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How to Move Your Sales Cold Calling Techniques into the 21st Century

Despite now dealing in a more connected and faster paced world than ever before, the evidence shows that people desire a more personalized sales process. The art of buildingsales relationships through an emotional intelligence approach is only one piece of the jigsaw. The process that will ignite sales begins a long time before, and now requires sales cold calling techniques that dovetail with modern technology.

The Argument against cold calling

Within sales teams there is constant debate about the value of cold calling. Increasingly, we hear from sales team leaders that the practice is defunct. We’re told that no salesperson likes making a cold call, and no prospective customer wants to receive them. We’re also told that the ROI on cold calling is almost zero.

On this last point, a2011 study by Baylor University’s Keller Center for Research appears to back up the negligible ROI claim. Its research team studied a sample of more than 6,200 cold calls and found that:

  • 28% were answered

  • 55% were unanswered

  • 17% were numbers no-longer working

Further, it found that out of every 209 calls made, one appointment or referral was made.  Breaking these numbers down further:

  • 150 calls out of every 209 were bad (unanswered or non-working numbers)

  • 59 calls were answered

  • A total of 7.5 hours were need to make 209 cold calls

Extrapolating from this, it’s possible to work out the ROI for cold calling efforts. The reason that so many sales team leaders believe cold calling a waste of time is twofold:

  • First, it’s time consuming and mundane work to make a single appointment

  • Second, with the greater connectivity and internet usage by customers many sales managers and business strategies lean toward inward marketing as a replacement for traditional sales techniques

 

Sales cold calling techniques: the mistakes

Even though one appointment or referral in 209 cold calls may provide a good ROI (dependent on other factors such as appointment conversion rates and average sales volumes), there is still the argument that this ROI requires a lot of work that is, on the face of it, wasted.

This, however, brings us to the need to combine new age technology into sales cold calling techniques. The real issue is not that cold calling doesn’t work, but that most salespeople do it badly. The reasons for this have their foundations in the traditional view of cold calling:

  • It’s a numbers game

  • Everyone is a prospect

  • Practice at rejection begets better results

  • Eventually someone will say yes

 

The recipe for increasing ROI from cold calling

Restaurants have become increasingly innovative as the world has become smaller. Fifty years ago our choice of food was mostly traditional American with, of course, certain regional variations. As our country became more diverse in nature, so we experienced foods from Asia, Europe, and South America. Eventually these different foods and cooking styles fused together to create innovative dining (think Tex-Mex, Pan-Asian, Euro-Asian, Italian American, etc.). Now, these fusion restaurants are some of the most popular around the world.

The first mistake that most sales teams make is not qualifying their sales leads before cold calling. Sales teams have plenty to learn from the fusion of different worlds and different skills.

 

1.     Decide why a target will be interested in you and your products/services

The salesperson should first qualify the needs of a prospect. Investigate a prospect’s needs and challenges by knowing the industry in which they operate. Understand the prospect by researching their history, their mission, and their customers.


This is the first stage of reducing a cold call list to a targeted quadrant.

 

2.     Use technology to its best advantage and create a targeted list

The information needed to get to know a customer is easily accessible on the web. Use applications like LinkedIn, company websites, and even Facebook pages to further qualify prospects and their needs.

Part of this will be to drill down to discovering the person that should be spoken to, and knowing them at a ‘personal’ level before making a call.

Now armed with need and knowledge of contact – maybe it will be a plant manager, CFO, HR director, or senior IT or marketing executive with budgetary control – the salesperson should prepare a personalized pitch for the cold call.

 

3.     Prioritize the reason for the cold call

Be prepared to discuss the needs and challenges that the prospect faces. Put this in the context of their business and their industry segment. Pitch the product or service offered as a solution to their problems. Be compelling, relevant, and focused.


Remember that the point of the call is to make only one close: get an appointment. To do that effectively, the efficient salesperson will manage his or her cold calling list by utilizing every tool at his or her disposal, fusing modern methods with traditional skills. The result will be sales cold calling techniques fit for success in the 21st century.


In future articles in this series, we’ll look in more detail at issues such as qualifying leads and customer needs analysis. Meanwhile, to discover how Forward Focus will help your sales teams ignite their sales, contact us now to discuss the Integrity Selling Course.

 

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