The word on the street is that “Cold calling’s dead!” But is it really dead? Maybe a second opinion is in order or an investigation even. If it were dead like the “experts” would have us believe, what remains of it, if anything at all? Or, has it transformed with the invention of new technologies? For a tool as powerful and influential as cold calling, “dead” seems like an unlikely fate. Let’s delve a little deeper than the confines of our mainstream belief and into the world of present day sales to uncover this mystery.
First, let’s get a basic understanding of what cold calling is.
Here are a few definitions:
“Cold calling is a technique whereby a salesperson contacts individuals who have not previously expressed an interest in the products or services that are being offered, as opposed to warm calling.” – Investopedia
“Cold calling means soliciting potential customers who were not expecting to speak with you.” – About
“When I talk about cold calling, I am talking about calling someone who is not expecting your call in order to initiate a sales conversation. What makes it cold is that they aren’t expecting your call.” – The Sales Blog
“A telephone call or visit made to someone who is not known or not expecting contact, often in order to sell something.” – The Free Dictionary
Based on the above definitions,
What Does Cold Calling Involve?
- The recipient is not expecting a call
- The recipient has not previously expressed any prior interest in the seller’s product
- The objective is to sell to the recipient or secure a sales appointment
What Does Cold Calling Not Involve?
- Indiscriminate dialing of numbers
- Frequent calling of the same person to the point of irritation
“In essence, cold calling is the art of approaching someone, professionally, openly and meaningfully, with a sensible proposition.” (Source)
Among the many definitions of cold calling on the internet, this is the one that seems the most pragmatic. Why does something so useful and fundamental need to die, right? Or it is that cold calling has transformed with time?
Well, businesses might be overwhelmed by lead generation and other forms of inbound marketing techniques in recent years, but it would be premature to completely write off cold calling.
It’s true that most businesses see cold calling as an outdated tactic for various reasons such as:
- The sales person is perceived as annoying and unwelcome
- The sales person should go through gatekeepers or receptionists
- The decision maker avoids the call
But, in contrast, we are seeing a new trend where sales teams are using cold calling with a refined approach.
Cold Calling Without Cold Calls
The new approach involves various outbound techniques, like lead generation and cold emailing to develop a relationship with a prospect before making a call. This is in fact cold calling without cold calls. In his book, Predictable Revenue, Aaron Ross calls the new technique “Cold Calling 2.0.”
The technique involves:
- Creating an Ideal Customer Profile
- Connecting with prospects from lead generation and building a relationship through email
- Then, continuing the conversation on the phone
In order to acquire a substantial Return on Investment (ROI), Ross suggests focusing your time and energy on suitable prospects.
Create Your Ideal Customer Profile
Your ideal customers have certain characteristics that fit with your business. You have to identify what type of leads you want to speak with and what challenges they are facing. Invest time researching and creating a detailed customer profile so that you can focus your sales efforts on generating high-quality leads. Or you can outsource your lead generation process to sales automation and lead generation companies for these high-quality leads. This will ensure that the leads you have generated are of good quality and have the potential to convert.
You can start by asking a few questions like:
- What’s the size of the company? (Revenue, number of customers, number of employees, etc.)
- What’s the size of the relevant department?
- Which industry or niche are they serving?
- How long have they been in the business?
- What’s the reason that would prevent them from buying your solution?
- What’s the reason that would make them buy your solution?
- How is their buying process?
- What type of services or tools they’re currently using?
Email Your Leads
Once you generate the leads based on your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), send a to-the-point email. Traditional cold calling is not received well because the recipient of the call is not expecting to hear from you. So make sure you build a rapport through an email before making a call. Consider these steps while sending an email.
Your email should achieve one of these two things:
- If you’re unsure the email is sent to a gatekeeper or an unrelated person, ask for a referral to the decision maker or the right person to talk with. Once you get the email of the right person, send another email mentioning the name of the colleague who referred you his/her email.
- Or, ask for the appropriate time and day that would be suitable to schedule a quick phone call to discuss how you can solve their core problem/challenge.
Make a Call
The purpose of the call is to build on the email conversation and focus on closing the deal. You will no longer be talking cold with an unknown prospect as you have already built an email rapport. Also, you have had plenty of research on the company you’re talking with and you know you can offer something concrete.
The modern inbound marketing techniques like content marketing, social selling, and lead generation are very effective means to generate leads. However, you will have to speak with a prospect on the telephone at some point of the sales process, or you will not be able to represent the value of the product/service you are selling. Our previous blog on cold calling tips to improve sales result might just be helpful.
Bottom line: Cold calling isn’t dead. It has rather evolved with the integration of inbound marketing tools. Cold calling unqualified leads is completely an outdated tactic that has higher chances to fail; but when it’s targeted and supplemented with lead qualification and cold emails, it would be highly effective.