What is business etiquette about cold calling and how often to follow up with business owners if they do not give you a time? How should you toe the line between checking in and being annoying?

Answer: Cold calling can involve phone calls to set appointments or cold call visits to prospects to have a sales meeting or set an appointment for a return visit. Also, in many industries it is common to send letters of introduction, brochures, catalogs, or other marketing materials before calling to set appointments or making direct sales calls. However, if the goal of a cold call is to set an appointment for a sales presentation, then you should ask the prospect for an appointment during the call.  If you are unable to set an appointment on the initial call, then you should try to get the prospect’s commitment for a follow-up phone or in-person call by asking for and establishing a specific date and time for the follow-up call. On this follow-up call you can ask again for an appointment or review any info sent to the prospect in response to the initial call. With an indecisive prospect, this technique avoids the uncertainty of knowing when to make a follow-up call and helps qualify the prospect.

As for follow-up timeframes, they can vary depending on the particular products or services being sold, the typical sales cycle and other factors. Thus, there is no standard timeframe for following up with indecisive prospects in every situation. In many cases, it takes multiple calls before closing the sale, so persistence is necessary without being perceived as too aggressive or pushy. The following are example discussions on follow-up call techniques:

As to cold calling in general, the best method and message varies by situation due to the different selling circumstances; however, there are many good resources for developing effective cold calling techniques. The most important elements to successful cold calling will be to understand the services and products, belief and confidence in the benefits of the products and services, having a good sales message(s), and reaching the right person. You can review books, suggestions, and other materials on cold calling best practices, techniques and tips at the following websites:

Chris Barnes is the Director of Business Development at Tarkenton Companies, with a sales and marketing background in a wide range of industries, from sports information to insurance marketing. A jack-of-all-trades, Chris has experience in many aspects of daily and strategic operations for small business.