My experiment in cold calling has now commenced. I figured I’d start with the hardest, it’s a bit like choosing to tackle the biggest guy on the opposing team first – after that they’ll all be easier (or you’re so trashed by the experience that you spend the rest of the game on the bench – or stretcher). Anyway, I chose to try and get to IBM’s Victorian Sales Managers’ PA.
I will grant you that IBM’s customers never cold call – and folk selling to them don’t do that either (hence my decision to try) but they do have large offices which clients visit and which also house many bright IBMers who are trying their best to make the world a better place – and to grow the IBM business. The former, clients (and partners) are met by a receptionist (the ‘Director of First Impressions’ as we called our brilliant receptionist when I worked at Motorola). The receptionist I met on my cold call was Melissa (I asked) and she was very courteous – but entirely unable to help me in my quest to talk with the Sales Manager’s PA. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to – it was simply that without a name she couldn’t even begin to search, such are the processes in place. Melissa kindly offered me the email address of the folk that “deal with sales” (firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested) and further proffered a phone number (132426) and opined that, as far as she knew, sales are dealt with from St Leonards in NSW.
Now, when it comes to all of those bright IBMers striving to make the world a better place, etc. – how does one get to them with an idea that might really help them achieve that goal? The receptionist can’t help (even if she wants to). Of course, it could be that IBM don’t need any help – with anything – they are after all a very old, very large and very capable company who have invented much of what we rely on these days, at least in terms of IT. However, they got that way by being open-minded, open to new ideas and able move on them quickly (or quickly for a company of their size). I would suggest that their defensive processes might now be too good! Instead of being the ‘Director of first impressions’ the receptionist is largely a ‘human firewall’. Of course, this suggests that external sales folk just became too pesky with their cold calling, causing too much interruption to the smooth flow of work being done by the staff the firewall is in place to protect.
Still, I shouldn’t base my views on a single experiment. On to the next few cold calls!