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There are right and wrong ways to go about marketing, and the pitfalls are many. A lot can be learned by seeing how not to manage your marketing. This original blog series weaves together an entertaining story that will help you navigate 21st-Century marketing with a view from “the dark side,” as “Screwtape” teaches his apprentice “Wormwood” via email how to sabotage your marketing. Enjoy…

To: Wormwood
From: Screwtape
Subject: Freezing Out the Cold Call

My dear Wormwood,

Let us explore sales a moment in this missive, shall we? As you well know, Wormwood, most businesses cannot survive without sales. And while many of the “old school” sales techniques of the past are not as effective in the digital age, some still apply. Herein lies opportunity for you to sow dissonance and contradiction into the Patient’s sales plan.

Let’s focus in on the concept of the “cold call.” We have two opportunities here:

  • Convince the Patient that cold calling is dead.
  • If that does not succeed, inspire the Patient to make the cold call truly “cold.”

The truth is that cold calling is not dead; it has merely evolved. That is to say, that the concept of pursuing prospects you’ve not yet had contact with can still be effective, and even necessary, for many businesses.

The best way to freeze out cold calling is to put a stereotype of into the Patient’s mind. Evoke unwanted phone calls, SPAM emails and other annoying disruptive techniques. I call these the “wolf whistles” of the sales world. You see, it’s perfectly acceptable for a young man to take interest in a “beautiful stranger,” but approach is everything! A genuine and friendly introduction will be received much differently than a wolf whistle or a cheesy pickup line.

See where I’m going with this? If you can convince the Patient that cold calling means being “salesy” and intrusive, he of course is going to shy away from such an approach. Our goal is to get the Patient to dismiss cold calling as he would a polyester suit and white wingtip shoes.

But should he realize that a genuine interest in the prospect and an offering of value can and will gain prospects, our cause is seriously threatened (as is your frail good favor, which I remind you can be lost). If the Patient has the annoying insight to realize that cold calling can be warmly done, then we are in real trouble (and by “we,” I mean “you”).

One small chance remains: Convince the Patient that cold calling only applies to the telephone, when in fact, email, social media and other media provide opportunities superior to simply going down a telephone number list.

Lock this is a vault, but the simplest way to do cold calling boils down to a few key tactics:

  • Define your value proposition for a particular audience.
  • Make a list of companies that would benefit from that value proposition. Be specific as to size of company, geography, any other demographic details that will narrow the list to the most promising prospects.
  • Prepare something of value to give to them. It may be a white paper, a free eBook, a free 30-day trial—there are many options.
  • Make the first contact about a genuine interest in their business—in THEIR story—NOT selling or expounding the virtues of your product. Offer that “something of value,” no strings attached. It’s acceptable toward the end to ask if you can contact them again. After all, the young Romeo may ask for a phone number if his interest is reciprocated.

More on this later, but to drive home my point, just go back up to these four points and simply add the words “do not.” Now are you getting the picture?  If the Patient annoyingly chooses to use cold calling, then assure he’s as annoying as possible to the prospect. Make sales a hunt based on numbers—that is, if I take enough shots at enough people, something is bound to hit. The alternative is to focus on quality of leads and genuineness of approach, and we don’t want that happening, now do we?

Your affectionate uncle,


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