I get a ton of magazines in the mail, and while most of them only get a quick scan for interesting articles, Men's Health is one of the few I read cover-to-cover, which is exactly what I did this past weekend.
While I'm mostly interested in the fitness & nutrition articles, I read one about how women have become so empowered in today's world that it's now actually more common for a woman to approach a man and ask him out on a date, than it is for a man to approach a woman.
But, that's not the big news. The real eye-opener was this: Women report that they are far more attracted to a man they approach and ask out, than they are to a man who approaches them!
This is an astounding statement, especially so because the common belief is exactly the opposite. But what's even more interesting is how this applies to sales, and particularly to cold calling.
At a recent presentation, I taught a group of salespeople how to use a "by referral only" method of selling to attract new prospects. And it works. When someone looks at your business card, or website, or marketing collateral, and see the words "Appointments by Referral Only," you instantly appear to be highly desirable and of higher value than your competitors.
Likewise, when a woman must approach a man, he seems more desirable, even if he really isn't - it's the perception that matters. For all she knows, he may have been about to get up and approach her, but the fact that she made the approach is what counts. It sets up a dynamic where he has the higher social status in the situation, and will therefore appear more desirable.
As a salesperson, it's imperative that you keep this dynamic always in mind. You need to think of ways and means to create the perception that the prospect is actually approaching you, or requesting that you work with them, instead of the other way around.
Cold calling is the perfect example of how not to go about this. When you make a cold call, it is an overt approach, and one that makes this dynamic work against you - it immediately puts the prospect on the plus side of the value equation, and you on the negative.
But what if you have to cold call? What if you don't have a referral network yet, or worse, your boss requires cold calling?
Don't despair. There are ways to go about this intelligently. For example, even if you must cold approach prospects, you can do it in a way that doesn't seem like a typical cold call.
One good method is with social media. Create a list of target prospects, something you should do regardless of whether you're cold calling or not, since calling at random is never a good strategy.
Once you've got your target list, do your homework and find out who the decision makers are.
Once that's done, now you can look them up on LinkedIn and Facebook. Look for common interests, or areas of common ground you can use to initiate a contact. Connect online. Once the communication flow is open, you can move right into "Give me a call," or "Shoot me an email." In other words, you actually made the initial contact, but you create the perception that the prospect is starting the sales process.
Forget about traditional cold calling, which doesn't put any value on you, and instead begin looking for ways to begin the communication process with prospects in a more indirect way. You'll find that they put more value on what you have to say, and your closing rate will go up dramatically.