Anyone who has been in sales for any time at all is aware of the elephant in the room: cold calling. Salespeople have been taught for decades that cold calling is the savior of sales, but what if it isn’t? What if everything people know about cold calling is misleading and no longer true?
Speak with some of the leading sales experts in the business world and their view on this traditional prospecting method has evolved considerably.
Has Cold Calling Gone … Cold?
For decades, cold calling was the primary means of generating leads and driving sales. In fact, there was a time when it was the only method of efficient prospecting. The phone was the most efficient way to communicate over long distances and, therefore, became the go-to for corporations across all industries. But over the years, new technologies and methods of communication have emerged. And though they haven’t rendered cold calling useless, they have changed the way businesses approach prospecting and lead generation.
As this infographic shows, 90 percent of B2B decision makers don’t respond to cold sales calls. That number explains why just 1 percent of cold calls actually result in meetings. It’s simply not an attractive method when used in isolation.
“Cold calling can work, but it’s not the most effective means to get the best meetings,” explains Jeff Winters, CEO of Sapper Consulting. “The best strategy to get meetings is to use an integrated approach: phone calls, emails, LinkedIn, Twitter. An integrated approach gets the most meetings.”
For businesses that want to generate more leads, conversions, and sales, the objective should be to warm up leads as much as possible before trying to close. Thankfully, there are some effective methods and strategies that can be used to complement cold calling (rather than render it obsolete). Take a look:
1. Robust Content Strategy
It’s never ideal for a cold call to be the first interaction a brand has with a customer. If at all possible, there should be some exposure prior to the call – even if it’s indirect.
One of the best ways to increase organic exposure is to develop a robust content strategy that engages prospects in their online search experiences. This can be accomplished through blogging, guest blogging, and publishing.
2. Detailed Audience Research
One of the reasons that cold calling is so ineffective in isolation is that it fails to account for the dynamic nature of the prospects on the other end of the line. Each person is different and, thus, will respond to different mechanisms in unique ways. Some people will take cold calls, while others won’t. Some will respond to emails, while others would prefer to engage via social media. There’s so much diversity, even within individual audiences.
The best way to reach an audience is to understand who the audience is – on an individual basis – and tailor outreach strategies that keep these unique elements in mind.
“We use a combination of DiSC personality assessments and historical performance data to determine which tactics or messages will work best for which groups of buyers,” Winters explains. “For example, while one subset responds well to a brief, witty email focused on high-level vision, another may prefer a formal, in-depth approach filled with supporting data.”
3. Automated Drip Campaigns
Every business needs some sort of online lead capture strategy in place for gathering prospect information. Generally, this looks like setting up lead capture forms on websites and landing pages and offering something – typically free content – in return for a user’s email address.
Using the leads that are captured via a website or landing page, leads can then be slowly engaged for a few weeks or months with automated drip campaigns prior to a cold call happening. This ensures that the lead is semi-warm (or at least aware) once the cold call occurs.
Turning Cold Calling Warm
Modern businesses aren’t replacing cold calling. Instead, they’re finding ways to make cold calling a bit warmer by introducing complementary processes and techniques that give them a greater chance of generating meetings and closing sales. Think of it as an evolution towards a more natural sales funnel that prioritizes engagement and personalization. That’s the new direction of sales and business in general.