Tag Archives: cold calling

Attn B2B Sales – Pick Up The Phone!

Are are tired of reading about how a typical B2B sale is 50 -60-70% complete before the prospect engages with a sales rep?  I am.  And that’s because that “finding”  which might be true with some mature product/service categories does not apply to what I sell.

It doesn’t apply to what most of my clients sell either. But it seems that their marketing teams are too enamored with the content they’re finding online, which co-incidentally supports ever increasing expenditures on marketing automation software and just about every possible idea to find, nurture and score potential prospects without every actually talking to them. And this is insane, because –

There is NO substitute for a live conversation.None. Nadda. Zip. Zero. Zilch! (Did I make the point?)

But the whole trend towards online, email and demand driven content- which will move your potential sales along a predictable path of their own choosing, is also supported by two simple facts.

  • The first is that most people (and here I’m talking about anyone from a business owner who needs to drum up their own new customers to a seasoned sales executive) really don’t want to  make cold calls. Often they don’t even want to make warm calls either.
  • The second fact is that it’s so hard to reach people live on the phone that calling – while it might actually be the only reasonable alternative available to many companies- demands too much time, too much frustration and a level of dogged determination that’s a drain on most people.

Frankly, there’s another problem with cold calling, too and here – sigh- I speak from experience. When you make calls to countless prospects, and end up leaving voicemail after voicemail, that odd person who actually picks up their phone can stop you dead in you tracks.  You’ve repeated the same spiel so many times that your brain shuts down and you blow the call. This is not good. It kills the immediate opportunity and feeds call reluctance.

Then of course there is the issue of incomplete and/or out of date data – another huge time waster.

Then there’s following up each voicemail with an email message- which is necessary, but also the wrong kind of mental activity for a sales person who will normally be at their best when reaching outside of themselves to connect with another human being versus sending an email, updating a database or – dare I add- writing a post for the company blog 😉

But a sales conversation, a real dialogue with a potential customer can leapfrog over 6 months of marketing’ s measured lead generation or nurturing efforts. (hah- I’ll make a lot of friends with that comment!) But, that doesn’t change the fact that its true.

Voicemail messages are important. They will only rarely get a returned call, but are the best “Passive” means available to cut through all the clutter and start (repeat start) to build you case. And they’re the inevitable outcome of many of the dials that are made, so it stands to reason to make the most of the opportunity.

Email messages are important. They fill in information gaps, point people to useful information and offer an easier (more passive) means for a prospect to either tell you that they’re maybe a little interested, or ask you to get lost.

But nothing trumps a conversation. When want to make more sales- you need to have more conversations. (Do I really need to qualify here that you are having these conversations with the right people in the right kinds of companies???)

Here comes the sales message –

With this simple principle in mind, Boxpilot has put together a sales support service that utilizes our guided voicemail, synchronized email,  desk alert and database cleaning capabilities.  T understand how we can help you and/or your sales team have more live conversations with fewer dials, leave voicemail and email  messages that say the right things and clean up your data – just send a message to Sales@Boxpilot.com and we’ll get back to you.

Research or Procrastination?

I was just looking over an earlier post that included a link to 12 Prospecting Rules and one idea stood out –  confusing prospecting research with actual prospecting.

It resonated with me because in my experience, the “need” for precall research, is one of the most frequently cited reasons for not picking up the phone and often nothing more than a thin excuse to rationalize call reluctance.

Just to define the space, I’m talking about telephone calls made to a list where you have a contact name and title in a company that should generally be a good fit for whatever you are selling.  They have not asked for a call so I’m calling this “cold” although that research need often extends to companies who have not necessary asked to be called, but have expressed some interest in a problem you can solve as evidenced by a white paper download. ( I call that a warm lead.)

So what you need to do is pick up the phone and establish contact. That is called prospecting.  But what most people do – is first go to Linkedin and look up the person ( which is just fine- take a minute and do that) and then go to the company website to gain an understanding of the company.  If you ask most reps – certainly the junior ones why they’re doing it, the answer you’ll usually get is that “I don’t want to sound like an idiot”.

You have to ask the juniors because they don’t know better than to tell you that perfect unvarnished truth. They’ll explain that in looking like an idiot they are convinced that it will reflect badly on the company they represent.  So sorry. That’s a crock. Its an ego protector and does not serve the interests of the company.  What serves the interests of the company is to pick up the phone.

So, how do you manage precall research?  First, by understanding it’s purpose, which is NOT to ensure that you can intelligently discuss the company’s recently issued financial statements or their competitive positioning The purpose of precall research is to quickly find a hook to hang your introduction on.

For example, Boxpilot provides a service that has been successfully employed by hundreds of companies to boost their event registrations and attendance conversions, so my precall research goes immediately to look for upcoming conferences, road shows or other events.  We can also help stretch the reach of a sales group- so I’ll quickly check to see if they’re hiring sales people.

I’ll note their main line of business, in case I have some specific client experience in that area.  It’s prospecting research with a purpose and you get no more than 3 minutes, otherwise you’ll find you lose the discipline of a quick specific search and instead fall into the rabbit hole of web research.

 

12 Prospecting Rules

Just a quick post to draw your attention to

12 Most Important Rules for Prospecting

For sales people in smaller organizations and especially for Business Owner/Operators who are pulled in about a million different directions, it makes some very useful points.

My favorite is the cautionary note to be able to separate prospecting/contact research from actual prospecting.  I’ve found over the years that the number one excuse for not picking up a phone and making the call is a lack of prior understanding of the person or company you’re calling on.  I agree that going in blind is tough, so I personally work with a limit of 3  minutes on the website to look for a hook to connect to the call.

Enjoy the read!

What Do Your Peers Think About Cold Calling?

Introduction:

Forums and group discussions are one of the oldest forms of Social Media.  They provide an unbiased insight into the thinking of your peers on a variety of topics, but are also time consuming, intrusive and distracting to follow.
However, for all the drawbacks, they are an outstanding source of information and insight, dealing with questions and problems that resonate with many decision makers. Here’s a look at the comments from both sides of an ongoing discussion.

What Are Your Peers Thinking
Cold Calling –Is it a Dead Technique for Lead Generation?

Background:

Many subjects in sales and marketing create controversy and the viability of cold calling as a lead generation tool is certainly one of them. In this discussion, participants express their beliefs about how effective cold calling is as a lead generation tool from the perspective of making the connection and initiating a conversation with a prospect who has picked up the phone.

The Discussion:

This is what your peers who believe that “cold calling is dead”, have to say:

  • Cold calling isn’t totally dead, yet, but it’s dying. There are more up-to-date ways to develop business leads – such as social marketing.
  • Yes- Cold calling is dead. It is a totally inefficient way to prospect and creates/ignites negative reactions from those who receive a cold call.  Companies who cold call ignore the ability of social media to build real trust and relationships.
  • Yes. Cold calling is a waste of time.  It begins with an awkwardness that hinders an effective presentation.  It might create leads, but they are not leads that will close.
  • Yes.  If you’re offering any type of professional service, cold calling is a poor initial presentation of your “thought leadership”.  Instead of cold calling, you need to be found by people who are already looking for solutions to the problems you can help them with.  Before you engage with a company, you need to first establish your expertise.
  • Yes. “Dumb” cold calling is totally dead. Smiling and dialing to an unfocused list with an “all about our company” message is a total waste of everyone’s time.

Here is what your peers who believe that “cold calling is a valid lead generation tool” have to say:

  • No. Cold Calling can easily be turned into warm calling with the use of good data and a list that has been segmented to provide different discussion outlines for different buyers/problems.
  • No. If you’re calling to offer an executive something that they perceive as valuable, cold calling will never be dead.
  • No. Cold calling isn’t dead, but you must build your initial discussion around a prospect’s external versus internal challenges. The cold call is an important sales starting point.
  • No. Cold calling isn’t dead. Those who claim that Social Media is a total replacement are missing the point that no one single solution or technology will solve every problem.
  • No.  Cold calling makes a personal connection.  Even for business, people buy from other people- it’s timeless, but now more than ever you need a compelling message.
  • No. Cold calling is one part of an overall communication plan.
  • No. Cold calling is still highly effective with the C-Level Executives.
  • No. But you have to be smart about it.  Clean lists and a good message.
  • No. Cold calling isn’t dead and only the people who can’t do it say that it is.
  • No. Cold calling delivers a lot of value when compared to other lead generation activities. You need the telephone contact in order to build one to one relationships, but many companies miss the boat using junior and low wage trainees to do cold calling.  It’s a highly skilled activity and requires a long term effort and commitment.
  • No. Smart cold calling can nurture leads.

Finally, here is a comment  that doesn’t take a side, but adds some great perspective:

It depends on who you want to reach.  I know of a surveyed prospect who gets up to 64 cold calls/sales calls a day and will never pick up the phone for an unknown number. Every one of them is sent to voicemail.  Another executive cites 300 sales pitches a week via email, regular mail and the phone –every one of which is screened. If you start with a clear understanding of your audience you can fine tune your mix of lead generation strategies to fit.