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