Monday, August 16, 2010

Schiffman's Cold Calling Techniques 1987

With all the books published on selling, there's a few out there that withstand the test of time.  Some are conceptual books, others give creative suggestions.  Some use interesting analogies with magical characters teaching lessons about business and management.  Many of the top CEO's have written books on their experiences dealing with leadership and big-picture topics.  While all of these books are great reads, very few really come down to blocking and tackling in the sales trenches.  Stephen Schiffman's 1987 classic:  Cold Calling Techniques (that really work) is a gem.

I've been recommending this book to just about every salesperson I've worked with over the past 15 years.  Sometimes the reps actually get the book, fewer actually read it.  Even fewer still really take the lessons to heart.  I used to get 10-20 copies and just keep them in my office, giving them away to salespeople over time.  I've read the book a few times over my sales career, with certain chapters always standing out.

Last week, I saw a copy at my local bookstore and added it to the stack I eventually check out with.  Last night I re-read this very short (1.5 hour read) beauty.  For some reason, this time the words seem to glow off the page.  I kept asking myself, "Why don't more salespeople take this stuff to heart?"  Here's a guy who has sold over 1M copies of the book and performed over 10,000 seminars on the topics with proven, repeatable results.  His message is clear and resounding:  there is nothing more important in any salespersons career than keeping their funnel full of fresh prospects.  You can't make the sale without getting that first appointment, and even today (with the internet, email, instant messages and social networking), there is no better way than picking up the phone to speak to a potential prospect.

I can't say enough positive things about the book.  It's not fluff.  Every chapter gives rock solid advice.  From getting past the mental challenges of cold calling, to finding prospects, to the most compelling process for cold calling ever developed.  Sure, there's a few things that I bet Schiffman would change if he were updating the book today, but these are minor cultural issues that can easily be "read through."  Don't let the book's copyright date throw you off.  There's a reason the book was sitting there on the shelf at my local Los Angeles book store.  People know the truth when they see it.

There's fantastic chapters on overcoming common objections and a creative method called "The Ledge" that is without-a-doubt, THE best way of dealing with tough calls.  Schiffman creates a mathematical argument for how critical this part of the sales process is.

I challenge any salesperson with the following task:  Not only read the damn book, but follow it strictly for 90 days.  If you don't have significantly more appointments, more prospects and (eventually) more sales, go find another job!


  1. Thanks for the "heads up" on this book. I've seen discussions that "cold calls are dead" and my guess is most people feel that way because they have little or no success with cold calling. Because their communications suck. Rather than shun something vital, salespeople need to get better at it and find better ways to do it. Look forward to reading it.

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