Cold calling. It has been a sales strategy long before the days of door-knocking, or the invention of the phone. Salesmen literally roamed the streets presenting their wares to anyone, and everyone they came across. Once in a while, they would strike it lucky. Our world has changed in a couple of hundred years; but strangely, human nature remains very similar, we’re really just tweaking the same sales methods - using tech, and modern psychology. Some say cold calling in modern B2B sales is dead. On the contrary, it’s well and truly alive and kicking; but it has evolved. Pesky telemarketers and dodgy scammers have injected a good dose of distrust into this age-old method, so your approach needs to immediately put your customers at ease. We won’t lie, cold calling can be tough. There’s a very fine line between intruding on someone’s stressful and busy day...or, uncovering an amazing opportunity. Keep in mind that every business needs marketing, every business needs to chase business, and digital methods are here to stay. That’s a distinct advantage; but your prospects are probably receiving spam emails promising to get them to #1 on Google search all the time. They have likely had a poor experience with marketing. With the explosion of digital marketing comes many who are not playing by the rules, and who could damage unsuspecting businesses. Customers are wary of this, so if you’re embarking on a cold calling strategy, you must distinguish yourself, and present authenticity very quickly, so as not to get labelled with the ‘dodgy telemarketer’ label. Cold calling has changed; and is probably more effective than ever when performed well.
Cold-calling Has Turned Warm
Warm calling is about having as much prior knowledge about your prospect as possible. This not only helps you qualify whether or not they’re a suitable client, but it also demonstrates you have put time and effort into making a thoughtful, personalised call. Ideally, you might have already had some form of contact with them. Perhaps an interchange over social media, maybe they’re on your email list and have opened your email, you could even be a customer of their business. When cold calling, a small reference point can help you exponentially.
You are much more likely to gain an appointment or meeting if you have already had some interaction with your prospects. Research and understand their business, and how they’re positioned in the market. What is their measure of success in business...what is most important to them? Research their competitors to gain an idea of who is doing what better when it comes to marketing. Plan carefully in advance and ask key questions focused on your client, your aim is to get them to open up about some of the challenges they’re facing in marketing, and what can be done to help them overcome those problems. Try and form an understanding of what matters most to them. Here are some of our hottest warm-calling tips.
Know Your Customer
Make sure you know the name, position and responsibilities of the person you should be talking to. For small businesses with ten or fewer employees, it’s likely the owner will handle the marketing decisions. If you’re prospecting a larger company you might be looking for the marketing manager, or business development manager. Ensure you have sound prior knowledge of their products and services and how they are currently promoting their business. Identify what the best (or worst) times to call might be. If you’re calling busy restaurant owners, don’t interrupt them during opening hours and busy service periods.
Leave The Sales Pitch For Later
It’s a nice ice-breaker to compliment your prospect on their website or promotional efforts - never insult their current brand and marketing, even if you think it needs a complete overhaul.
Your first call is not about selling, it’s about an introduction and getting your prospect talking. Don’t follow a script, our voices automatically change to an unnatural robotic gait when we’re scripted. Be natural, calm and authentic - and don’t talk too fast! Thought leaders in the B2B sales world say the way you use your ‘voice’ in a cold call is just as important...if not MORE important than what you say. Avoid sounding overly excited or enthusiastic, you want your prospect to feel relaxed enough to engage in conversation and open up. Like they’re talking to a friend. This is not the time to launch into an aggressive sales pitch; you can’t close a deal that isn’t open yet. Your aim for the first call is to engage in conversation and hopefully get a meeting. What’s the best way to start a conversation? Ask questions.
Know Your Customer’s Customer
To help your customer market their business to the right people, you need to know who they are! Your prospect has one goal, to acquire and keep their customers. If you talk their language about who their business best serves and how you can help connect them with more ideal customers and opportunities, they’ll be more inclined to hear you out. This shows you have given it some real thought and genuinely care about helping them further and grow their business through marketing.
Talk Less About You, And More About Them
Show interest in their business and ask questions you know they’ll want to answer. Ask them to tell you the story of their business, what they love about it, and possible future goals. Listen attentively to their answers, through their words you will likely uncover some of the things that might be holding them back, or perhaps positive growth opportunities that you could look at capitalising on. Listen well, but be sure to offer your input as well.
Interestingly, Gong.io found that of 100,000 salespeople analysed, those who talked for 54% of the call were successful, as opposed to their unsuccessful counterparts who only spent 42% of the call talking themselves.
Be Customer-aware And Self-aware
If your customer sounds like they’re in a rush, don’t keep them on the phone for too long. Acknowledge that you understand they’re busy and probably under pressure. If you’re struggling to get your customers talking, try changing tactics - ask them about their product or service as though you’re interested as a potential customer of theirs. Try to find some common ground. If you fear they’ll soon end the call, ask if you can send them a little further information and ideas via email. This gives you an opportunity to keep in touch, and can set your prospect up as a ‘warm call’ at a future date. If your call is going well and the timing is right, touch on a little more about what you do, and offer some ideas that might help them. Request a meeting to further discuss, and permission to forward some handy resources via email that will give a little insight into what you do, and HAVE done for others like them.
What To Do If You Land A Meeting?
They said yes! Well done, try not to fall off your chair; Your thoughtfulness has paid off, and your prospect is definitely interested, so don’t blow it! Grasp this opportunity with both hands and take it as a chance to learn more about your potential new client and their needs. During your meeting, focus on earning trust by discussing their long and short-term goals. Practice more listening than talking, the best insights you can glean into how to sell your services, build a long term relationship, and achieve their goals, often comes straight from the client's mouth. If you obtain a prospect's email, be sure to follow up; but don’t overdo it and become a pest; earning the eager ear of a potential client can take some time, it’s important to build rapport and confidence. Make sure at each touch point you’re offering something of value to your customer. Thoughtful personalised marketing is what they’ll be looking for if they engage your services, so why not demonstrate exactly that as part of your acquisition strategy.
Overcome the Cold Calling Blues
This hilarious video from prospecting legend Matt Macnamara says it all.
Cold calling can be daunting, difficult, draining and just down right hard work! But, according to Hubspot, “41.2% of salespeople say their phone is the most effective sales tool at their disposal.”
If you keep getting snapped at or hung up on, don’t be disheartened. According to a study by Kenan-Flagler Business School, cold calling only has a 2.5% success rate. This means if you aimed for two conversions - two new prospect meetings per week, you would have to call 80 people! That’s a lot of calls; but if you break it down over five days, it’s reasonable at 16 calls per day. Eight calls in the morning, and eight in the afternoon, that’s doable. Start with the warmest calls first, those you feel more comfortable with. If you keep it up you will soon perfect the art of warm calling, and your hard work and dedication will pay off as you grow your business with the most direct, cost-effective form of prospecting. It’s an ancient and very human-centric art. Focus on chatting to your potential clients and getting to know them rather than bombarding them with emails or other methods which may seem impersonal. A good old fashioned conversation can make all the difference. At Anchor Digital, our first step to achieving solutions is consulting. We understand that without properly getting to know your client, the next steps to reaching their goals can be pointless, which is why we put a strong emphasis on consulting. If you want to improve your cold calling techniques, contact us! Good luck and happy dialling!