Technology has consistently grown and improved over the past few decades. With each year, upgrades to both hardware and software seem to come faster and faster. It can be challenging to keep your business up to date with all the latest tech, but even harder to encourage your employees to adapt to the changes in communication.
Cold calling has long been a source of conversions, but more recently, “experts” have been quick to declare the technique useless — or “dead,” if you will. While it’s true that the circumstances surrounding sales calls have changed, their ability to bring in new clients has not. However, if you want to be successful, you have to modernize the outdated formula.
If you already ask yourself, “Should I invest in cold calling?” the answer is probably yes. Phone calls may seem old-fashioned, but with the right methods and tips, you’ll turn new leads into clients easily.
Cold calling is a marketing technique where a sales team approaches prospects by way of phone calls. Sales reps are responsible for calling a certain number of people and speaking with them about how your company can help them succeed, offering either a product or service. The targeted individuals are people who have expressed no prior interest — hence the term “cold.”
The purpose of cold calling is to introduce your company to the potential client, inform them and ask if they want to learn more or set up a meeting. Many companies tend to focus too strongly on generating sales in a single phone conversation, but cold calls work far better with patience.
Short answer? No. Cold calling is still alive and well. In fact, it holds a conversion rate of 6.3% — But old methods are fading out.
Since the start of the tech boom that caused telephone communications to decrease, companies either cut cold calls out of their sales process and proclaimed it useless or find new ways to keep calls relevant. The latter may take longer, but it will help you draw more conversions and clients.
If done correctly, cold calls will catch prospects at the best time to talk and maybe even serve as a nice break from a busy day. With research, a personable approach and an effective team, you’ll integrate cold calling with no problem.
The system is, by no means, broken. It just needs a little revision to correspond well with new technology and business standards.
Believe it or not, the first documentation of cold calling practices comes from as early as 1859, printed in argument manuals for sales agents. Of course, the marketing technique didn’t use telephones at this time — instead, they used in-person canvassing. But the general point and nature of cold calling has barely changed in well over a century.
It still holds the same meaning, in that your sales professionals reach out to individuals who haven’t shown interest in your company. But it has evolved from face to face interactions to phone calls, and teams have gone from flipping through Yellowpages for leads to using services and sites. With the development of new tech and the rise of the 21st century, the classic methods have become outdated.
This is why cold calling is so often pronounced dead by business websites. But they only look at the original processes. Cold calling has to evolve with the fast-paced digital age, as all forms of communication do.
One of the biggest things to change is the intended result. In earlier practices, callers were gunning for a close every time. Now, the mindset of your sales team shouldn’t be sales — it should be searching for client candidates. They should aim more for scheduling a meeting or appointment than having the prospect commit on the spot.
It has also changed in that cold calling shouldn’t be reserved for the first interaction. The tactic works much more effectively when it’s “warmed” up — or, when it’s the second strategy of your sales process. Stepping up your game to make each interaction more personal is also necessary, as tech has led many companies away from personal engagement.
Businesses that have adopted new methods are the ones who still experience the continued success of cold calling in 2020. Rather than give up on a standard sales practice, you can choose to change with the times and generate new opportunities.
Despite the claims that cold calling is a thing of the past, there are multiple ways to bring it into the present. The practice itself isn’t outdated, but the techniques you use might be.
If you want your company to benefit from cold calling, you should focus on using tactics that work with modern businesses and consumers, such as:
While jumping into a phone conversation with no prior contact may have worked years ago, it’s likely considered more of a nuisance nowadays. Consumers and business officials are inundated with ads and pitches every day. They may pass off your call as just another telemarketer to ignore.
Reaching out beforehand takes the cold call with no connection and makes it “warm,” as you will have shared a prior interaction. The call then takes the place of the second step in the process. Sending a cold email to your leads is step one. In this stage, you look for a response or clickthrough interaction with the email. If the recipient bites, it’s time for a warm call.
When your callers deliver an opening, they need it to sound smooth and well-practiced. Stumbling over words and trying to make up sentences on the fly can negatively impact the call. The best way to ensure success is by using a researched and written script.
In the script, sales reps should include a greeting, introduction with their name and company, one detail about the prospect to reference, the main benefits of your offering and a transition to a question or beginning conversation. By following these guidelines, you’ll make your point early and appeal to the prospect’s personality.
You should keep a general script for the rest of the conversation, including critical questions, but avoid sounding like a robot. Listen to the customer and adapt your pitch to their needs. Sometimes sticking too closely to a pre-written outline makes you sound unnatural. The interaction should be as close to a genuine conversation as possible while still bringing in those key points.
But you won’t always get to talk to someone — about 90% of cold calls go to voicemail. In this case, you should have a few set scripts at the ready, each conveying a different message. Ultimately, you want them to be brief, but you also need to sound helpful and trustworthy.
A lot of companies make the mistake of sending out cold calls at any random time of day. There are specific periods that make your attempt naturally more likely to succeed. Whether they’re particular to the company or customer or go with the general trend, there’s always a most effective time to call.
Typically, morning and late afternoon are the best points in the day to send out calls to other companies. Calling in these time frames means your sales reps have a better chance at speaking to someone of authority, rather than a secretary or someone with no decisive power.
While you make calls, keep track of who answers and when. Recording the data for what times people respond best or have the most time for a conversation can help your team.
Also, when you schedule appointments or callbacks with potential clients, always suggest a specific date and time rather than a general idea, such as next Monday. The customer is more likely to leave availability open if you’re specific.
When you search for leads to call, you should focus on a narrowed, targeted list. Choose a demographic or industry that commonly needs something your company provides and go from there. As you continue through the process and learn from each interaction, you can continually narrow or shift your focus to find a better fit.
You can begin to find leads on social media sites like LinkedIn and Twitter. Social media is helpful for understanding the weaknesses and needs of businesses you intend to serve. From there, you can do broader searches.
Once you have found a target, do your research. Without thorough research, you’ll end up wasting your own time as well as the customer’s time. Use company and contact traits to tailor your script and questions to what they might be seeking. Having a focused and informed outline will help your efficiency and look better from the consumer’s end.
To save time and obtain leads faster, you can turn to a data site that will provide you with already targeted lists. These lists will include the data from specific demographics, so you can skip the hassle and get straight to your intended audience. Ultimately, you’ll waste less time by contacting fewer people who aren’t within your target crowd.
Between lead sites, dialer software and Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) services, there are plenty of ways to use modern technology to your advantage. These will work well for any industry but are especially helpful for businesses that don’t need to personalize messages.
Outbound telemarketing software is a worthy investment for any company that needs to send mass amounts of cold calls per day. Not only will it help your representatives stay productive, but it’ll make their jobs less frustrating. Dialers and VOIP services both work to get your team through more calls efficiently and help you target the right customers.
One of the best things your team can do is practice their interaction skills and take something away from every call. Each conversation should be treated as a learning experience. Paying attention to how the customer responds, what questions they ask, and whether or not they’re likely to use your services or set up a meeting are all data that could be useful in future calls.
In the beginning, cold calls might feel stiff and awkward. As your sales reps practice, they’ll feel more comfortable in their improvisation skills and may go without a script. The more practiced they are, the more natural the conversation will feel to the customer, and the better they’ll listen and respond.
When calls seem to go wrong, review any potential issues with your employees. If you notify them of a mistake or suggest switching a part of the script, they can learn from the experience. You should also reward those who close sales or bring on a new client. Recognizing the positives will encourage your team to keep doing great work.
While it is often overlooked, team morale is one of the most significant factors in making effective cold calls. If your employees are unhappy, fatigued or even uncomfortable in their workspace, it will show over the phone. Calling can be a stressful and exhausting job, but unmotivated or irritated representatives won’t give the best first impression.
Providing your staff with a comfortable, collaborative space that is open and colorful will make them feel better about coming in to work than cubicles and grey. Encourage breaks and short walks. Water coolers, snacks, break rooms and multiple desk and seating choices are simple ways to ensure your team feels good and stays productive.
To get the best results possible, combine several or all of these strategies. There’s no limit to how well your cold calling tactics can work. The more effort you put in, the better result you’ll receive.
While cold calling was initially intended as a direct route to more sales, your focus should be elsewhere. Don’t expect every call — or any of them — to end in a close. If you want only to be pleasantly surprised, don’t consider them a part of sales at all.
Instead, focus on creating realistic goals for your representatives. Cold calls are an excellent way to schedule meetings and appointments, learn more about who might need your products or services, and gauge the interest of specific businesses or demographics. You should lean toward building relationships and setting up opportunities.
Adopting this long-term way of thinking will create a more positive experience for you, your team and the potential customers they contact. Patience and persistence are vital in seeing cold call success. Not only is it more polite to your prospects, but it’s known to work — 80% of sales happen after the fifth contact.
While you shouldn’t gun for immediate results, you should still have an ask. When your representatives finish a call, they should have a question or suggestion at the ready, depending on your company’s overall goals. Have them ask to set up a meeting or a second, more in-depth call to keep the prospect in contact.
While it’s not the fastest way to generate conversions, cold calling is still relevant in modern business.
Many companies have shifted to using entirely online platforms to communicate with clients, or they obtain new customers on an inbound system without reaching out to cold leads. But calling still provides a reliable method of driving conversion, and it can be integrated with email and other platforms to create a cohesive system.
More than that, calls are becoming unexpected, and person-to-person communication is often welcomed. If your team talks to their clients over the phone, they’ll form a relationship much quicker than over email. With that kind of interaction, you don’t have to worry about misinterpretation or written tone.
Creating strong bonds with clients means mutual respect and a better opportunity for word-of-mouth references. If you want to strike up business relationships and play the long game, cold calling should be an essential part of your business practices. As long as you do it well, it’s a valuable tool.
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