In the past cold calling was very popular for B2B sales. Then, as the Internet and social media became popular sales and marketing channels, cold calling greatly declined. Today many pundits consider cold calling archaic, ineffective, intrusive, and downright offensive. But does cold calling deserve all the negativity it is receiving? Is it really dead? Is it ineffective?
For starters, cold calling is the process of contacting prospective clients via telephone without their permission or invitation in the hope that the prospective client will accept your call and listen to your sales pitch. At this state, the sales pitch is normally just a request to schedule an in-person appointment or a conference call or webinar. While some business people consider cold calling dead, it is still being used quite successfully by many B2B sales professionals.
Michael Hannon, the author of "7 Simple Habits of Extraordinary Salespeople", says that cold calling will always be an effective means to sell B2B products and services. However, he says that the world has taken on the attitude in sales and marketing channels that "it can’t be effective if it is not digital" without understanding the huge benefits of cold calling.
According to Jessica Magoch, a B2B marketing expert, cold calling is extremely effective when it is done correctly: that is, if it is done in a non-robotic, personalized, and friendly way.
Some B2B marketing experts are of the opinion that rather than dying, cold calling only stopped being used as the first step in the sales process, and it is now being used as step two. In the past, salespeople focused on getting phone numbers for prospects, and then they would make cold calls to those prospects until the prospects either agreed to meet for an in-person appointment or told the sales person to stop calling them.
Today, in sales it is best to start the sales process by sending a cold email to a prospect requesting an opportunity to talk to them on the phone. When a lead is interested, he will reply to the email and provide a time he prefers to receive the call. The salesperson will then make a call at the scheduled time. This way, the lead will be more responsive, attentive, and courteous since he gave you permission to call him.
This tactic has the aspect of being a top down approach where the salesperson sends the cold email to the major decision maker in the business, and this person will either reply to the cold email, redirect the salesperson to the relevant person who can assist, or simply delete the email. Here, the initial cold email serves as an ice breaker.
Mike Schultz in his research report, "6 Lead Generation Insights for 2007", writes that cold calling is second only to referrals as a lead generation tactic. Therefore, cold calling works exceedingly well in B2B sales when people do it properly, meaning, it has to be targeted and appropriate to the needs of the business.
- Create a targeted list of prospects before you embark on your cold calling campaign. It is best to profile the ideal prospects you intend to contact. You’ll need to understand the types of businesses that most need and will benefit most from your product or service. Research the prospect’s industry, location, and title of the decision maker. In B2B cold calls focus on calling the highest-level person who is most likely the decision maker. If she isn’t the decision maker, then she’ll at least be able to redirect you to the most relevant person.
- Answer the question of why should the prospect be interested in what you are selling? Your approach must be targeted to the business's needs. You have to know and understand the prospect’s challenges, history, current state, problems they solve for customers, and the problems you can solve for the prospect. Remember that prospects are busy and they’ll only listen to you if what you are telling them helps them solve a major business problem they need to solve now.
- Understand the objective of the call. Many salespeople think that the purpose of a cold call is to make a sale. That is wrong. A cold cold should only be used to schedule an in-person appointment or a future telephone conference call or webinar. The fact is that each sale goes through a full cycle, from introduction, gathering information, offering a business solution, and then making the sale. Sales trainer Grant Cardone says that the main purpose of the initial cold call is to open the stage for the remaining steps.
- You need to be great at using the phone - a "Jedi cold caller." Many salespeople annoy the prospect after a few seconds on the phone. To avoid this, be warm, friendly, flexible, and able to think quickly on your feet. On cold calls do not ask the lead to buy from you over the telephone or agree to replace his current vendor. Instead, focus on getting an in-person appointment or to schedule a webinar. That way, your prospect won’t feel pressure to buy anything and you won’t feel any pressure to make a sale. All you are trying to do is schedule a short in-person appointment or a webinar. Grant Cardone advises cold callers to always have a great attitude even if the prospects they call are dismissive, rude, or negative. A friendly positive attitude goes a long way for being successful at cold calling.
- Combine strategies. Use cold calling alongside other methods of creating a relationship with prospects such as cold emails and social media marketing. After sending out a cold email, track it to see if the prospect has opened the email or not using a sales tool known as Close.io, for example. Once the prospect opens the email, you may then follow up with a phone call.
It might seem difficult at first, but cold calling will actually be a breeze once you get the hang of it. The fear of cold calling is similar to the fear of public speaking, and just as you can defeat your fear of public speaking, you can also overcome your fear of talking a phone and calling prospects.
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