As you make cold calls (whether by phone or in person), on these initial prospecting sweeps for leads and information, your tone should be that of a conversation, not an interrogation. Be friendly. Don't put them on the spot with a barrage of questions.
If someone you meet during these calls is reluctant to talk, it could be that they are only a temporary employee and doesn't want to admit it. Or it may be that they don't want to give away too much information without knowing why you're there, and what you're going to do with this information
To overcome this,
put yourself clearly in context without getting into much detail. After all, you don't want to be drawn into making your sales call to this person who can only say No, but not Yes. Here are some ways of setting context:
■ You could say that you have an innovative product that you think may be able to help this firm, but need to get some preliminary information to determine whether to ask the Decision Maker for some time.
■ Or, you could mention that you are planning a "VIP Seminar" or exhibition. You want to send an invitation to the DM in this organization, but need to make sure that their attendance would be appropriate.
The content in this post has been adapted from my books, How to Sell Face to Face: Survival Guide, and Selling 101. They are available in various e-book and paper editions; see below:
Survival Guide: Order paperback edition via Amazon
Survival Guide: Order e-book as Amazon Kindle (Amazon offers free apps that enable you to read it on your PC, Apple I-pad, I-pod, Blackberry, and others)
Survival Guide: Order e-book via Kobo, usable on various kinds of e-readers
Selling 101 (third edition): Order e-book as Amazon Kindle (Amazon offers free apps that enable you to read it on your PC, Apple I-pad, I-pod, Blackberry, and others)
Order as e-book via Smashwords, available in various formats including PDF, E-pub, and others.