TweetI am of the opinion that B2B telephone cold calling is not going away anytime soon and by cold calling I’m talking about a sales person taking the initiative to reach out by phone, to someone with whom they’ve had no previous contact. One day, when we’re all swimming in so many quality inbound leads that we can barely keep pace, cold calling might die, but that day isn’t here yet for most businesses.
In a recent webinar presented by sales effectiveness firm Vorsight it was reported that sales people attribute only 29% of the leads that resulted in their best deals to marketing, while 45% of deals worth over $100K+ were definitely self generated by sales.
Much of that work will start with a cold call and the biggest challenge with calling new business contacts is just how many tries it takes to get that first conversation – somewhere from 12-16 attempts on average. Sales pipelines are voracious feeders and the sheer volume of calls required to get the conversations, appointments and presentations needed to fill them is a major stumbling point for many sales professionals and their employers. Many of those failed attempts dead end in voicemail- but that doesn’t need to be a dead end any more.As long as you are not deluging a future prospect with repetitive value-less voicemails you should always leave voicemail and follow up emails as a way to begin to establish your value proposition.
Returned calls will happen when what you have to offer or talk about becomes a priority for the person on the other end of the phone. With so many other uncontrollable factors influencing that timing, it can often feel like your voicemail messages are going into an enormous black hole. They are not.
You need to make a lot of calls and leave a lot of messages and one way to hit the numbers you need on your introductory calling efforts is to structure campaigns with pre-recorded messages and follow up emails. But here’s the challenge. The BEST messages will always include or relate to something that is of interest to your contact. So, how can you create a campaign to achieve that?
It’s not difficult at all, actually and there are only two things you need to do. Sort your list and use likely common focal points for your messages.
Group your contacts into clusters with similar, likely business interests. Two ways (but not the only two ways) to do that are by job function and/or market segments. For example; sort your list by industry- financial vs retail vs healthcare vs manufacturing. If you don’t have that information – get it. You need it. If all your prospects are financial then fine tune the sort. You can also sort your contacts by job titles or the work they do. Isolate your sales from marketing from financial contacts and again, if you’re skewed into one department, you’ll know how to fine tune the sort. The goal is to be able to craft a well thought out pre-recorded message that will have some relevance and sound personalized for as many people as possible.
Now you need a common hook. It won’t be perfect but it will help a great deal. For example for a retail market segment you can talk about the National Retail Federation Convention and Trade Show at the right time of year. You can talk about any newsworthy event that affects that industry. You can mention about shared challenges, as in ” I was talking with a company very similar to yours and they were deeply concerned about X and I thought you might be interested in how they solved that problem.” Another idea is to refer to a discussion on LinkedIn that would be of likely interest. Follow up your voicemail with an email that offers a little more detail and a link to more information that you can reasonably expect will be of interest to them.
You won’t appeal to everyone on your list, every time, but you’re demonstrating an interest in their possible issues and a desire to help. Will these messages be as effective as a carefully crafted, individual message, based on specific research into that company? No. They won’t. But you’ll more than make up for that with your ability to consistently, measurably reach out repetitvely, to a vastly larger audience. Don’t forget, you’ll still be making your own calls and can supplement your basic campaign with your own individual, more indepth efforts.
Some people insist that cold calling is all about pre-call research and a few carefully tailored messages, while others are equally adamant that it’s a matter of numbers, ratios and volume. I believe that you need both quality and volume to be successful in this market and this is one way to achieve that.