There is no hotter topic in B2B sales than cold calling, does it work, and is it necessary in today’s social environment, call screening, voice mail, and “inbound” universe. Well I am here to tell you it does work in 2013, and will continue to work in 2014 and beyond. And I am not alone in that conviction, not only are other experts with me on this, but so are the facts; I know many don’t like confuse the issue with facts, but I just feel the need (see below).
Definition: To start we need to define “cold call”, there are almost as many meanings as there are pundits. When I say cold call, it simply means that you are not on the targets agenda for that day. You could have encyclopedic knowledge about their company, the prospect personally, industry, all the real success you have delivered to people like them in similar scenarios; if you are not a scheduled event – you are a cold call. I am not talking about just picking up the phone, start dialing at A, and keep going, saying “Wanna buy?” That’s not cold calling, that’s just dialing for dollars, not effective from a time and resource view point, especially given the time demands sales professionals face these days.
But if you do your homework, prepare for the call in every way, expose yourself on social media, whip up a the best posts, etc., it does not change the reality that your targets are trying to pack 16 hours into a 12 hour day, just like you. Unless you are scheduled, you are a cold blast of interruption. That’s what makes the call cold, no matter how strong the content, they are reacting to their schedule, which does not include you or me. It is a dynamic that needs to be dealt with, and mastered, otherwise you are a socially correct, smart beyond belief sales person with a phone in their hand, a dial tone in their ear, and no new opportunity in your pipeline, now that’s cold. So as we look at three things they don’t tell you about cold calling, keep this definition in mind.
- Opens Up Untapped Overlooked Markets:
Above I spoke about facts supporting cold calling as a key component of any prospecting success, one example is a recent WSJ article “Cold Calls Still Help the Bottom Line”. Notice how social media such as LinkedIn and others play a role in their prospecting success, as does cold calling. Nothing can be truer than the comment about how by less people making prospecting calls, has created a reduction in competition for prospects by phone. This same concept pans out in a couple of other ways. First, those depending on inbound only, without outbound cold calls, are limited to that narrow segment of the market that initiated the “buying process” on their own, and as such see you in a different light. You read a lot about how many buyers are some 60% through their buying process before reaching out to a seller. I believe that, but what does that say about the role of the sales person involved:
- They are usually reduced to providing data to validate buyer’s research
- Rather than playing the role of thought leader and advisor, they are reduced to price discussions and negotiating with their own company
- In effect, the true logical conclusion of an inbound sale is for someone to take the order, that’s not selling
I know one can argue that these sellers can challenge the buyer’s thinking and change direction, but if they had the wherewithal to do that, would they have waited or allowed the process to be 60% executed without being in the game? No, they would have prospected them, and by not doing so, allowed the process to get away from them.
But where does that leave the other segment of the market, those who have not initiated the buying process, those who have something like what you sell, but could benefit from what your offer specifically; what if you can help them achieve their objectives better than they are now, but are just not calling in? Seems to me that to get to them, you’re going to have to pick up the phone (along with other actions), and if you are not on their schedule, you have to deal with being an interruption, a cold call, and deal with their reaction to the interruption not the quality of content.
This means learning to deal with the response, the objection, the rejection, the horror; well not if you are prepared.
Now – Download the Objection Handling Handbook
Wednesday Part 2 – They used to cold call – what’s changed?