RAB Insights

RAB Research Archive

I'm Just Stopping By...

RAB members ask some of the best questions! This week, Matt emailed asking about cold-calling and dropping in unannounced. He was looking for some tips and feedback on those very common practices in sales. Maybe the response to Matt will provide some help for you as well:

Hey Matt,

Thanks for your kind words. I’d love to share some thoughts on cold-calling and dropping in unannounced while in the area.

I’m not a fan of the term “cold-calling.” It sounds harsh; it implies that you are calling on someone you’ve never met, that you know very little about and that you are trying to get an appointment. That sounds like a recipe for disaster. You mentioned the words “dropping in” or “unannounced.” I think the words “dropping in” suggest to a client that we are just wandering around town looking for places to stop. The unannounced part is okay, but it’s more about your preparation for the call than whether you announced you were coming.

Business owners are busy. They don’t have time for people just dropping by. What they will make time for is people who are there for a specific reason, especially when that reason is to help them. At RAB, we call this a valid business reason. It’s something about the BUSINESS, not about you or your stations. For example, we just did a live presentation with J.D. Power & Associates about Automotive’s Road to Recovery.

One of the pieces of information that I pulled from that session is that dealers normally have a 30, 60, 90-day supply of new cars. Today, due to the virus affecting manufacturing, many dealers are on a 10-day turn. Meaning if a truck delivers new cars to their dealership, they are gone in 10 days. That’s driving prices up, that’s keeping inventory low and causing profits to be at record paces.

If you were to “drop by” a dealer armed with that information, instead of saying “I dropped by today because I was in the area,” you would say something like: “I stopped by today specifically because I just attended a presentation with J.D. Power and Associates, and they said that dealers are on a 10-day turn of new inventory. That must cause you some sleepless nights not knowing if you’ll have inventory to meet demand. How are you handling that?” As an RAB member, you might also consider sharing the presentation (slides) with the dealer and getting her feedback on the just-released research. Talk about being unique from everyone else calling on that client – that will set you apart. You still just “dropped in,” but you told the prospect you were stopping specifically because... and you had some new information that would be of value to them.

Words matter. The term “cold-calling” implies randomness and lack of preparation. The same with “dropping in while in the area.” Whether you have an appointment or not, or whether you’ve met them or not, we encourage that you have a valid business reason. Replace “I was in the area and I just stopped by” with, “I stopped in specifically today because...” Stopped in specifically means you were intentional, even though you didn’t have an appointment. It also means you must have a purpose and a plan for making the stop in the first place. Which, of course, means you had to do some preparation before making the stop.

Jeff Schmidt is SVP-Professional Development at the Radio Advertising Bureau. You can reach Jeff at Jeff.Schmidt@rab.com or follow him on social media: Twitter, LinkedIn.

Source: Jeff Schmidt, RAB