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How to Cold Call Old Leads

how to cold call old leads

How to Cold Call Old Leads

“I make cold calls to leads in our database. Many of these leads have been called in the past by other sales reps. The challenge I have is as soon as they hear my company name, they say: I get calls from you guys all the time. I’m not interested unless it’s cheaper than what I’m using now. We aren’t always cheaper, so what can I do?”

I’ve been in this situation before myself, working for a company that had about 100 inside sales reps and we all had to go through recycled leads. It wasn’t always fun and we would all rather call fresh leads but sometimes that just isn’t an option.

Here’s the good news: There is gold in those old leads but you will have to bring your “A-Game” to win them.


You, the salesperson actually have the advantage in this sales call situation, and here’s why…

You can expect this response from your prospect. Therefore, you can (and should) be prepared for it ahead of time. Your prospect on the other hand, most likely WON’T be prepared to handle YOUR REBUTTAL.

How to Cold Call Old Leads: Choosing the Right Sales Rebuttal

Most sales rebuttals cause prospects to defend their response; therefore prospects react the way most of us do when our thoughts/ideas/words are challenged… They dig their heels in. And that is a no-win situation. So instead of using a response that puts your prospect on the defense, let’s go the opposite route.

Here’s what I’ve found to work really well in this type of situation:

PROSPECT (AFTER YOUR OPENING STATEMENT): Listen let me stop you right there. I get calls from your company all the time. I AM ONLY LOOKING TO CHANGE IF IT IS CHEAPER.

SALESPERSON: Mr. Prospect I’m not calling to ask you to make a purchasing decision just yet. I’m calling because (competitors 1, 2, and 3) have said the reason they use us is (MAJOR HOT BUTTON) and I just wanted to ask you a few quick questions to see if what we have to offer may be of some help to you as well, would that be OK?

And just like that, you lowered their defenses and instead of trying to “CONTROL” them by asking a probing question, you’ve asked permission to continue with the call, but not before giving them a valid reason why they would want to.


OK… let’s keep playing…

PROSPECT: No, I’m not interested in changing what I have now, and I certainly don’t want to pay more for it!

SALESPERSON: Mr. Prospect you may be right to stick with your current solution. Then again, there’s a chance our solution could give you a competitive edge, just like we continue to do for (competitors 1, 2, and 3). I would need to ask you just a few questions first and if after that you decide it’s still a “NO”, you’ll never hear from me again, fair enough?

Now if you still get a “NO” guess what? You did your job. Move on. Your job description isn’t to close every lead you come across. Your job description is to close as many QUALIFIED leads as fast as possible. If after a sequence like that, the prospect still says “NO” you can move on to the next call without reservation or self-doubt.

But before you hang up…

The Plant-a-Seed Sales Play

One of my favorite ways to end a sales call that ended before I could get to first-base (first-base is being able to ask them qualifying questions) is to run the “plant-a-seed” play.

When I was working for duPontREGISTRY selling online advertising and lead generation to high-end luxury auto dealers, if a GM of a dealership rejected my first two opening value statements, I knew a 3rd attempt would almost always end with being hung up on. So instead, a ran what my sales manager at the time started calling the “plant-a-seed” play. It works like this:

(After 2nd attempt and the prospect still said no/not interested etc)

Me: “No problem Mr/Ms. Prospect. Just in case you ever “run into/start to have” (pain points 1, 2, and 3), I’ll email you my contact info as I may be able to help solve those issues quickly for you, just like I did for (competitors 1 and 2). Fair enough?

Prospect: “Um – yeah, ok, sure. That will be fine.”

Now, why is it called the “plant-a-seed” sales play? Because I can not tell you how many times I would come in the next day or week or month and the prospect called me back, left me a voicemail, and said “I was thinking about what you said…”

My sales manager often said, “Pedone, that poor guy probably couldn’t sleep all night, thinking about the problems you brought up”. And the “plant-a-seed” strategy was born.

This works because you are leaving an impression attached to a pain point or two that is relevant and necessary for the prospect to have in order to be interested in your solution. So, maybe, at the time you called, the timing wasn’t right. But you planted the seed and when a trigger event happens, and now one of those problems is an issue, you are the one they are calling, first.

– Michael Pedone

Founder of SalesBuzz.com; Online Sales Training and Certifications Programs that Engage, Measure, and Increase Sales Performance.

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