Cold calling is dead? Not so fast.

B2C story: He always calls you at an inappropriate time – while you’re packing your kids, dogs and supplies into your car. “This is Pyro Man from Amazing Insurances, do you have 1 minute to talk about your fire insurance?” You rarely have, and that caller probably ends up on your blocked list.

B2B story: He always calls you at an inappropriate time – while you’re stuffing your employees, powerpoint decks and supplies into the meeting room. “This is Slick Rick from Amazing IT Services, do you have 1 minute to talk about your IT strategy?” You rarely have, and that caller probably ends up on your blocked list.

Cold calling can be annoying if badly timed

What is cold calling?

Cold calling refers to making unsolicited phone calls to a person or business in order to try and sell them goods or services. Let’s admit it, we all hate it when some stranger calls us and tries to sell us something. We also hate the idea of doing cold calls ourselves. It’s not easy.

In this blog post we consider whether you should do cold calls or whether you should just avoid calling altogether. The context here is new customer acquisition so we’re not talking about post-selling or up-selling.

Cold calling success rates

Cold calling success rates are declining

This classic study from Kenan-Flagler Business School finds that “cold calling has only a 2.5% success rate.” This 2.5% success rate basically means that an experienced sales guy can make one appointment or other valid follow-up per working day. I’m not seeing ROI there, are you?

Just consider the effort it takes: first hire someone, then gather a contact lists and only after that try your best to reach decision makers… and this is only the surface of the pain.

I recently interviewed one experience “sales whisperer” Pasi Rautio from tuplaamo.fi who has coached tens of thousands B2B- and B2C-sales guys. I asked him how he finds cold calling in today’s sales environment. This is what he said:

“Doing cold calls is like taking your suitcase and going door to door trying to sell something. There’s always someone crazy enough to buy, but most of the doors are not opened”

Calling itself is a good and personal way to communicate. So how can cold calling be warmed-up and turned into something beneficial?

Can you warm up cold calling

Preheat it before you call

First off, precede calling with more efficient techniques to gain attention. Or in other words, reduce the importance of calling. If calling needs to be done, do it as a last resort. It’s even better if you can proceed to the next phase of the sales process without making the call.

Calling should be integrated with your marketing. Approach the potential clients with targeted marketing and validate leads before you approach the clients.

3 cold calling examples of how to preheat your call

Infographic: 3 cold calling examples

One good option to preheat and hopefully completely avoid calling is to do social selling. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s basically sales and marketing leveraging social data and personal authority and infusing it into the sales process. Social selling has proved to be more successful than cold calling and there are some great examples of social selling available right here.

If you’re going to stick to cold calling, try at least these tips

There’s a chance that your job is to do cold calls with weak leads. Ever felt like this guy?

Improve your cold calling success rate

If this is the case, try these tips to improve your cold calling success rate:

  • Narrow down your targets. If the decision maker is the CFO of an SME then don’t bother calling anyone else in the company.
  • Before you call, check your contact’s LinkedIn profile and try to appeal to his or her interests.
  • Sharpen up your sales pitch and iterate it over and over again. Within 10 seconds of calling someone, you need to win THEIR attention. Remember they’re more interested in benefits than about you. Propose a benefit that is so compelling that the client can’t say no. For example you might try this one: “This is Driller O’Rocket from Amazing Service. We’ve done co-operation with “name client’s worst competitor” and “name 2-3 other relevant companies from your industry”. With them we were able to save 30.000 USD and boost revenue 30%. Would you be interested to meet up to talk about co-operation?”
  • Measure your success and iterate previous bullet point all over again

Summary

The old adage that cold calling is dead will continue to be thrown around. But this isn’t the case. Is bad B2B sales dead? Yes. Prospects expect more than a cold sales pitch with no personalization or research. But if sales reps put the effort in before picking up the phone—and really understand their prospects’ pain points—they can strike up a real relationship, provide genuine value and ultimately improve their chances of making a sale.

How can you do this if the prospect hasn’t reached out to you first? Using tools like Leadfeeder, you can see the companies visiting your website before they fill out a form. This gives you the power to understand their problems and goals while they’re still “cold”—allowing you to make a real connection the first time you reach out to them.

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