TALKING SALES 198: "There is no such thing as a warm call"

John Smibert

Warm Call 01 with words 700x440            "There are only cold calls or hot referral calls - you choose!" - Joanne Black with John Smibert.

Is there such a thing as a 'warm" sales call. 

Can you improve your success rate by warming up your calls?

Joanne BlackJoanne Black believes the concept of a warm call is fantasy. In her mind all calls are 'cold' unless it is the result of a properly constructed referral.

According to Joanne, even with research and the identification of trigger events, your approach is cold and it takes 8-15 touches to reach someone?

"That's insanity" she exclaimed. 

A call is either cold - you don't know the person, they don't expect to hear from you - or it's hot, you receive a referral introduction.

With a referral they welcome your call. You actually get every meeting with one call, because you've been introduced by someone your prospect knows and trusts.

Why waste time, effort and resources making 15 approaches when you can achieve it in one call.

Read or view the full interview below to learn more

This is one in a series of interviews with Joanne where we will learn more on how to generate referrals more effectively - stay tuned.


Joanne Black, sales author and keynote speaker, is America's leading authority on referral selling. See Joanne's Website and Twitter account.


John: Welcome back, delighted to have you again and delighted to have Joanne with me - Joanne Black, welcome!

Joanne: Thank you, John!

John: Hey Joanne, we've been having some great discussions about referral selling and so on, and a question comes to mind. There's a lot of people out there that talk about not just cold calling but warm approaches, warm calls, and they say there's a way in which you do your cold calls where you get a warm approach. What do you think about that?

Joanne: You may know by now, but I call it the warm call fantasy. [laughs] There's really no such thing as a warm call. Here's the way it works. A call is either cold - you don't know the person, they don't expect to hear from you - or it's hot, you receive a referral introduction.

Warm Call 02 - PutinJohn: And they expect to hear from you.

Joanne: Absolutely, they welcome your call. You actually get every meeting with one call, because you've been introduced by someone your prospect knows and trusts.

John: Okay, that makes sense. There's a lot of people out there that talk about, instead of being cold you're you're warming it up. You're saying they're not really doing that at all, it's a fantasy.

Joanne: It is fantasy, because here's how they think. They think, "Well, I can research them," which is imperative, we must do that background research, "I identify trigger events," do you know how tired I am of that term, "and therefore I know what's going on in the company. They're expanding, they're going international, or they have a new CEO, a new head of sales, whatever it is, trigger events. Then I can send an email telling them why it's so important that they talk to me," and it doesn't matter because it's still cold. And it can be an email, it can be a social media outreach, it can be a phone call...

John: Let me put this in perspective. A cold call I understand, it is totally cold. If you have a trigger, you've done some research, you have some insight, "I've got something of value to talk to this person," and you are able to refer to those, you might increase the chance of them being interested in talking to you. But marginally is what you're saying.

Joanne: Might...

John: By comparison, getting that proper referral.

Joanne: Why would salespeople waste their time doing that when your cold outreach takes 8-15 touches to reach someone? That's insanity, and as a sales leader why would I want my team doing it? But they have to do it, because I'm telling them they have to make x number of calls a day, send x number of emails a day, and ultimately they will get a meeting.

Warm Call 03 - multiple phonesJohn: Okay, let's put something to you though. If I identify a trigger... I know you hate that term, but let me just say there's a trigger, there's something that happened in the company or the industry or whatever that means that they will be thinking about this subject, and now I get a referral to somebody in that organisation that I know will be thinking about it... Put the two together and you've got yourself a very powerful story, haven't you?

Joanne: Of course you have, and you need to get those insights and I'm not debating that, it's critical, but where you will really get the insights about the person is from the person who refers you. In fact, I was introduced to the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. I didn't realise at the time that he was a CEO of a Fortune 500 company, but I was introduced by his best customer who was the head of worldwide sales, and I had an amazing conversation with him. What he said to me was that what he wanted from salespeople were insights, he didn't want any pitching... Because if you think about it, these people really live in somewhat of a bubble, and we as salespeople are out there, we're learning from everybody and we can share that. But the person who referred me gave me a lot of personal insights about him. Now, would I have gotten the meeting with that CEO if I'd cold called?

John: Almost definitely not I'd say.

Joanne: Definitely not, no way at all. A 30-minute meeting, and it was remarkable - I learnt so much that I never would have.

John: Right. It sounds like researching for your book, was it?

Joanne: Yes, that's right, exactly.

John: I think I'm getting the concept of what you're talking about. In my mind cold calling is dead, and you're saying warm approaches are dead too. You really have one choice if you want to drive a significant change in your business, and that is the referral.

Joanne: Absolutely, John.

John: And the thing that you made really evident in my mind is you're talking about a referral to somebody from somebody that know each other really well. You don't want a referral from somebody to somebody where they don't know them well, it's going to be meaningless.

Joanne: It is meaningless, and a lot of people try to get in, and I've seen this and it really frosts me because I think it's duplicitous, they will leave a message for somebody junior, and then they will call that person's boss and say, "I just contacted so-and-so and she said I should talk to you." That happens a lot.

John: Yes, and to me that's a manipulative approach and you won't get any credit for doing it. In fact, they'll look at you as somebody... The lack of trust will grow.

Warm Call 04Joanne: That's right, and we have to earn trust, that doesn't just happen. We earn it with a referral introduction, and that's how business decisions are made. In fact, I have a meeting shortly and I know the head of sales, and he loves referral selling, he's bought into it, he has the proposal all ready to go, and then he said to me, "We need to schedule launch with our CEO, because he has to meet the person and know that he can trust the person before we do business."

John: That's the old adage in sales that we do business with people we like, know and trust, and I don't think that will ever change, despite all the artificial intelligence and everything else that's happening, robotics and so on. Let's have a discussion in the future about how the sales role is changing, whether it will become obsolete, there's a lot of discussion about that. But the reality in my mind, particularly the business-to-business where there's some complexity in the decision process and so on, we as salespeople have got a lot of value to bring, and it's through the referral that we start that building trust approach.

Joanne: Absolutely.

John: I'm talking too much - let's summarise this discussion.

Joanne: There's no such thing as a warm call, you're either making a cold call, the person doesn't know you, doesn't expect to hear from you, or it's hot, you get the referral introduction.

John: And based on one of our earlier discussions, 95% of companies have not got a systemised approach to doing referral selling, and the metrics show that if they did they'd get enormous results. So forget that cold call, forget the warm calling - let's focus on referral selling is what you're saying.

Joanne: Yes.

John: Look forward to further discussions - thanks, Joanne!

Joanne: Thank you, John!


I invite you to view my previous discussions with Joanne Black: 



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