Cold Calling Is Not Dead

Author Kendra Lee

The hot topic in sales recently is that cold calling is DEAD. The lead generation landscape has changed. Publish good campaign content and people will flock to you. Engage on social media to begin prospecting conversations. Don’t bother with calling. Nobody picks up their phone anyway.

But I disagree – emphatically. Cold calling is not DEAD. What’s dead is how you approach it.

It’s time to rethink cold calling because no matter what other lead generation strategies you use (and we use 14 different activities in campaigns we run for clients), you have to pick up the phone at some point and call prospects. Because prospects won’t call you until they’re desperate – or they’ve done a ton of research.

You don’t want desperate prospects as they’re calling all sorts of people looking for a fast, inexpensive solution – and many times not the right solution for their issue. You don’t want scientific prospects as they’ve researched you and 12 of your competitors, determined exactly what they need, and the price they’re willing to pay for it – before they call.

Neither desperate nor scientific prospects are ideal for you. It’s too competitive. You want to be able to influence their decision making, build a relationship based on trust, and make recommendations they value.

Lead Generation and Cold Calling

Which brings us full circle to lead generation and cold calling. Lead generation allows you to share content that starts influencing decision making, building a relationship and sharing recommendations. But outbound lead generation does NOT get them to pick up the phone – until they’re desperate or have done their research.

How stressful for you! If you never call, you’re always in reactive, competitive, price comparison mode. You’ll burn out your salespeople and stunt your business growth.

Insert cold calling at key points in your lead generation, and now you are contacting the people who have been paying attention to your content before they’re desperate and have analyzed their options as if they’re Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory. You get to suggest setting an appointment to discuss their current situation in advance of all your competitors.

Now it’s not even a real cold call.

Nurture Your Prospects

When you nurture prospects with lead generation, you decrease the percentage that are ice cold when you call. That can make calling new prospects not just easier, but more fun.

Good bye stress. Hello potential new friends.

The difference between the cold and warm calls is that you have something to frame your opening around other than who you are and what your company is selling. If you have done lead generation right, you can begin your conversation focused on the contact’s issues, needs and trigger events. You know what the resonating issues are because you’re only contacting the people who are paying attention to the lead generation content you’re sending them.

For the best salespeople, lead generation content helps them easily reframe their cold calls with a new prospecting “script.” They elevate their conversation around prospects’ trigger events.

Your Goals

As you call, you’re not just closing for an appointment, you are closing to:

  1. Validate that this contact is the right person. If the contact isn’t the right person, they’re uncovering who the right person is and securing an introduction.
  2. Gain agreement and a timeframe to talk again if the prospect isn’t ready now. Top salespeople set an appointment for that conversation, even if it’s six months away.
  3. Generate interest for the prospect to continue reading your content going forward. You’re publishing content that’s relevant to this target market. Just because they have talked with a rep for 5 minutes doesn’t mean they now know everything. Leave them wanting more, committed to paying attention.
  4. Ultimately, set an appointment because this is the right person, right issue and right time.

Now all the cold calls are warm calls. You aren’t waiting for the desperate and scientist prospects to call you. Your lead generation isn’t wasted. You’re reaching out, calling prospects to start the relationships, and finding the people who need you now. Pick up the phone. Calling is NOT dead.

Kendra Lee is president of KLA Group, which works with companies to break in and exceed revenue objectives in the Small and Midmarket Business (SMB) segment. Read more blogs from Kendra here.

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    Jim Barnet:

    Great article Kendra, I couldn’t agree more. Cold calling is actually one of our most productive lead gen activities. What we’ve trained our reps to do, is NOT to call prospects to talk about our product, but instead to call looking to confirm “compelling pain” (the status quo is not an option). We already know the top 5 critical problems our PSA software solves (Poor communication between departments, inability to respond to changes in a coordinated way, making key decisions based on outdated and incomplete information, etc.,) and the typical negative business outcomes that result if you have those kinds problems. So our sales people are told their job is not to sell people by cold calling, it’s to find people who have that compelling pain and confirm if they want to do anything about it. That’s it. Because the next natural question if they have compelling pain and want to address it, is whether or not you can help.

    Of the average 10 step buying process, step 5-6 is your desperate/scientific buyer contacting a Sales rep. Confirming pain is way up at step 3. (Step 1: Do I have a problem, Step 2: Is this problem worth investigating further, Step 3) What are the different ways of solving this problem). Which is 2-3 buying steps earlier than any other competing salesperson is going to get a chance to talk to the prospective buyer.

    But the caveat is, if you get engaged at Step 3, it’s a consultative “fit/no fit” conversation. Because the customer hasn’t arrived at Step 5 yet: Which vendors sell the solution I think is the best way to solve this problem (based on Step 3 research)( Step 4 is which way of solving this problem is best for me/my company). So if your rep goes right to product sale, they’ll kill the conversation.

    Our approach at Promys is, “You have a problem, I may or may not have a solution. Let’s have an open and candid conversation about your problem and the problems I solve for my ideal customer profile to determine if it’s worth our talking further or not.”

    So I couldn’t agree more, cold calling isn’t dead, but the “old” way of cold calling (it slices, it dices, it julienne’s – I don’t know if you need any of those things, but buy now and you’ll get the second one free..) is dead as disco, bell bottoms and acid wash jeans (I actually miss the first two if truth be told – but I don’t miss the ‘old’ way of cold calling – good riddance).

    Jim Barnet
    Promys PSA
    Director Sales & Marketing
    Tel: 905-847-6539, ext. 2972
    Cell: 647-239-2942
    [email protected]
    t: @PROMYS_PSA

    Kendra Lee:

    An excellent description of the process and what happens if you try to go for a product sale rather than a consultative conversation – even in a cold call.

    Your approach as you describe it here works no matter what IT solution you’re selling. Indeed, no matter what business solution you’re selling.

    As you share, the right way to think about cold calling is: “You have a problem, I may or may not have a solution. Let’s have an open and candid conversation about your problem and the problems I solve for my ideal customer profile to determine if it’s worth our talking further or not.”

    Think of the relationships you start even when a contact isn’t yet ready to address the issue. They’ll remember you and you get to leave the door open to check back again in 3, 4, 6 months to see what’s changed.

    Very well stated. Thank you for sharing!

    Kendra Lee
    [email protected]
    t: @KendraLeeKLA

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