Gerri Knilans, President, Trade Press Services
Cold calling is an outbound marketing effort many consider outdated. In fact, there are countless blogs and articles proclaiming in large type, “cold calling is dead!” However, 90% of Fortune 500 companies consider telemarketing an effective marketing campaign and are still investing in outbound calling programs. So, the question is why?
One reason is that amidst rapidly evolving technology, human interaction and out reach are more important than ever. In fact, 70 percent of B2B sales come from human interaction, and 56 percent of those sales start with telemarketing. But cold calling takes skill. Here are some keys to turning cold calls into conversations.
Before the call
Do your homework. Use market research to develop a targeted list of industries, organizations and likely decision-makers. Understand the specific marketplace’s common challenges and pain points that your products and services can solve. Then visit the website and familiarize yourself with each business you plan to call. Know what the company does and be prepared to confidently and concisely describe your value proposition in a way that addresses its unique needs.
Understand the goal of your call. Often people confuse the idea of cold-calling with closing a sale. But that comes later. The goal of a cold call is to identify the correct person you should be speaking to, introduce your company and identify next steps, whether it is to provide additional information, have an introductory conversation or schedule a face-to-face meeting.
During the call
It is becoming more and more difficult to reach busy professionals by phone. In the event you do connect with someone directly, a simple, but professional, approach is to state your purpose and ask if the prospect has a few minutes to talk or if they would prefer an email first. If the prospect is open to a conversation, thank them for their time and assure them you will make it brief. Remember to speak clearly, and engage the call recipient by asking open-ended questions right away to learn more about the organization and its challenges. Then you will be able to focus on what’s in it for them to work with you.
In some cases you need to be prepared to respond to objections. Be ready to hear “no time,”“no money,” or “no need” and prepare in advance how to respond to these. End the call with a mutually agreed upon next step, whether it’s a follow-up call in the future or an agreement to send requested information.
After the call
Make notes about the details of every call in your CRM system or other database. Be as detailed as possible, including personal and professional information. This will come in handy whether you or one of your colleagues is the person following up. In addition to setting a call back date, consider an email, LinkedIn connection or social media outreach. Connecting via other media platforms reinforces the notion that you’re attempting to establish and maintain a relationship. Also, follow up with any requested information in a timely manner.
Preparing for future calls
Before reconnecting with a prospect, take the time to review all notes and reflect on what was said and what still needs to be discussed. Be ready to continue where you (or someone else) left off, but also to check with the prospect to see if anything has changed since the last contact. Then you will be better prepared to proceed, bringing new information to that conversation. Continue to follow that process for each subsequent exchange.
The human touch
Cold calling may feel like an outdated effort that garners resistance from business people. However, if done well, it can be one of the most targeted, effective and efficient ways to reach potential customers. After all, the human touch makes a strong impact that an impersonal email or referral to a webpage will not. It’s important to remember that cold calling is a numbers game, but every “no” gets you closer to a “yes.” The bottom line: don’t be afraid to pick up the phone, smile, and have a conversation.
About the Author
Gerri Knilans is president of Thousand Oaks, California-based Trade Press Services. As marketing communications strategists, serving organizations of all sizes and types since 1995, the company provides writing, media outreach and general marketing support for firms whose internal resources are on overload. For additional information, please call 805 496-8850, visit http://www.tradepressservices.com, or send an email to email@example.com.