Is Cold Calling Dead? How to Leverage Phone Calls in 2019

September 6, 2019
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Nathan Harris
is cold calling dead

 

This blog was originally published on July 28, 2017. It has been updated for relevance and accuracy.

Cold calling was once the gold standard of prospecting strategies for sales teams. Back then, salespeople had all the power in the buyer-seller relationship—but as the buyer’s journey evolves, is cold calling dead, or is it still a viable tactic?

Many businesses are now saying goodbye to cold calling, declaring the tactic obsolete. People all across the industry are declaring cold calling dead and gone.

So, is it time to throw in the towel and drop cold calling completely? Are the rumors of cold calling’s death true, or have they been greatly exaggerated?

Is Cold Calling Dead? Where’s The Evidence?

Curious as to what other experts were saying, we did some research. Is cold calling dead and gone? Can a company do well while using it as a sales tactic?

We found ourselves facing a seemingly endless wall of blogs ready to dismiss the tactic. However, after doing a little digging, we found a trend: most of the experts writing on the subject work for (or own) marketing companies that rely on an inbound model, meaning their services directly compete with cold calling as a tactic. Really, we shouldn’t be surprised that they are so willing to write the obituary!

One such example is 16 Compelling Statistics that Prove Cold Calling is Dead, written by our friends at HubSpot. While the evidence provided does suggest that cold calling is less effective, it certainly doesn’t prove that it’s dead. Even more impressive, almost all of the references come from companies who make money by convincing people to abandon cold calling!

Even when the source seems credible, you should always be cautious of listening to advice that might lead you in the wrong direction.

Can You Still Benefit from Cold Calling?

The big question: can cold calling still be effective in your sales strategy? Here is what the Rain Group discovered in their 2018 Top Performance In Sales Prospecting Report:

  • 69% of buyers have accepted phone calls from new providers in the last year: Cold calling still plays an essential role in the prospecting process – more than two-thirds of buyers accept phone calls from new providers.
  • Calling existing clients is still the #1 most effective prospecting tactic: If you’re looking to boost your conversions and expand sales, then calling your customer directly is still relevant today.
  • 57% of C-Level and VP buyers prefer to be contacted by phone: More than half of senior-level buyers expect to receive a phone call from you, compared to 51% directors and 47% of managers.

Setting the Truth Straight

At New Perspective, we too sell a solution that competes against cold calling. So why do we want companies to know that the cold call’s death has been faked?

Simple: our role at New Perspective is to help companies grow, and we refuse to deceive our clients when providing advice to them. We’re in this for the long run, not a quick buck, and we want to find ways to help our clients succeed.

So how can businesses leverage phone calls to improve their sales in 2019?

Where Do You Start?

While cold calling is a useful tactic for many, it is not enough to grow your business on its own. Before developing your cold calling strategy, make sure to consider the following factors:

  • Introduce a blended approach. No company can rely on just one growth strategy. Use a variety of marketing and sales tactics, commit to a set period, and systematically review your results. Adapt and repeat.
  • Implement an infrastructure such as HubSpot. Without sales and marketing tools to measure your results, you won’t know how your sales and marketing tactics are performing. Knowing what works and what doesn’t allows you to better plan your efforts.
  • Learn and adopt an Inbound sales and marketing methodology. This step may seem intimidating, but it is the most crucial part of your marketing strategy. If you want to increase your conversion rates, adopt the inbound sales methodology by focusing on learning about your prospects and providing information that is useful to them.

Turning Cold Calls into Warm Calls

How Has Cold Calling Changed?

In the past, cold calling prospects used to be the first step of the sales process. Salespeople would jot down an untargeted list of a 100 leads to contact in the hopes that one of them would convert. The strategy itself was essentially a numbers game.

However, times have changed. Not only can consumers screen their calls thanks to caller ID, but the internet also has all the information they need to make a purchase. Sales teams have to work on getting the trust of prospects before calling them if they ever hope to convert them into paying customers.

This is where warm calling comes in.

What Is Warm Calling?

You could say that warm calling is a “justified” version of cold calling. It’s the act of calling a recipient that you already know will be a good fit for your business. Perhaps they’ve taken action on your website, or you’ve done your research and think they’re a perfect fit for your persona. Either way, when you go into a call knowing how you can help them, your call won’t come across as unexpected or out of the blue.

Here’s an example of what a warm call can look like:

Brian: Hi John, this is Brian from Evergreen. I noticed that you read our blogs “What to Consider Before Installing a Commercial Irrigation System” and “Top Plants to Prevent Soil Erosion in the Santa Barbara Area.” Evergreen specializes in installing commercial irrigation systems and landscaping within erosion-prone environments. I would be happy to share how we’ve solved similar problems for some customers in your area.

John: That would be great! The blogs were really informative, but also quite overwhelming. There were a lot of factors that I hadn’t considered.

Brian: That’s pretty common, and we have some further support material I can send you. But first, would you mind if I ask you a few more questions? These will help me determine how we can advise.

In the example above, Brian is reaching out over the phone, but he has some background knowledge about the prospect. He thinks that John will be a good fit for Evergreen and is willing to offer him some help.

So how do you get started with warm calling? Here are 4 simple tactics you can apply today to multiply your sales:

#1. Identify Good Fit Customers

Preparation is key when it comes to warm calling.

Before you even think about picking up the phone, begin by creating a buyer persona of your ideal customer. Review your most successful clients and identify which similarities they have. Target prospects that are similar to your customers in terms of industry, size, and location face similar problems of your existing clients.

You should also research how many years the company’s been in business, the number of employees they have and which products or services they sell. While this may seem like a no-brainer, knowing this basic information is essential to tailoring your value proposition.

#2. Interact With Them Online

Before picking up the phone to call a lead, a good strategy to apply is to first interact with them on social media. Considering that 3.2 billion people are using social platforms, it makes sense to begin your sales efforts there. Here’s how to do it:

  • Follow them on their social media accounts. No one can resist looking at their notifications to check out their new followers. At the bare minimum, following their accounts will give them your picture and your name.
  • Share their content. If you find their social media posts to be useful and interesting, share their content on your social accounts to boost their exposure and engage with them.
  • Comment on their posts. Provide value by explaining how their post helped you, and finishing off with a question. This will encourage dialogue between you and the potential customer without coming across as salesy.
  • Connect with them on LinkedIn. Log in to LinkedIn and view your customer’s profile—chances are, they’ll want to view your profile too. Once they do this, proceed to send them a personalized connection request right away.
  • Finally, reach out with a call. The last step is to call them a few days later. By this stage, they should be able to recognize you based on your online engagement. You can start the phone conversation by bringing up whatever subject you were discussing on social media.

#3. Prepare Your Subject Matters Ahead of Time

The key to initiating a professional call with a prospect is to bring up a topic that they are familiar with. For example, here’s a subject you could bring up during your call:

“I saw you wrote a Facebook post on how to drive comments on social media to amplify your reach. I read it a couple times, and I found what you wrote about X tactic to be quite thought-provoking. I thought I’d call you to discuss whether it was effective.”

This type of opening tailored to your customer compliments them, engages with them the right way, and ultimately leads to questions on why they chose this strategy and how you can help.

#4. Use Your COI (Center-of-Influence)

As the old saying goes, “It’s not what you know that matters, it’s who you know.”

A center-of-influence (COI) refers to a group of people or organizations that can give you access to new prospects through the use of referrals. An introduction to a prospect through a referral will qualify you as a person to be trusted, because a respected business colleague or friend has vouched for you. Prospects are more willing to call you back when they respect the name you are referencing.

Here’s where you can find COI relationships:

  • Previous customers who have been satisfied with your product or service.
  • Associations and networking groups that you are involved in.
  • Your LinkedIn network.
  • Past colleagues and employers that you’ve worked with.
  • Advisors in your company.

Adapting Your Strategy

Is cold calling dead? No, but it has changed.

Even as marketing evolves, there’s no reason to throw cold calling completely out the window. By using warm calls as part of your sales strategy, you’ll effortlessly reach out to prospects that will be a good fit for your company.

Need help turning those cold calls into warm calls? Reach out to us!

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