Should You Always Talk to the Decision Maker When Cold Calling?

In most sales cycles, speaking with the decision maker becomes crucial, typically in later stages.

However, at the beginning of the sales cycle, it’s often unnecessary to speak directly with them to be effective. In fact, it’s my belief that in most situations it is not critical to speak with the decision maker to be productive with your work.

Here’s why:

  • 1st – The sales cycle may never start for a particular prospect if it is dependent upon speaking with the key decision maker. In looking at the hierarchy of people involved in the evaluation of a purchase decision, there is no secret that the decision maker will probably be the most challenging to get on a phone call.
  • 2nd – The decision maker might be removed enough from day-to-day activities that they might not be aware of issues or concerns with the current product or service that you are selling. If they are aware, it might not yet be high enough of a priority as it is to the decision influencers. If you get the interest started with the influencers, they can indirectly help you advance through the sales cycle.

If you have setup your teleprospecting game plan correctly, there is a good chance that you are both targeting a very specific business segment and this is the first time you are cold calling into this segment.

In typical selling scenarios, securing a deal with a single call is uncommon. Based on this fact, accept that there is a process that you will take that leads you to earning business. In the initial stages, take the opportunity to learn about the company, learn what current system they have in place, learn satisfaction levels, learn future timing for change and importantly, learn about the person(s) you speak with throughout this journey.

If you stay in touch, and cultivate the opportunity, at some point in the future you should have earned your way to speak with the decision maker. However, to get to this point you do not necessarily need to speak to a decision maker – decision influencers can be your best friend.

In summary, take what you can get while making your prospecting cold calls, capture this information and build upon it. Remain committed and consistent with making your cold calls. Never forget that selling is a game of numbers. The more work, the more you are persistent, the more you will earn the right to speak with decision makers, and when this happens, you will be properly prepared to earn their business.

The Power of Effective Teleprospecting in B2B Sales

While having a review call with the Sales Manager of a  Fortune 100 client this week, I was humbled by his overall feedback of how Dunlap Marketing is moving the needle forward for his team.

The main reason for our call was to review recent appointments that Dunlap Marketing had produced for the sales team.  After reviewing the sequence of events on a particular prospect, the Sales Manager told me how happy his team was with Dunlap Marketing. I thanked him and then asked why the team felt this way.

He went on to share with me that the teleprospecting services Dunlap Marketing has provided them over the last 8 years has been top notch.  He reminded me that we are not perfect, but we are great.  My ears were burning, I had to know more, so I asked him to explain. Here’s a summary of what he said:

  • 1st – Your quality control process is gutsy, but you seem to filter out events that are probably not yet ready for the sales team to go after – this keeps from wasting the time of my team
  • 2nd – You stand behind your services and you are always available to brainstorm and discuss challenging situations
  • 3rd – You know how to identify the best type of companies that need our services
  • 4th – Your team understands what we do and is therefore better at properly qualifying opportunities prior to scheduling meetings
  • 5th – We receive close to real time delivery and your team provides a detailed explanation of the reason for the meeting
  • 6th – Prospects almost always accept our calendar invitations and they attend the scheduled meeting
  • 7th (and possibly my favorite) – There have been plenty of times that you have scheduled an appointment with companies that we have been struggling to get into, this leading to a quote from one of his sales team members:

“…….after your team set meetings with both companies, I was able to close them.  Both are now platinum accounts.  I had been following up with these companies but was unable to get an appointment.  I am sharing this because I want Dunlap Marketing to get proper credit.”

Regional Sales Manager, 8-year-client

My take away from the conversation – telephone based cold calling is still effective and complements other methods of advertising.  It stands unique because it is a human-to-human conversation and it often penetrates a segment of prospects that do not always participate in other mediums.

For more information on ways to get your own prospecting campaign up and running, read THIS article, 7 Steps to Implementing a Smart Calling Program

Contact Mike Dunlap,, with questions and inquiries. 

Does telephone-call-based appointment setting still work?

This is a question I hear more and more frequently. 

The quick answer? Yes. 

The long answer? Yes, but let’s talk about it. 

First, if you agree that not every business person responds to only one prospecting method, then I suggest effective B2B prospecting includes the use of multiple prospecting methods, such as:

  • Social media (Linked In, Instagram, Facebook, etc.)
  • Traditional advertising (print, radio, TV, etc.)
  • Website – website optimization
  • Paid placement ads
  • Telephone calls
  • Emails

If your style is to focus only on select methods, there is a chance you are missing out on reaching decision makers that do not utilize the methods you choose to use. For example, if your primary approach is to sell business through social media tools, it’s likely that your message will not connect with a decision maker who does not use social media platforms.  

What should be expected is if you use social media, your message will be delivered to people who also use that platform.  On the flip side, it is not reasonable to expect your message to jump across different marketing methods to reach a broader range of decision maker who might not be connected to various marketing methods.

A second point –  I commonly speak with companies who are interested in hiring Dunlap Marketing. It’s also common for our first conversation to start with the representative sharing their opinion that they don’t think telephone based cold calling does not work.  I always find this interesting as they initiated the call to me.

I have learned over the last 28 years of running my company that what they are actually trying to share with me is the fact that they DO NOT LIKE making prospecting phone calls themselves, or they DO NOT TAKE these types of calls when they come to them.  I then respond by asking, “in your opinion, does cold calling not work simply because you do not like making or taking phone calls?”

Telephone call prospecting (telemarketing) works and it is very effective at reaching and talking with prospects, but it does not reach every prospect.  It is a great way, and a unique way to have a two-way conversation with a prospect.  

Ask yourself, how many outbound prospecting methods allow a human-to-human two-way conversation? It is a great way to maximize your investment or efforts when using other marketing methods.  Phone calls allow you to advance your sales process even when you are unable to speak with the right person.  Examples:

  • 1st – you can gather intelligence from influencers or others who are informed of current status
  • 2nd – you can leave a voicemail message which allows you to keep your name front of mind with the right person

Both are positive outcomes.

Keep in mind, phone calls require a degree of tactful persistence and patience.  You have to stay with it if you want results.  In this high-tech world that we live in, evidence shows that targeted teleprospecting generates successful new business transactions.  

For more information, contact Mike Dunlap:


Phone: (281) 496-9870 x140

Implementing Multiple Call Attempts when Prospecting

(And Our Favorite Dating Analogy)

How many dates do you go on before you get married? I would be willing to bet that 97% of the time, it takes more than just a few.  We asked this question in an article written in 2015. It’s interesting because now more than ever, I am confident that the strategy of multiple call attempts (or multiple “dates”) works better than ever when making prospecting calls and ultimately, closing sales (or “getting married”).

Prospecting And Dating

The art of selling is a lot like dating, courtship, and ultimately marriage. It takes patience, persistence, and respect.  It takes time. 

  • Patience – Be ready and willing to stay in touch with a target prospect until it becomes time for them to enter into the buying process
  • Persistence – Be tactful and consistent with follow-up, leave voice mail messages if your call is not answered, send emails, and make more follow-up calls, all with the intent of staying at the front of your prospect’s mind when the time comes and they are ready for a conversation
  • Respect – Time, space, and money are all things that people hold closely; respecting these three things is critical for any relationship to thrive.  Be present and available, make sure your prospects know your intentions, but don’t overdo it to the point you drive them away from you

The Numbers

Many sales experts believe three percent of sales are made on the second contact, ten percent are made on the fourth contact, and eighty percent are made on the fifth or beyond contact. Note, these numbers may not be exact, but we believe they accurately reflect typical sales behavior.

In the business-to-business prospecting campaigns that Dunlap Marketing does, it is very common for us to make at least eight call attempts* before we start feeling the early indications of list saturation. The fact is, being tactfully persistent is required if you want to speak with the people who make decisions. 

*As a footnote, in this example, list saturation does not suggest you are completely finished calling on a target list of prospects after eight tries. It simply suggests that you let the list rest for a period of time, then start working it again.  After you let the list rest, be smart about how you apply the “respect” content mentioned above.

Only ten percent of salespeople make more than three contacts. 

Forty-eight percent of salespeople never follow up with a prospect.

Again, these numbers are believed by many respected business leaders and I believe they reflect common salespeople behaviors.

Sticking With It

In Dunlap Marketing’s B2B prospecting experience, we have learned that just because someone is not easy to connect with, does not mean they are uninterested in what we’re calling about.  The game of numbers works well in our favor if we call enough records enough times over a duration of time.  When we stay on plan, we will accomplish our goals without wearing out our welcome. So, how many dates should a couple go on before getting married? Two? Four? Twelve? One hundred? You tell me!  As a father of three daughters, I will take the higher number of options.