Most days you’ll see at least one post on the internet asking if cold calling is dead. Interestingly, the question is always asked by someone outside the sales team.
In the last decade, digital marketing has transformed sales and marketing, meeting the buyer where they are at specific points on their journey to becoming a customer.
Some companies have almost got rid of their sales team, focusing instead on digital marketing.
With Covid-19 resulting in lockdowns all over the world and an economy in freefall, large ‘unnecessary’ purchases are being put on ice. Customers are ‘sitting on their hands’, holding back from making decisions while they wait to see what happens.
‘Has the digital marketing journey stopped? No. Your customers are still researching, interacting with your brand, engaging with your content. It is an excellent time to build brand awareness, deepen customer relationships and engagement and grow your market share. However, many customers are simply not ready to buy.
This is a critical time of year with July being the beginning of what is usually a more stable period. In the Southern Hemisphere, July would usually mean we are well into budgets for the new financial year (whether your financial year starts April or July). Prior to the Christmas quarter, this is a time when sales should be flowing.
July 2020 is very different. After three months without decent sales, many business owners urgently need cashflow to pump more life into their business. New Zealand’s general election is set for 17 September, which can also lead some customers to ‘wait and see’ until after the election.
Your sales could be at a critical level. Has your business bank account has been frozen in time since lockdown? If so, a strategic sales approach to the right person at the right time is an excellent idea.
And because it is so direct, the phone is a key part of your strategy.
When new hires are no longer given access to a phone, but just a Zoom account (or whatever technology we are currently using) – then the phone could be said to be dead.
Until that time, the phone is a key part of your sales strategy. Ignore it at your peril.
HAS YOUR SALES TEAM BECOME DE-SKILLED?
The last decade has, on reflection, been an amazing time for sales. In a buoyant economy, salespeople can rely on a steady stream of positive customer leads through the company website, gently warmed by the digital marketing specialists.
If your website leads have stopped or slowed, you need your salespeople to do what you have employed them for.
You need them to proactively sell. For some salespeople who have never sold in a difficult market, they may need sales training and support if this is the first time they have had to proactively approach customers.
Yes, it’s time to make friends with the phone again.
WHAT IS ‘COLD CALLING’?
Traditional cold calling evokes ghastly images of badly trained salespeople, phone glued to their ear, frantically starting at ‘A’ in the yellow pages and just calling everyone in alphabetical order.
Those tacky kinds of cold calls that make us all squirm are out of fashion. Proper business development is much more sophisticated and strategic.
If you are going to cold call someone, i.e. call someone you’ve never met or spoken to before, you need to stack the odds firmly in your favour by making it a ‘warm call’.
MAKING IT A ‘WARM CALL’
The internet might be confusing some people, making them think that phones are useless in sales. Put that aside. The internet is your greatest source of market intel so that you are ready for that conversation with your new prospective customer.
It’s time to research. Going past page one of your google search will often yield the best results.
Remember it’s not just a numbers game. When you get through to the exact decision-maker and can speak, you do not want to waste that moment. The research you discover in just 10 minutes on the internet will help ensure that your call is timely and relevant, so that your prospect is receptive to continuing the conversation.
What can you find out? Loads!
- Their place in the market
- Latest customer reviews
- Their biggest customer challenges
- Public failings, even court cases
- Other competitors
- Industry changes, including upcoming legislation
- Their email address
- Their mobile phone number
Basically, if you know how to search, you will flush up even the most hidden details from the depths of the internet.
Once you have your information from the internet, think about how your product/service solves the problems that you know they are struggling with. This is now your sales pitch for that customer.
DEPLOYING A MULTI-CHANNEL APPROACH
Your customers access multiple communication channels.
- Using social media
- Reading news articles (online and paper-based),
- Talking on Zoom and Microsoft Teams
- Reading emails
- Making phone calls
- Sending texts
- Posting on LinkedIn
The phone is not the only solution. But it is not something you want to discard. Especially in very practical industries where some decision-makers still don’t like email very much.
You may need a different sales strategy for each of your market verticals. For some, the phone will be vital. For others, the phone will be less important, perhaps even not appropriate.
Your best approach is probably a well-thought cadence using the phone, LinkedIn, texts, and Zoom/Microsoft teams.
SALES AND MARKETING ALIGNMENT WILL HELP YOU WIN
With budgets threatened and company-wide cuts looming, it is understandable that some people forget that a united team will be the ultimate victor.
Instead of allowing Sales and Marketing to fight over who should stay and who should go, try to think how you can blend the skills from both disciplines into the multi-talented team with a single-minded purpose to put your business at the top of your industry.
Keep your wider marketing strategies and brand building efforts going. Just remember those decision-makers you want to reach all have a mobile phone. If someone’s going to call them, make sure it’s you.