Does Cold Outreach Really Work?

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So many people say cold calling is dead or they say  reaching out to someone you don’t know won’t be successful. That is not our experience. We have 17 Door Openers on our team who have reached out successfully to people they don’t know and who have developed new client relationships for our clients.

These relationships have turned into sales opportunities our clients would otherwise not have had. For example, one Texas technology client wanted to get in the door for initial meetings with CIOs and VPs in the media and entertainment industries. None of the people on the list were people our Door Opener knew before making the first contact. And, he was successful securing meetings with NBC, ABC, Cablevision, HBO, Universal, etc.

Why was he successful when the salesperson at our client’s company had not been prior? Here are a few secrets:

  1. Identify exact right prospects (company/title) who meet your “A” level client criteria
  2. Research the individual decision maker who is in the position
  3. Plan the strategy of your approach (i.e. email, phone, reaching out to assistant, Linked in, etc.)
  4. Decide on the sales message to use (strategic language that piques the interest of the right prospect)
  5. Prepare answers for anticipated objections
  6. Go!
  7. Record all notes and plan your next outreach in your CRM
  8. Repeat

I was recently at a Women of EO Leadership Summit in Aspen, CO with 120 other women business owners. We were lucky to have Jennifer Hyman, founder of Rent the Runway as a speaker. Susan Lindner, of Emerging Media Inc., interviewed Jennifer in a fireside chat. Jennifer told us many of the lessons she learned in launching this $100 million-dollar business. While there were so many great stories, there was one that resonated with me most.

When she initially came up with the idea for Rent the Runway she wanted to speak with someone big in the world of fashion to confirm her idea had huge market potential. She wanted a meeting with Diane von Furstenberg. She didn’t know Diane and she didn’t know anyone who knew Diane. She wasn’t going to any events where she would meet Diane. In order to get that meeting she had to reach out to Diane directly, even though she didn’t know her. She told us that she did her research and wrote Diane a personal email. If I had to guess she went through most if not all of the steps above. While she didn’t share the email with us, she did share the results. Diane wrote back with her within 24 hours and said she wanted to meet with her the next day in New York at 5pm.

If I had to guess, she used a really good subject line and personalized the email so that it was relevant to Diane.  She made it short and concise, with a clear call to action. She achieved her intended result. The lesson is, it is possible to get a meeting with somebody you don’t know by saying something incredibly compelling and by making that person so interested that he/she will want to cancel meetings with three other people to have a meeting with you.

Next time you feel powerless because you need to meet people you don’t know remember there are 17 people at my company who are successfully reaching out to people they don’t know and getting meetings for our clients. Even though they are experienced at doing this there are also people, like Jennifer Hyman, who aren’t and still are successful. It is possible for you to get a meeting with someone you don’t know.

Dan Kennedy says, “The difference between salad and garbage is timing.” Hang in there and keep trying. Your competition won’t!

Happy Hunting!


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