idea that might help boost your occupancy a couple of points and solidify the brand message that you have been sending.” Wow! There’s a lot here.

He had been thinking about our problem. At the time, we were engaged in a pretty heated battle for renters in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. We were paying people to solve this problem and here comes a guy I don’t know who was giving time and attention to solving it?! Moreover, he didn’t make some wild claim — “boost…a couple of points” was believable. It was big enough to matter and small enough to be achievable. Combine this with the “solidify the brand message” comment — our secondary objective — and he had a high credibility quotient in my eyes. The use of “kicking around” told me that he wasn’t going to pitch me some cookie-cutter solution and this meant innovation. This was intriguing.

“I’d like your opinion.” In coming up with solutions to our nagging problem, this guy was asking us only to return a call, evaluate his solution and offer an opinion. Who doesn’t want to offer their opinion? More importantly, he refrained from blurting out the idea and giving me the opportunity to dismiss it. To satisfy my curiosity, I had to pick up the phone, call him and engage. Countless are the times sales people spill their guts on an initial call trying to rattle off as many facts and benefits as they can in 60 seconds. This is as misguided as handing over your memoirs on a first date.

Finishing the call, he said his name slowly, clearly and repeated his phone number twice. This not only helped me make sure I got it, but it also emphasized he indeed was expecting a return call.

Lastly, Roger wrapped all the above with a vibrancy and energy that got me excited to hear what he had to say. He was upbeat, positive, confident and genuinely enthused to share what he had found. One couldn’t tell whether this was his first cold call of the day or the hundredth and, frankly, I didn’t care — I just wanted him on the phone.

Ironically, when I returned his call I got his voicemail and, for a moment, had a moment of stage fright!

Roger’s voicemail message got the result. He got the return call. He got the meeting. He got the contract. We were all very happy with the results.

And that cold call is indelibly recorded in the scrap book of my mind.

Do your prospects remember yours?

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