As marketers and business owners, what’s the one part of our jobs that we hate the most?
I’m not psychic, but I’m guessing that if I said, “cold calling” 99% of people would agree with me.
If you’ve ever done it, you’ll know why. As humans, we dread rejection. People who aren’t very good at cold calling (which is most of us) are likely to get rejected a lot. Add to this the sense of shame and guilt that comes from asking busy people for their time or money, and it can be a demoralizing experience.
But does cold calling really have to be so awkward and horrible—both for the caller and the prospect?
Perhaps we’ve just been going about it the wrong way all these years.
At least, that’s the contention of Nick Cownie, an Australian entrepreneur who has overhauled this much-maligned marketing technique to achieve a gobsmacking 95% conversion rate.
No, that’s not a typo. I really did say 95%!
It takes someone special to go against the flow and embrace such an unsexy lead generation technique and turn it into a powerful tool for growth. But Nick is a fascinating guy.
Somewhat of a polymath, Nick first developed an interest in human interaction as a teenager, when a friend gave him a book on body language. Later, he studied Neurolinguistic Programming, eventually sitting on the Australian Board of NLP.
Before he started his marketing consultancy Nick practiced traditional Chinese medicine, spending 10 years as a paediatric specialist in acupuncture.
A major diagnostic approach in Chinese medicine is “pattern identification,” a technique that looks for patterns in the underlying causes of conditions rather than focusing on the symptoms themselves.
Nick quickly learned to use this skill to recognize patterns across all areas of his life, finally applying it, along with his extensive knowledge of NLP, to sales and marketing. Not surprisingly he achieved incredible success.
Anatomy of a Cold Call
The first thing Nick noticed about traditional approaches to cold calling was that they followed the opposite logic to Internet marketing. Where an online marketer might give away something valuable for free in exchange for an email address or phone number, cold callers are usually trying to take something from a prospect.
By flipping the conventional wisdom on cold calling, Nick came up with a whole new approach.
One of the most important innovations in Nick’s technique is that he gives on the first call.
It sounds simple, but it’s this revolutionary idea that has generated such a high conversion rate: prospects are much more likely to hand over an email address or agree to a consultation if they’re getting something for free.
Following Up With a Fix
Another convention of cold calling is to scout for opportunities by asking your prospect about the biggest problem in their business. While Nick retains this strategy, he does so with a couple of innovative tweaks.
After learning of a prospect’s problem a conventional cold caller might offer their product or service as a solution, again attempting to take from them.
Instead, Nick offers to solve the problem right there on the spot!
The logic here is that by solving one problem for free, Nick shows that he is capable of solving all of the prospect’s problems.
He is no longer asking them to make a leap of faith, but to make a rational decision based on results.
A True Free Thinker
While Nick’s cold calling technique is unique, he can also teach us another valuable lesson.
In marketing, it’s easy to get caught up in the latest trends. We all need to keep abreast of where the industry is headed. But following blindly won’t differentiate us from out competitors, and it certainly won’t help us uncover new opportunities.
Free thinkers like Nick show us that trusting our gut and going against the grain can really pay off. Especially when we uncover a massive opportunity that others have ignored.
To listen to Nick run through his three-step cold calling technique in more detail, check out episode 87 my podcast, Marketing Speak, where Nick breaks down each call blow-by-blow. Since Nick no longer offers coaching services, it’s one of the few places you can get this information!