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The dictionary definition of cold calling is: “a telephone call soliciting business made directly to a potential customer without prior contact or without a lead”. If you have been a part of a cold calling campaign, be it the caller or the prospect, it’s easy to see that neither one likes doing it.”

In an age when phones are no longer attached to walls or desks and everyone has caller ID, people are less likely to answer to unfamiliar numbers. Even if they do answer, the caller would have to navigate through extensions, operating systems, and voicemails resulting in a very low ROI.

You don’t have to look far or wide to uncover the poor metrics in of cold calls to appointments, or even cold calls to conversations for that matter. Not only is cold calling annoying for recipients, it’s emotionally draining for assigned employees. With every phone call made the employee feels they are causing an inconvenience and have to brace themselves for a certain level of backlash. As this is such a mentally taxing task, it can lead to a drop in productivity as they feel that all time spent calling unreceptive prospects was a waste.

Through our Cold Calling Is Dead – What To Do Instead content piece we established that cold calling is not the most efficient way to reach customers. BUT that doesn’t mean calling should stop all together. Rather than bothering prospects with your services, you want to attract them to your brand and focus on interested and engaged buyers as opposed to grabbing a phone book and calling every person from A-Z.

When you have the right data, and the right analytics and insight in-front of you, outbound sales calls can still extremely effective in reaching prospects and bringing them closer to a purchase decision as nothing beats having a real one to one conversation with a prospect.

For calling to be profitable, you need to take cold out of the calling and PRE HEAT the phone call.

You can do this by following four steps:

1.   Only ever cold call, your lists of engaged but unresponded prospects

2.   Do your research pre-call

3.   Work on your script

4.   Train your team

Before calling anyone, always put yourself in the shoes of the ideal prospects you are trying to reach. Only call prospects who fit the ideal characteristics. No matter how good of a sales person you are, if they don’t fit in to these characteristics, you’ll be wasting time trying to reach them and they’ll be unlikely to want to book an appointment with you.

Targeting the key decision makers is another important aspect of deciding who should go on the list of prospects to call. More often than not, people try to book meetings with employees who are too far down the ladder. If you are not speaking with a qualified decision maker, chances are, they’re not going to have the authority to book a meeting or buy whatever product you’re pitching.

Your cold call list should only ever be made up of prospects that have triggered events from your marketing activity i.e. opened emails, , downloads, site visits, click throughs etc. Since they have already shown some curiosity towards the business, they have signaled that they are interested and keen to chat.

2.   Do Your Research

Prospects today are busy and constantly being bombarded with sales tactics left, right and centre. If you want to stand out and truly get their attention, showing that you have done your research can go a long way.

Research should be one of the first steps when calling a prospect but it is often the one most often ignored. By knowing your target audience and their preferred contact methods, it’s easier to make them more receptive to the product you’re pitching and also helps you pitch your product in a way that might help them with problems they already have. For example, you can look them up on LinkedIn and find out their previous job roles and what they have been involved in. Researching their company’s website can give a better indication of how your product or meeting with them can benefit them, allowing you to craft your approach to result in a productive conversation.

3.   Work on your script

Calling the most qualified leads and researching them will help the caller to have a better flow of conversation and engage the prospect. Too often the calls that are made instantly launch into a scripted speech which instantly makes the alarm bells ring in the prospects mind that you’re trying to sell them something.

 Instead of a generic approach, create one which will:

·     Tell them who you are to reduce the sense of unfamiliarity

·     Explain why you are calling them to establish relevance

·     Ask them questions to get them involved in the conversation

·     Show you have done your homework and explain how you can help solve their problems specifically

·     Show how you have solved problems similar to theirs

Remember that the goal of your call is not to close a sale. This is important because making the prospect feel like they’re being pigeon holed into buying something or making a decision right away can cause them to run in the opposite direction. It also reduces the pressure on the employee that they don’t have to close a deal right away. The goal of the sales call should be to set face to face meetings or have some type of introductory conversation. It is the foot in the door and not the entrance to the room.

4.   Train your team

Practice makes perfect so coach your team regularly on the different ways a conversation during a call can go, until it is perfected. Train your team to make the most efficient use of resources such as Linkedin and the internet to build up a rapport with prospects that makes them comfortable and sound less like a sales pitch. In cases where the prospect does not answer, a good idea would be to come up with a winning voicemail to leave behind that encourages the prospect to call back.

Although traditional cold calling is dead, calling in an effective way is still essential to impact sales. By targeting qualified leads, taking time to do research and focusing on the ones who have had some previous interaction with your company, it’s a sure-fire way of increasing the number of booked appointments.

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