After working in sales and marketing for many years the most despised area of promotion seems to be ‘cold calling’. This is when a prospect is contacted via the phone, and is solicited for new business.
See … even the way I used the word ‘solicited’ makes it sound dodgy. A bit cheap and nasty.
I could have said: This is the process of personal contact used to identify if a prospect is likely to have a need for your services.
You see, it depends on your point of view.
- Does cold calling work?
- Should you be using it for your business?
- Should you be dumping the phone and instead opt for the new online social networks?
Just do a quick online search. You will find articles that give pro’s and con’s of cold calling, and promote the use of online networks as an alternative. Is that the right move for your business? You might also see results of ‘tests’ that compare the number of cold phone calls made, versus making contact via online networks. How transferable are those results to your situation?
You can also attend telesales training courses that teach you ‘best practice’ approaches for modern cold calling. So the art of making phone calls is not completely lost.
But one thing is clear … the use of telemarketing is slowly declining across industry in general.
Slowly declining. But not completely abandoned. And for good reasons.
Using the telephone to contact potential clients is a tactic that will not be disappearing any time soon.
- It is relatively cheap (especially for smaller businesses who don’t have the massive advertising budgets to get ‘on the radar’).
- It is immediate. You know what the result is.
- It is personal. You can make an impact (positive or negative!).
- And if used professionally it can be one of the best ways to create sales opportunities.
Most people dislike ‘cold calling’ because it is done badly so often.
However, you can do a better job and get better results.
- Train your staff who will make the calls. It requires skill, tact, and professionalism.
- Develop a script (statements and questions) that doesn’t trigger any ‘sales person’ alarms for your prospect.
- Develop supporting documents (marketing materials)… I call them sales tools.
- Create a question-based strategy that quickly gets to the core of if there is an opportunity for a further discussion.
- Be selective in who you call – have a relevant list to work from. If possible do some homework to identify what the company does, what their current issues are, and who you should speak to.
- Implement a marketing strategy that will warm up prospects, potentially creating interest in your services – essentially getting your prospects to qualify themselves, without you having to call them.
Finally, remember that for B-to-B selling the focus of cold calling is most often about identifying opportunities.
It is not about trying to ‘clinch the sale’ on the first phone call. When selling services or complex products that will never work.
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