Cold calling has been a fundamental sales strategy since the theoretical beginning of time. Sales demands lead generation and to create leads you need to tap on shoulders, knock on doors and pick up the phone. The big debate in sales isn’t so much about the need for prospecting and ‘cold outreach’ as much as the current effectiveness of ‘cold calling.’ By cold calling I refer to smile and dial, burn and churn through your book of leads trying to get someone on the phone and book a meeting, which hopefully leads to a opportunity and a sale.
I first started cold calling in college at my university – calling hundreds of donors trying to raise money for the school. It was a noble cause, but also tedious and hard. In spite of the hurdles my love of connecting with people helped me to be successful in cold calling. This transferred to the nitty gritty of my first tech sales job where we were in the Lead Gen ‘pit’ – calling 130-150 people a day. Out of these calls I worked for quality over quantity – which led to sales but also showed some flaws with the churn and burn approach.
Many prospects were frustrated that companies call over and over again – hassling them for a meeting without building value. This in turn frustrated Account Executives who performed the ‘demos’ with prospects who were just showing up because they got ‘tricked’ into the meeting.
The ROI on spending eight hours a day calling lists so quickly you don’t even know the client’s company name is dying – or it should. Yes you need to call x number of prospects to net a demo, but you also need to think about quality and what you are trying to accomplish.
Cold calling is not dead, but it needs to be transformed into our current client ecosystem. We need to be purposeful in outreach otherwise you are wasting your time and the prospects energy. Metrics on how many meetings booked are only so helpful for a company if that translates to sales.
So, yes picking up the phone with ‘cold’ outreach is important. But that ‘cold’ outreach needs to be thoughtful – driven by a why.
Why are we calling? How can we help the client? What are their needs?
The hook needs to bring value. At my previous company I loved the fact we helped clients simplify their work and provide secure access to file transfer. I knew the why of what we were doing and positive impact when I called. I knew that this call could help their business.
So my pitch was still simple and to the point but it was purposeful. I didn’t call to force my way onto their calendar, but invited them to a discussion. And yes I battled rejection, but I didn’t feel slimy when I called or followed up and the client could see that authenticity. I was graciously persistent because I understood my company’s why and our value impacted the company. Value is not feature pitching – while feature’s matter, building value from cold call to closing is about showing how the features impact their day to day. With my current company – having a survey builder like Qualtrics is cool with great features, but the impact is how can we improve customer experience so their loyalty leads to increased ROI.
You need to understand your company’s ‘why’ – and not simple what the solution does – but how it can impact your client’s day to day. File sharing helps save time – time the customer can use on other important business tasks or to free up an hour after work with their family.
Think about these things as you dial. Be purposeful.
Cold calling shouldn’t be frigid…You need to spend a few minutes researching your client before you call them. Find out what they do and think about potential ways your product/company can help. Be curious – and excited to learn about the company. This might not get you a meeting – but it will help long term because clients respect authenticity and sincerity. They appreciate when you are kind and respect boundaries.
Be respectful of their time, but in doing so recognize they the value you bring is important. Sometimes respecting a client’s time is taking the rejection – however it is a bank with a threat of a security breach and you can protect their infrastructure – being respectful means be candid enough to not take ‘no’ for an answer just because rejection is hard. This is a seasoned skill that takes discernment and comes from…
Industry Knowledge paired with Active Listening:
If you are calling into banks research their industry problems and understand why your product can uniquely solve their need. This puts you in a consultative expert position – paired with the ability to listen to understand the client on the call will empower you to book the meeting and build authentic rapport.
Ex: “I don’t have time to talk, my client forgot to sign a loan document and I have to drive by their home to drop it off so we can ensure the paperwork is filed on time.’
You automatically are aware that many lenders struggle with collecting initial loan documentation/signing docs and your product can help simplify the process. You hear their problem and are able to consult with a solution:
“I completely understand, I work with lenders often and many find it cumbersome to get all the documents through the mail or face to face. How would it impact your business if we had a simple and secure electronic way to request and track the documentation so you don’t have to constantly have delays in the application process.”
You cannot live and die by the cold call. At the end of the day the most successful prospecting efforts are diversified. I know I often ignore unknown numbers – checking a voicemail to delete a ‘spam’ message. Email is essential, but emailing alone is not going to cut it either – you need to combine emailing, calling with social media to really target prospects.
In this targeted approach you need to be strategic. Have a cadence and be flexible – tailoring outreach based on the individual prospect.
Well-written, but robotic emails from automatic sequences will get deleted. Be open to personalize because people want to buy from people they can relate too.
We’ll dig into emailing and social media (LinkedIN) in follow-up posts, but hopefully you can run with these tips and book some great meetings.