Why Say Yes to Cold Calls?

Written by
Kim Lim

This year, Picha has been really blessed with a lot of amazing opportunities. From collaborations and partnerships, to programmes in helping the founders and the team improve the business - and for that, we are truly grateful.

It was the Investment Ready Program organised by Allianz in collaboration with Impact Hub that Picha had the opportunity to take part in last February.

Swee Lin and I flew to Munich, Germany to attend the program and met up with other social ventures from Brazil, Turkey and also Germany. Besides getting excited about seeing and experiencing snow fall (Sweelin was eating and playing with snow), we went through a 5-day intensive training on getting our social ventures investment-ready. Impact Hub and Allianz brought in different experts to assess and advice the ventures, and there was one workshop that stood out to us as it was very relevant to our journey of growth.

There were two men who run their own business as sales consultants, who came in with very vibrant personality (I guess that’s how you really leave a great impression), delivering a sales coaching program. It was very relevant because their success wasn’t all about luck, it was pure HARD WORK. It showed us that we can do the same and grow our business if we put our minds into it.

I want to share the 5 main points that resonated with us deeply in this write-up. I believe some of you might have heard of it before, but a reminder is no harm! 😉

1. Out of 100% of your cold calls/emails, only 5% MIGHT convert into sales

I understand how doing cold calls today is considered as a very traditional sales method, but they can work as well because people generally like listening to someone who speak with warmth and passion. The trick is this - you don’t have to sound like you are selling them something, but you have to sound like you are helping them to solve a problem.

Sometimes, people ask us during interviews - how did we market our venture at the very first place? Though connections did help us achieve part of the sales, we did hundreds and thousands of cold emails and cold calls when we started. I remember that the first cold email I made was to Malay Mail, asking them to purchase food from us. But instead of purchasing food from us, they offered to do a cover story featuring the work that we do. And boy, that helped us to push Picha to another level.

Once the cover story was out, other medias picked up the stories and were interested to know more about us. All because of one cold email - one simple email that I sent out of hundreds other that we didn’t receive any reply - it brought a great impact to our business.

Till today, we encourage our team members to still spend some time to make cold calls because we know that we are just scratching 1-2% of the potential market that we are targeting. However, making cold calls to the right person is important - so be smart on who you want to target too. Try strategising more so that you can make more effective cold calls and have higher conversion rate.

Though cold calls can be a tedious job, but if it is done effectively, it can be very helpful for the business (if you are choosing to grow organically). Do the math and never ever say that it’s impossible - because from those guys that we heard from, they did 100 cold calls in 2 hours! That’s a crazy testimony itself!

2. NEVER take NO as an answer

If you are going to make a cold call, your aim is to make an appointment with the person you wish to meet. Your aim is not to make the sales happen during the phone call because most likely, it’s not going to happen. Meeting in person can result in higher chances of collaborations, partnerships or sales conversion because there’s warmth, passion and sincerity shown. So, the question now is - how to make the appointments happen?

Don’t take NO as an answer during the phone call. If someone you called said, “We are not interested in your product” or “We are quite busy now, we can’t meet you,” you probably can reply with, “Give me a chance to demonstrate my product to you, it will only take up 15 minutes of your time,” or “I can call you again in 2 days, maybe drop me your number and I’ll speak to you again when you are free.”

Well, they mentioned that people will say YES at the 10th time, so do not give up at the 4th or 6th or 7th times.

However, I believe with such aggressive approach, you might get a 50/50 chance of succeeding or pissing someone off but I think there’s no harm trying (because they might not know you anyway and they won’t be going around bad-mouthing about you). Most importantly, you need to bring sales to your company, that’s the aim.

3. Identifying your sales approach/personality

I believe this is important to every sales person because it defines how you would like to approach your customers or future-customers. You can be a really emotional sales person, using stories to attract people to invest in your vision; or you can be a people-driven sales person, using connections and charisma to talk to someone; or you can even be a numbers-driven sales person, using statistics and numbers to convince potential buyers that your product/services is the best.

There is no right or wrong in your way of approach, it is just identifying which type of sale person you are, so that it is easier for you to approach different customers.

In Picha, our team members have different strengths, and it is great when you are able to identify which person is strong in which approach. With that, it will be more effective to connect a particular customer/collaborator/event to a specific person to follow up with. It might or might not work sometimes, but do not stop trying and experimenting till you get the right idea about what’s best for your business.

Here’s a write-up that I found very useful to identify what type of a sales person you are: https://smallbusiness.chron.com/sales-personality-mean-20021.html

4. Understanding your non-customers

So after identifying which sales personality you are, it’s time to approach the non-customers, and how do you understand them better so that you can create more effective conversations. There are many ways you can learn about the character or personality of a person, whether it is through a phone call, researching about them online before meeting them, understanding them throughout the meeting (if you are a spontaneous and daring person) and know what to say.

Again, some people might be more emotional, analytical, sceptical, etc - it’s important to know what it will take from them to buy in to your vision. Some may prefer stories, some prefer numbers, some prefer facts and some (which Picha finds it sometimes challenging) are strict with rules and regulations.

What we are trying to achieve here is to make meetings more effective, and making sure that collaborations happen. Sometimes an idea doesn’t pop up right away - it happens by conversing a lot and making sure that your brain is always working as well. So, finding the right person to talk is very helpful.

Here’s a write-up to read about if you need help in identifying different personalities of your customers/non-customers for your reference: https://www.slidegenius.com/blog/handle-4-different-personality-types-customers/


Our presenters ended their workshop with this, and I definitely agree with that 500%! Your customers or future-customers don’t deserve your bad mood AT ALL. If you are in a bad mood, don’t make that call, or listen to a REALLY great song like THE GREATEST SHOWMAN before calling! HAHA! (The whole soundtrack has been playing in the Picha office since the day is was released until today, LOL!)

I remember when an intern was working with us and she was making her cold calls, the tone was depressing. It didn’t just make Picha sound boring, but also put the person on the other end of the phone-call into misery. I stopped the intern and told her this, “the next cold call you are going to make, it has to sound like you are about to save that person’s life because he/she might be having a bad day, and you are coming in to brighten his/her day.”. She changed her whole tone immediately, and of course, was able to get more positive responses after that.

I am very proud of the changes that the intern made during her internship period, and our focus comes back to the topic - dial with a smile! You may think that the person at the other end won’t know whether you are smiling or not, but the truth is - they will know! When you smile, your tone changes you will be at a very different state of mind. Try it out yourself right now, smile to yourself, get your muscles activated, and you’ll more positive!

At this point, you might be thinking -  “Ah, it’s really easy to be said than to be done” or “I don’t think all this makes sense when it comes to doing it.”

Yes, it is really easier to be said than to be done, but why give up?

Why not try it out and test out the results?

Picha is built on constant experimentation, failing and learning from the mistakes. No one from Picha team has marketing experience but yet, because we listen and experiment with different methods, we are constantly making sales. Most importantly, we DO NOT STOP trying!

So the same goes to you - do not use “lack of experience” as an excuse, because there are tonnes of lessons and guidelines out there to guide us through. Try it out and let us know what works and what doesn’t. Or let us know your experience if you have already tried certain methods, so that more people can benefit from your experience. Let’s all strive together in building our businesses!

A big shout-out to the team from Impact Hub and Allianz for putting this amazing program together. It was truly an insightful experience and we are really excited to have met the other teams who are all making amazing impact in their respective fields and countries. It was really inspiring knowing that there are many people who are in this together - making the world a better place.

Looking forward to meeting the team again in June, in Munich, Germany!