Commentary by Tom Columbia

Cold Calls - Chapter One

A Thought Provoking-Cold Call Requires Preparation.


Face-to-face cold calling is the process of introducing yourself to someone that is not familiar with you or what it is that you do. This is not a substitute for telemarketing calls to ask for sharpening services, but an alternative method to building your account base. Getting basic information about a prospect from mutual acquaintances or by researching social media prior to trying a first-time cold call will refine the questions that will be of consequence to the buyer. Generic questions without any relevance to the prospect will easily expose a lack of preparation, appears uncertain, and do overs usually are more difficult.

Finding potential buyers with a need for your product and are willing to devote their valuable time discussing it usually requires an appointment. Chasing a quick sale versus developing a customer are opposite mindsets, yet with both methods the buyer expects the same level of commitment from you. One approach evolves into a long-term business relationship, the other leaving the impression of a onetime transaction of convenience.


Setting an achievable goal before every visit allows you to gauge your level of success. For instance, if your goal is to close a sale as the only acceptable choice, as this can happen with good sales abilities or just being in the right place at the perfect time. Cold calls are unpredictable, so being ready to move from your introduction to closing a sale on the first visit is why you prepare. More realistically your goal might be to discover the process that the salon manages new vendor appointments, getting the decision makers name, contact information, or their work schedule.

Predicting that not closing a sale on every presentation as a failure diminishes what was actually an enormous success. Getting information is the first step in becoming a confident cold caller and is likely to require a series of visits. The preponderance of salespeople gives up on a cold call with fewer than four attempts, when success could be forthcoming on the next visit. Keep in mind that salons are over-whelmed with solicitors from every conceivable sort of business, distinguish yourself by preparing a thought-provoking introduction.

A business story is equivalent to writing your profile for an online dating service, you have to choose your words wisely since there intent is to stimulate curiosity. When the words are appealing, there is an opening to continue the discussion. In the real world if you make a mess of an introduction, it disintegrates when there is a realization that no mutual benefit exists. This is the fundamental nature of a sales cold call, it is imperative to say who you are, what unique qualities you offer, and how the buyer benefits.

Since you are an unfamiliar person in the salon it makes sense that your appearance and mannerisms be natural for this setting. When your instincts tell you that the timing is off pay attention, but do not mistake an instinctive sense as being anxious. Control the paradigm by entering the salon without displaying any literature or product as they are a distraction. Making use of props prematurely can easily develop into you abandoning your single sales goal of getting information that leads to a decision maker and a qualified buyer. As important as product is, it has no significance while getting information during a cold call. This is a positive first step as you want to be accepted as someone that comfortably fits in, ready to make a purchase, or set up an appointment. This is your moment because the receptionist instinctively wants to help you and it is essential that you merge with their optimistic obligation.

Your product knowledge is confidently secure in your mind, and you are comfortable discussing what you know. The excitement with your brand of scissors is obvious and you want to share everything about them. Stop! Everyone wants to look at new scissors but are there any qualified buyers present. The product should not become the theme in any sales meeting until you have found that there are buyers seeking a solution that you can resolve

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I have written a brief example of a cold call that I have used with success. There are parallels with every introduction that revolve around the concept of your business model, having uniformity allows you to focus on the goal and is not memorizing a script. When cold calling, I used my business model to project the vision of a Full-Service Scissors Business that serviced what we sold and the customers that bought our products, soliciting sharpening services was not the primary goal. Keep in mind our gross sales were 80% scissor sales and 20% sharpening service.

Prospect: Can I help you?

Me: Yes! Good morning, my name is Tom Columbia, from Integrity Beauty Supply, we are a Full-Service Scissors Business and are currently developing new scissor accounts. Would you be willing to help me out?

Prospect:  Help you, how? I am not sure what it is that you are asking

Me: I would like to meet with the person that approves a prospective new vendor or arrange an appointment with them. If you can help me with that it would be extremely beneficial.

Prospect: Tell me again what is it that you do?

Me: Integrity Beauty Supply is a Full-Service Scissors Business, we provide scissor sales with service, we offer scissors education and consultations for individual stylist or the entire staff. Who oversees choosing a specialized vendor like us?

Prospect: We do have a scissors person already, so we are all set.

Me: Of course, having a responsible scissors support program is critical. So, tell me, are you saying you are the person that makes these decisions?

Prospect: Yes, I am.

Me: That pleases me because I would be excited to share with you how a Full-Service Scissor Business could have a positive impact with your entire staff.

Prospect: Impact the staff? How?

Me: Great questions. Sharpening a scissors blade is one aspect of what makes them cut hair, we take that service to the next level. Our program encourages stylist to persistently follow Basic Career Disciplines (Correct Tension, Proper Edge, Upper Hand Control) so they experience a better functioning scissor every day.

Prospect: I am sure our stylists understand this discipline already.

Me: Yes, these principles are introduced early in their initial training, yet not always with the proper emphasis on the critical role they play in their workday productivity.

Prospect: What does this have to do with productivity?

Me: The best example is when scissors have unexplained malfunctions and then it goes unresolved, this effects proficiency and quality of cutting techniques. These issues can easily be diagnosed as the scissors requiring another sharpening or a poor-quality scissor, when the solution could be much simpler, and the real solutions are not always easy for the stylist to solve.

Prospect: If the scissor is not cutting properly, does not sharpening them fix it?

Me: Yes, if the issue is from the blade being dull. However, what is the remedy once the blade is sharp, and the problem persist? Basic Career Disciplines can be overlooked when the stylist works a busy schedule.

Prospect: Are you saying that talking about disciplines makes a difference with cutting hair? It cannot be that simple!

Me: It is that simple, and stylist respond positively because it makes a noticeable and immediate difference. We reinforce the details that are unintentionally neglected, emphasize their importance, and our suggestions will make their workday easier. Stylists enjoy being reintroduced to Basic Career Disciplines because it extends the service life of a scissor’s sharpness, it enhances existing cutting techniques, and improves individuals managing repetitive stress issues that are scissor related.

Prospect: Interesting. But we have a very experienced staff and a couple of new stylists too; how would you address that?

Me: You have eleven stylists, and I am confident that this method will encourage technical growth with the new stylist and confirm the capable scissor handling of your most experienced staff. In fact, the stylists that are the most productive are especially receptive as it reinforces their knowledge.

Prospect: Have you done this with other salons?

Me: Yes, I would love the opportunity to demonstrate this method for you as well. Choose any stylist, they can use their favorite scissors so they will be comfortable, and I am available right now. Another option is to schedule an appointment that would be most convenient for both you and the stylist, actually I could provide a short program for the entire staff.

Prospect: I find this intriguing. We have had issues with a few of the stylist’s scissors, if it does not take long, I will see if any of those stylists are available.

Me: Thank you. This is exciting, let’s do this! (This introduction took about 60 seconds)

My goal during this cold call example is to discover the decision maker, then deliver my story that I believe will create an opportunity that distinguishes a difference between my business model and any competitor. It was a mutual exploration to learn if there was a likelihood of a match up to their salon and my business model. In addition, I wanted to stay away from discussing specific product brands or debate price by bringing up a topic that would be an open challenge to a scissors cutting performance and its impact with productivity. The offer to at once back up my claims with a demonstration has a strong curiosity factor and usually brings out their best stylist and other spectators. This is a fun way to start a discussion about scissors, not product or price, talking scissor talk and combining the undisputed Basic Career Disciplines with stylist’s that have a desire to create the perfect haircut.

All my earlier articles elaborating about tension settings, handles, edges, blades, upper hand control, thumb pressure, and finger ring inserts are topics that come up in these demonstrations. Scissor questions from individual stylist will arise and this becomes their opportunity to explore workable solutions and they will ask if you brought scissors with you. Product is now the topic, the process of recognizing authentic buyers becomes the priority so that the genuine sales do not fade away. Randomly doling out scissors or allowing stylist to remove them from the display without a defined purpose creates chaos. To encourage an orderly involvement of the stylist, clarify in advance how the program works so that everyone can participate.

My next article will delve into the method which I used to distinguish the actual buyers in the room versus the casual spectators. There are three types of questions that easily reveal the most serious buyers. It is effective when exploring options during one-on-one presentations and most helpful when there are multiple presumed buyers all wanting attention. The purpose is to recognize the actual buyers, and respectfully control any interference from the spectators.