Cold Calling Doesn’t Have to Be Cold

Do some of work

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Some have declared cold calling “dead,” believing the last thing people want in the era of caller ID and internet sleuthing is outreach from people they don’t even know.

Leap Job, in fact, found that only 2 percent of cold calls result in a booked appointment. Its data showed that more than six hours — and more than eight dial-ups — went into prospecting that one converted call. That’s a lot of time, energy, and money for a single appointment that may or may not result in a sale.

But part of the problem is that most salespeople are set up to keep cold calls, well, cold. They’re treated as isolated moments of targeting leads from lists, but few people respond to transactional approaches. Implisit reviewed hundreds of companies’ B2B sales pipelines and found those channels where the wheel had been greased a bit — via social media, the company website, or referrals — had the most success.

Cold calling can use those same resources to be more successful, too.

Your Delivery During the Sale Matters

Too many sales teams are structured to work quickly, focusing on hooking a lead and dragging him or her down the funnel before releasing the prospect-turned-customer into the wild (aka working with the internal team). While quotas need to be met and companies need new blood to keep pumping, this kind of structure downplays the human element of sales.

Fast-moving cold call procedures leave prospects feeling less than warm. It’s clear that the salesperson is running through a checklist and making sure to get the whole spiel in. Armed with sales collateral to counter any objection the prospect may raise, these salespeople sometimes don’t actually hear the prospect. And that’s a big issue: What’s not being said is often as important as what is being said.

The delivery during the sales phase is considered a harbinger of things to come — if a company is motivated by self-interest and a quick pace while wooing, what’s the post-honeymoon phase like? Yikes.

Here are a few ways to inject some warmth into a team’s sales efforts — and see a payoff:

1. Consider how your audience wants to be spoken to. Jeff Winters, the CEO of Sapper Consulting, a company focused on driving high-quality leads and sales, explained that when it comes to cold outreach, “the key is that the focus isn’t from the perspective of a salesperson or marketing person.”

Instead, he recommends cold calling be approached like a TV writer or an improv comedian — entertainers win more engagement than businesspeople do. By focusing on storytelling, humor, and clever phrasing, you’re ensuring that your recipient is entertained and curious, even if it doesn’t ultimately end in a sale. That will make them view a company warmly if the need does arise later — or they know someone who could use the company’s services.

2. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Winters also recommends going beyond calls to incorporate emails and social media platforms like LinkedIn or Twitter. This isn’t “cheating” on cold calls; it’s acknowledging that different people respond to different types of interactions. Using a wide variety of tactics increases the odds that you’ll connect with someone on his or her level, which is the real goal of sales.

You can also use these tactics in tandem. Someone who didn’t return a cold call voicemail may respond to a clever email instead — he now has a better sense of your voice and your offering, and he thinks he’d like to learn more. This is a great way to put the humanity of sales front and center; it’s a lot harder to turn away someone who’s started to take on three dimensions and become familiar.

3. Use social listening. HubSpot found that salespeople and prospects disagreed on how well prepared sales professionals were. While 77 percent of salespeople felt they’d researched their potential clients well — and 71 percent felt they’d delivered a strong pitch in line with that — only 44 percent and 37 percent of prospects agreed, respectively.

By more closely tracking what people are saying online — to friends on social media, to strangers on review sites, or to people responding to ads — sales teams can get a much better idea of what prospects truly need and want. More context results in more transparent interactions, and simply engaging people who may not answer their phone can warm up what would otherwise be a very cold encounter.

4. Let your website do some of the work. One easy way companies screw up a good thing is by failing to provide a consistent experience throughout. If a cold call successfully brought a lead to your website, but the website’s copy felt clinical and distant compared to the warm salesperson on the phone, what are the chances that person will stick around? Pretty darn low.

Instead, make sure your website reflects the welcoming and open delivery your salespeople are trying to achieve. By making sure your homepage and landing pages provide visitors with the same positive vibes they’ll get from direct interactions with your team, you’ll smooth the path to conversion without your team physically saying a thing.

Cold calling, by the strictest definition, may not do much to warm people’s hearts. But combining old-school cold calling tactics with more modern touches — like cultivating an entertaining tone, using various platforms, investing in social listening, and designing a welcoming website — can transform cold calls into balmy banter.

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