With a lot of small businesses losing regular customers and trusted ways of engagement, many are looking for more ways to reach out to potential buyers or clients that also doesn't cost a pretty penny.
So you may also be wondering, is cold calling dead? Well the truth to that is NO, it's not.
Not so long ago cold calling used to be one of the best, and only, ways to gain new potential customers for the gunning salesperson.
But over time, so many new alternatives arrived and with the age of the internet and digital marketing, many soon forgot about the effectiveness of cold calling. You may think that cold calling isn't effective and even irritating for that person on the other end but 82% of buyers say they have accepted meetings with salespeople after a series of contacts beginning with sales cold calls (Small Biz Genius).
So with this in mind, you really can't afford to push cold calling to the side without a comprehensive look into what it can really offer you.
In this blog post, we'll dive into comparing warm and cold calling and how to assess the prospects you'll call out to. We'll also focus on how to make calls more productive, less intrusive and valuable for you and your prospect.
So again, is cold calling really dead? No - but the techniques or sales pitches we used 40 years ago are. Let's explain.
You need to finesse your cold calling strategy so it's actually a friendly, value proposition rather than asking directly for money (which is what a lot of people still do).
So when it comes to cold vs warm calling, how do we assess the difference?
'Warm Calling' is a call you make with a prospect that you already have a relationship with or established some sort of contact with. You may have already connected with them on LinkedIn, they may have commented on one of your social media posts or a mutual acquaintance introduced you two.
'Cold Calling' refers to calling a potential customer or client that you have never made a previous connection with before making the call. This is the type of calling that's up for debate. Many individuals and businesses have put their numbers on the 'Do Not Call List' and usually don't take to being interrupted in their day with a phone call. Paired with this, it is usually our most dreaded form of marketing or sales process with the direct threat of getting rejected or abused over the phone so imminent.
So How Do We Achieve Success With Cold Calling?
Success comes from the offer. The first step to taking on any cold calling campaign for your business is having an honest think about how YOU would like to be sold to if it was the other way around. Now, please keep in mind that our suggested techniques in cold calling selling is tailored very much to B2B marketing and not B2C. If you're a company specialising in customer acquisition and not fellow businesses, well we're not sure that cold calling would be your best suited ally. The reason for this is that regular, everyday people especially loath cold calls. Think about the last call you got from Optus, Telstra or Energy Australia who called you out of the blue trying to get you to pay them to upgrade your plan - you probably didn't love that right? Well that's B2C Cold Calling.
So with the above in mind, how would you like a business to sell to your business? What could your business really need right now and what is your bottom line?
For example, if you're a business owner who has been cold called by an accounting firm offering their bookkeeping service to you, which one of these below calls feels like a better pitch for you (the buyer)?
"Hi, this is Brad calling from XYZ Accountants, we offer specialised services in small business bookkeeping and accounting services for business owners such as yourself and I'd like to take a moment of your time to discuss how we can help you today."
OR Example 2: "Hi, this is Brad calling from XYZ Accountants, my team has put together a free financial assessment of your business and I'm just wondering who would be the best person to discuss this with?"
So which one do you like better? Which one would you be more likely to continue giving your time to?? Most people said Example 2 was the cold call they felt much more comfortable with as both a salesperson AND as a prospect. Why do you think that is? Well it all comes down to the offer.
The start of both examples begin exactly the same, they sound salesy and the prospect already knows what they're in for - no bait and switch there. However, the turn to offering something that has already be custom made for them, for free and ready to be assessed is an incredible offer that most business owners or gatekeepers would be too curious to deny.
Offering your future prospect something that you 'prepared earlier' shows that you have taken time out of your day to research and assess them (they're not just some number on a call list) and that you're already invested in improving their business and want a relationship - not just their money!
I can't over hype just how well this technique works. We use this very same technique when we cold call our prospects. We always offer a free, new website preview to a potential client we want to grow with and 9 times out of 10 we always get a future appointment scheduled in that very first call. It is extremely rare anyone ever turns us down for that next appointment and to see the website preview.
Yes this technique takes more time, research and dedication to the sale but it's worth it because we guarantee this will get your business more B2B sales and is simply just a more enjoyable experience for both the salesperson and the buyer.
Cold Calling Presentation & Etiquette
So you've got your offer in place - how do you sell it? Well, the biggest etiquette component to cold calling is localisation and mannerisms. So what do we mean by this? The way you present yourself to someone who you are meeting for the first time gives way to the same principals needed to be followed over the phone with some exceptions.
In the early 2000s, we started to see a lot of large companies employ or create their own cold calling centres that exploited third world countries for their cheap labour and poor worker's rights regulations. They would outsource their cold calling to people living in India, Phillipines, Indonesia and the like, paying them just $20 (if that) for reaching over 300 customers on the phone each day. Not only is this a disgusting practice for a business but it also paved way for a deep miscommunication between prospects and cold call agents where we now identify these particular accents with 'unwanted solicitation' or even 'scam calls'.
This disrupted to the relationship between businesses and their prospects, and cemented this idea that cold calling is unethical or unhelpful to both buyers and sellers. Even worse, it has made it harder for immigrant families who run their own businesses to participate with cold calling as they may have similar accents to those that are now 'shunned', but I digress.
Accents and the 'localisation' of a cold call have become incredibly - some might argue the most - important element to a successful cold call campaign. Prospects need to feel as though they are talking to a mate down the street, so if you are gunning for a business in a certain area then you need to sound like you're from that area.
Now in Australia, that's a pretty simple practice. Most of our 'Aussie' accents sound pretty similar from state to state with the exception of some country or city accents differing, so it shouldn't be too hard to be that 'happy go lucky Aussie' salesperson you need to be for most businesses. However in the States and UK this can vary a lot more from state to state or county to county, so that may require a bit more research and finesse. The take away is you always want to hire cold callers from the local area you want to sell to. If you're in that local area than ever better! Hire yourself, it'll be cheaper.
Never hire people from another country to do your cold calls, whether that be from the United States, New Zealand, Phillipines, India, Germany or where-ever you can think of because people like localisation. Trust us, your conversions will be insanely higher.
Tone Of Voice
When calling, it's really important to show your prospect that you're a relaxed, friendly and no pressure kind of person. In regular, warmer sales pitches we always try to be more self-assured and confident, pushing for that close. However in cold calling you must remember that the prospect you're talking with NEVER gave you permission to contact them, let alone ask them for money. So you'll need to take a more friendly and relaxed vibe for this pitch.
For example, if you mess up on a name pronunciation or something small, have a laugh and make a little joke like "Oh that's my bad, haven't had my morning coffee yet!" Sounds a bit daggy but it drastically lowers the guard of the prospect because you are already willing to admit your mistakes AND you act like an actual REAL PERSON not just a robot running lines.
If your prospect pushes back and says something like "Wait what's this about??", make sure you're not defensive nor do you give away too much information. Say with a very chilled tone of voice and a casual reply of "Yeah, no worries, so my team had a look at your business and was really impressed by XYZ so we created this FREE [whatever offer it is] that we thought might be useful to you."
It's all about averting the sales tone and just having a decent, casual conversion with someone because you're genuinely interested in improving their business with whatever it is you provide. Just treat them the way you would want to be treated.
The final most important element to your call presentation is your call etiquette. There's not too many hard and fast rules because of course this will change from prospect to prospect and business to business but there are some guidelines you'll need to follow.
Don't call before 10am, at lunchtime or after 4pm.
This is not any kind of legal parameter but just a general rule of thumb we've found works well for us in our B2B cold calling. Most businesses operate from 9-5pm and so we've found that calling between 9am-10am or 4pm-5pm doesn't work so great.
At 9am, people are just getting settled into work, they might be stilling drinking their coffee or eating their cereal or even putting out a fire that has already popped up for the day. Similar with after 4pm, people are wrapping up for the day, writing their to-do lists for tomorrow and getting excited to get home and see their family, play Xbox or hang out with their friends. Therefore, none of them want to talk to a random person asking for their business in these times.
Also try not to call during lunch time for obvious reasons. Lunch time for many workers or business owners is that little moment during the day they have for just themselves and can take a time out. Don't be a dick and interrupt that - let them eat their sandwich.
Don't call on weekends.
This is an obvious one, but don't call businesses outside of their operating hours - even if you have the owner's mobile number, that's just dodgy practice and you will not be successful with it. There are some exceptions to this of course with some businesses operating on the weekend but generally stick to weekdays if you can.
Don't harass a business.
This is something salespeople still continue to do even though it should be a no brainer. If you call once in the morning and they don't pick up then don't call another 3 times back to back. Wait until later in the afternoon or even the following day. Spamming and harassing a business just to get on a call with them is not a technique that works and it's super stressful for their team to hear the phone going off whilst they're dealing with whatever they're dealing with! If they're not answering the phone, they're likely running their actual business...
Be nice to gatekeepers.
It is really important to be super friendly, honest and helpful to the receptionist or gatekeeper on the line. They are never above or below you and they can offer really helpful answers for you to better assess the prospect. Not only that but if you get in their good books they can give you a really strong recommendation to their boss, turning that cold lead just a little more warm.
So that's it! That is literally all you need to know to get started with your cold calling campaign. The hardest thing you'll find is overcoming that fear of the first call and the idea of rejection but honestly if you stick to our above recommendations you really won't be rejected a whole lot. If you do, people tend to be quite polite when they decline your offer, if you've already shown them the same courtesy.
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