Cold calling a store is only one of the two different approaches in making a presentation to a buyer. You enter a store and ask to talk to the buyer without any pre-arranged appointment or notice. The other method is making an appointment ahead of time with the buyer. There are many advantages and disadvantages to using either method.
When cold-calling, you have the convenience of visiting a store when you arrive in town. You have the added benefit of talking face to face with a potential buyer where it is harder for them to tell you they are not interested. Lots of buyers also double as store clerks where their main priority is working with customers. Cold calling can still be effective if you have patience and don’t take offense as they interrupt you to help their customers. On the other hand, making appointments ahead of time will often mean you have your buyer’s full attention without disruptions during your presentation.
The down side of cold-calling is when you arrive the buyer may not be in the store, may not have the time to talk with you, or will not talk to you without an appointment. But, if you call buyers ahead of time, they often may not make an appointment with you if they don’t know you! And sometimes, even if they do know you, they will not make an appointment! It can be a vicious cycle with no easy solution! I have found that it is harder for a buyer to say no to you when you are face to face with them in their store.
Cold-calling the first time you visit a store to introduce yourself to the buyer, even if they don’t have time to talk to you at that time, is a very effective approach that worked well for me. This sales technique gives you time to find out that the buyer is, what their store is like and how you can best work with them in the future. Next time you plan a sales trip to their store and area, you will know that you need to make an appointment or follow whatever instructions you will given during you initial cold call with this store.
The main point is to use with the method that works best for your potential buyers. Some buyers will, under no circumstances, meet with you unless you call ahead for an appointment. Others are perfectly content to see you when you come in – assuming they are not overly busy at the time. Then there is a third group that will meet with you if you call ahead a leave a message as to the time or day you expect to be in their store. I have developed a good working relationship with several buyers who previously required an appointment by just using the ‘call ahead’ method. The requirement for an appointment is often a screening device or a pre-planning tactic, in these cases. Once you get to know your buyers, they will be more open to working with you. Just be considerate of their preferences, whichever method they prefer you to use when servicing their account.