Two gentleman representing a major and well known insurance company stopped by to sell me their product today. Problem is...from the get go, they didn't stand a chance. They didn't bother making an appointment. They weren't forthcoming about what they wanted. They asked me for fifteen minutes of my time. And, when I said how about now, they said they couldn't. When I asked them for a business card, they didn't have one (I had to write their contact info on my own notepad...I'm guessing they didn't have one of those either). This was a clear example of a salesperson making a call just so they could say they did it, so they could complete their weekly call sheet to prove they did some work. They had no expectation to really get in the door. And, when they did, they weren't even slightly prepared.
The whole process was about them...and not at all about me. They hadn't taken the time to learn anything about me or my company, hadn't asked for permission to make a pitch...heck, they didn't even have a good reason to make a pitch. They were so busy trying to make the sale, they forgot the most important thing...to invest time to make a friend, to earn trust...to develop a meaningful relationship.
My guess is that this sort of failure starts with a company which is focused on the wrong things...a company which measures interruptive activity instead of relationships.
Stop worrying about the number of calls and e-mail lists you can generate and spend more time on what you can do to improve your value to each person on those lists. What are you doing to help move their organization forward? Can you help them achieve objectives that don't benefit you directly? Imagine my reaction if two insurance salesmen made an appointment to discuss ideas about solving my staffing problems, or how to get an insurance meeting held at the hotel next year. Imagine if they cared enough to ask whether or not I had any interest in a new insurance product?
Cold calls don't work because they put people on the defensive...they're insensitive, interruptive and presumptive....not exactly a formula for making friends.