One reason that most “cold” calls fail and result in rejection is that sales reps start their pitch the same way to everyone they speaking with, sounding like a talking junk mail piece.

A much better approach, one that stimulates interest, attention, and engagement, is to use personalized, customized information in your openings and voice mail, coupled with an on-target value statement.

How? First, there is an entire wealth of information online, found through search engines and social media sites. The other way is by simply talking to
people other than your decision maker. This is called “social engineering.”

The term “social engineering” has been most widely used to describe unscrupulous behavior, such as misrepresenting oneself and lying to manipulate someone to provide sensitive information. However, we use it positively and ethically to gather intelligence for our Smart Calls™.

It can be done
-As a separate call before your first call to your prospect; and,
-Every time you call your prospect.

I find this to be the most underutilized tool available to salespeople – and the one that has the greatest possible payoff. All it requires is that you take the time to do it, develop a sense of curiosity, and cultivate some conversational questioning techniques. Completing all of these steps may indeed grant you a revelation that many of us have had: people are willing to give you amazing amounts of quality information if you just ask them.

Kevin Mitnick was one of the most notorious computer hackers in the world; and at the time of his arrest in 1995, the most wanted computer criminal in US history. After his release from prison, he wrote the book entitled The Art of Deception in which he shares precisely how he pulled off many of his hacking jobs. Mitnick claims that he compromised computers solely by using passwords and codes that he gained by social engineering; in other words, simply talking to people. Now a speaker and security consultant to corporations, Mitnick points out that the weakest link in any security system is the person holding the information. You just need to ask for it.

The Social Engineering Process

Of course, we are using social engineering in the positive sense: asking for information from people that will help other people and the organization as a whole. The social engineering process for Smart Calling™ is as follows: upon reaching a live voice, you:

1. Identify yourself and your company: “Hi, I’m Jason Andrews with National Systems.” This immediately shows that you are not hiding anything.

2. Ask for help. “I hope you can help me out” or “I need some assistance.” Most people have an innate desire to be helpful to others in some way.

3. Use a Justification Statement. This is the key that will unlock the most useful information. Some examples are: “I want to be sure that I’m talking to the right person there…” “I’m going to be speaking with your VP of Sales, and want to be sure that I have accurate information…” “So that I’m better prepared when I talk to your CIO, I have a few questions you probably could answer…”

4. Ask questions. Of course you want to ask about the basic, factual material for which you might not have information yet. This depends both on what you sell, and the level of person with whom you’re speaking. In general, the higher up you go, the better the quality of information.
The theory behind the success of these Justification Statements I suggest is discussed by Dr. Robert Cialdini — widely considered as one of the foremost experts on persuasion and influence — in his classic book (which I believe should be in every serious salesperson’s library) entitled “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.” Cialdini cites an experiment conducted by Harvard social psychologist Ellen Langer where students let others cut in line in front of them at the copy machine simply because they provided a reason for their request—“because I’m in rush.”

Direct mail copywriters also employ this technique, often referring to it as the “Why” or the “Because.” For example, if a business is running a promotion, they know their response will increase if they give the reason for it. For example, “We need to make room for next year’s new models and are clearing out the warehouse, so we are dropping prices to move the current models.”

I recommend that you take the time to create your own Justification Statement — your “because” reason — and use it regularly.
Smart Calling™ Exercise

1. Prepare your own script for social engineering using the process above. Be sure you have a justification statement you are comfortable with.
2. Brainstorm for the questions you will ask at all levels of an organization, and write them out.

Use social engineering and you will make your prospecting calls much smarter, and successful.

Author's Bio: 

Art Sobczak works with thousands of sales reps each year helping them get more business by phone. His new book, “Smart Calling” shows salespeople how to eliminate the fear, failure and rejection from cold calling. To learn more about the book and get the free report, “The Top 10 Dumb Cold Calling Mistakes that Ensure Rejection” go to