The Number One Question You’ll Get When Cold Calling


There is one question you will get asked every single time you cold call.  

One question.  

Surprisingly enough, even though this question comes up so often, salespeople are still not ready for it.  Let me help you prepare.

The question is: “What Do You Do?” 

This could also be asked as, “What Does Your Company Do?”

This leads to the famous elevator pitch people allude to in sales.  Remember the idea that while prospecting you might run into that one special decision maker, inside of an elevator, and only have the moments of the elevator moving between floors to share with your value proposition on why they should meet with you.  

Sound familiar?  

Only problem with this fantasy scenario is it never happens this way.  In close to two decades, I have yet to see this happen to me or anyone in the field.  

However, this does happen when cold calling.  It happens in one situation. You get the decision maker to either pick up the phone and take your call or come out and see you on a face to face cold call.

When you get the decision maker, you start delivering your normal appointment setting script and the decision maker either waits for you to finish or decides to interrupt you and asks, “What Does Your Company Do?”  This is a queue to begin your elevator pitch. 

 If you fail to have a good response here, your opportunity will fizzle out.  You must be prepared for this.  Now there are right ways and wrong ways to do this.  

4 Problems with Most Sales Elevator Pitches


Let’s start with the problems with most elevator pitches out there.

Problem #1: This question is wrongly viewed as an objection.

You know the symptoms that follow: body temperature starts to rise, sweat coming down, heart beat rising, stuttering, nervousness.  The customer is just qualifying to see if they are the right person for you to be meeting with and then determining, for themselves, if they need your product or service. 

Problem #2: The response is about your product and not what it does for the client. ​

I give an example about Monte Blanc pens in the video above.  If that’s what you’re selling, you shouldn’t say, “I sell pens.”  You should say what those types of pens do for people.  

These are “high quality writing instruments that differentiate people.”  People buy these pens because of what it says about them, what they believe in, and their attention to detail in a sale. 

Problem #3: The salesperson doesn’t take back control of the interaction.

I see the sales person just respond back to the client and wait for them to respond again.  

This is never okay.  Are you waiting for the client to tell you why they don’t want to meet?  

Keep control of the interaction by always going back to setting the appointment.  You ever hear the term, always be closing?  This is what it’s referring to.

Problem #4: The sales person isn’t ready for the objection that will come next. ​

A few things could happen after you respond with your elevator pitch.  The client could say they are the wrong person.  The client could give you an objection.  The client could agree to meet.  

Are you ready for the objection?  

This is your profession!  This is where you earn your money.  

Be fearless and be ready for the BIG 4 objections.

Now that we’ve outlined the problems with most elevator pitches out there, let’s talk about what you need to do to create a great one!

3 Tips To Craft An Effective Elevator Pitch


Tip #1: Keep it relevant and clear about what's in it for them

Identify the challenges or problems your product or services solve for a client so you can hone your message to be about what’s in it for them

Here’s where we earn our salesperson stripes.  We need to share why our product or service is a must have for a client.  If we say that we sell “pens,” does that sound exciting?  

No, it doesn’t.  

In fact, the client is probably thinking that they already “have” pens and don’t have a need for them.  Now if we “sell” here, we think about how our product/service could really benefit them.  

In many cases we are teaching the client about how a product could be more of just a product.  We are showing them how it could be the solution that they weren’t aware of.  

Going back to the example of selling “high quality writing instruments that separate yourself from everyone else out there,” that an example of selling and it’s intriguing for the client!

Tip #2: Make a short and simple “high level” response.

Don’t start with a long-winded elevator pitch that lasts 30 seconds.  Start with one that lasts 3 seconds.  You never know how much information is enough for the client to agree to meet with you.  

Be careful about giving too much information up front or the client might not feel like they even need to meet with you.  

The example of, I sell “high quality writing instruments that separate yourself from everyone else out there,” is a good start and obviously must be followed by your close for the appointment.  

The client may as for more information here, and if they do provide the more in-depth example. 

Tip #3: Make a more in-depth elevator pitch that uses an example in case they ask for more information.

For this part I recommend elaborating on your example from your main appointment setting message to the client.  

It should start with, “Sure, I could elaborate, no problem.  With XYZ Company, we ..,” and then provide an example of how you helped them with the challenge in Tip #1 above.  If you’re in person, you should be prepared to do this without any notes so practice practice practice.

Summary of How To Prepare For The One Question You'll Be Asked When Cold Calling

Being ready for this one question should be as routine as your daily hygiene.  Expect it to be asked and when it happens, knock it out of the park and turn that customer into a prospect for your business.  

Remember to follow these 3 tips:

  1. Keep it relevant about what’s in it for your customer
  2. Make it short, simple, and high level
  3. Be prepared to give a more in depth example if needed

Learn more techniques on how to dominate your prospecting efforts inside of our Modern Sales Academy.

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