Is Cold Calling Still an Ideal Method of Generating Sales Leads?
I get asked a lot about cold calling.
The topic takes me back in time to the late 1990s, when I was sitting behind a desk in a mid-level IT management role. I had subscribed to a couple of ‘free’ magazines, meaning that in exchange for providing information about our IT systems I received a twelve-month subscription to the magazine. Puffy chested like I was, I made my job sound one level higher than it was and my spending authority seem a few zeros more than it was.
Within a month, my phone began to ring. Most of the cold calls I received—until I asked the telephone company to change my number—were highly interruptive in nature. The caller spent about thirty seconds on fake relationship building (yes, including the fake laugh) and then went for the jugular.
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For the majority of us, the idea of picking up the phone and calling someone we don’t know for the sole purpose of talking about our product of service is daunting.
And rightfully so. It is not natural. It is interruptive. It is like picking up a handful of rocks and tossing them into a crowd of people. Everyone is looking ahead and then they suddenly get whacked with rocks; they didn’t see it coming.
A sales maggot can choose to believe that it’s a good thing, because it woke the prospect up so that he or she can be sold to. However, for the majority of us, throwing a bunch of rocks at people does not feel good. There must be a better way.
Thankfully, today we are living in a different time. Along with the door-to-door sales technique, the interruptive nature of the cold call seems to have gone away. Some cold calling still happens but the approach has evolved, and for that most salespeople and customers are thankful.
So, maybe you’re an entrepreneur or someone fairly new in a sales role. How can you generate leads without interrupting people?
How to generate leads without being interruptive
1) Build your personal brand
Offer value in the form of articles and free downloads, such as checklists, white papers, and scorecards, on your website.
Build your online presence as an expert in your field. Put your authentic voice behind your brand.
Include in your posts calls to action, such as requests to be contacted, requests for the reader to sign up for your newsletter, and links to download supplementary material.
Email is by far the best form of permission-based marketing available today. If you did not do this last year, the best time to start is today.
2) Travel the aisles where people gather who have a problem that you can solve
LinkedIn is a great place where professionals network with each other. Consider it as divided into niches, or groups.
LinkedIn’s publishing platform, including the comments area, is a great place for you to build relationships.
Many people do not believe that other social media platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, are the same. But think about it more. They’re identical. Obviously, local, face-to-face networking events are a must, but I consider social media opportunities the low hanging fruit.
3) Use strong customer service to get referrals
The best sources of new business are your existing clients, for whom providing top-notch service. Ask them, “Do you know anyone with the same problem I helped you solve?”
If they do, ask them, “Would you mind introducing me?”
4) Lead with a casual email
Some of the best new business opportunities that I have drummed up have come from the following approach:
- Use LinkedIn to find a person who you believe has a problem that you can solve.
- Connect, and grow a relationship with that person. What area of life do you have in common? Find it, and grow it. Bridge the electronic communication by arranging a phone call.
- When you travel, use LinkedIn to find a person who may have a problem that you can solve and then send him or her a casual email invitation to go out for coffee. You may want to include in the email that you’re with company X and you ‘may’ have some services that can help, but keep the tone of the email very casual.
- In the phone call or coffee meeting, listen for 70% of the time and talk for only 30% of the time. Only 20% of the initial conversation should be about business. Spend the other 80% simply getting to know each other. Land and expand.
It is my belief that everyone can use these ideas to grow a business. You don’t have to be a sales maggot to put these actions to work for you.
So, if your mental image of sales includes cold calling, my suggestion is to change that mental image. Put to rest the idea of calling someone you don’t know for the sole purpose of introducing your product of service.
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