A tired salesperson doing cold calling

What is Cold Calling

In this post, I’m going to explain what cold calling is. 

Cold calling is a very common term in sales and even though it’s not directly related to cold email outreach, it’s useful to know more about the method since sooner or later you’ll have to call someone without having any kind of relationship.

Cold calling is a sales method where the objective is to contact potential customers who have not previously expressed interest in a product or service by picking up the phone and calling them. This is one of the oldest and most widespread forms of sales. The method is often associated with email outreach, and with good reason. There are several similarities between the methods. The biggest difference is that cold calling takes place over the phone, but email outreach takes place via email. 

Cold calling is often also associated with telemarketing because the method of entering into a dialog takes place over the phone.

Cold calling has evolved over time and is now facing both technological challenges and changes in consumer habits.

How does Cold Calling work?

Cold calling involves calling potential customers without prior notice. Typically, the company has a clear idea of who their potential customers are and has acquired a list of them. In the simplest form, you start at the top of the list and call one by one. 

For the vast majority of cold callers, structure is essential in this work. In order to know who you have called, what has been said or agreed, etc. you need some kind of sales system or CRM for control.

Cold calling is often also linked to personal visits from door-to-door salespeople. The reason for this is that whether you call or meet up in person, you are completely dependent on starting from scratch. You don’t have much time and what you say in the first 10-15 seconds is crucial to how the conversation develops. 

Cold callers need to be persistent and have a high tolerance for rejection. The best in the business have spent a tremendous amount of time perfecting their craft and have great discipline. After all, you can’t succeed if you don’t pick up the phone.

The challenges with Cold Calling

Various challenges with cold calling are a familiar issue among salespeople. Not only can it feel painful to call an unknown person from a psychological point of view, but you may find that your call is in no way wanted. In addition to that, cold calling is a numbers game. You have to pick up the phone to succeed!

– «It’s hell, but it has to be done!»

The above quote comes from a good friend of mine who is a very skilled cold caller. He’s been in the industry for many years and has experienced all the challenges of cold calling first hand. 

Cold calling can generate a range of responses, including rapid call termination, rejection and, unfortunately, verbal attacks. When you experience being rejected before you get started, not being treated nicely and, in the worst case, getting a verbal beating, most of us will react emotionally. In addition to the fact that many people have stopped answering the phone when they see an unfamiliar number, this is a tough challenge for most of us.

Has Cold Calling become impossible?

A survey conducted by LinkedIn showed that less than 2 percent of cold calls resulted in a meeting. Unfortunately, I don’t have a link to the study, but I have no doubt that the figures are correct. Another study conducted by Baylor University showed that 209 calls led to only a single meeting or referral.

The reason why I choose to include the studies above is because they are interesting in relation to the challenges surrounding cold calling. But the numbers don’t really have much value if you’re going to use them as a kind of fact or truth. The fact and the truth is that the results will be very different from seller to seller. 

The success rate is heavily dependent on the salesperson’s perseverance and persistence. If you manage to motivate yourself to pick up the phone, make the calls that need to be made and not worry about the challenges you face, the meetings and follow-ups will come. 

Who can benefit from Cold Calling?

In theory, anyone working in sales can use cold calling to get more leads and book meetings. For the sake of simplicity, we can say that if a company sells a product or service, it would be useful to contact new potential customers to potentially enter a sales process.

I might add that cold calling is mainly used in B2B. B2B stands for business to business. 

Examples of who uses Cold Calling

A team of salespeople who, for example, sell ads to a magazine. These salespeople can often be found in a shared sales room where they make cold calls, follow up leads, train and educate themselves to become better salespeople both as a team and individually. 

If you’ve seen the movie «The Wolf of Wall Street», it may actually be quite representative of this type of sales environment. Disregard, of course, that the sellers are out of their minds and selling a very, very shady product 😂

In this movie, we see a group of sellers calling from lists in the hope of selling some very “interesting” stocks. The movie illustrates cold calling as a numbers game, where the number of rejections far exceeds the acceptances. This mirrors reality, where salespeople have to deal with a large number of rejections before they get a positive response.

Another example is a company that sells marketing services. This company might have one or two salespeople calling different companies in different industries to offer services such as Facebook ads, SEO, websites, etc. 

Cold calling should not be your only sales strategy

Cold calling has long been a cornerstone of sales strategies and will probably always be an important strategy for engaging and booking meetings with potential customers. But with the rapid development of technology and changes in consumer behavior, there are other methods that are both very similar to cold calling and just as direct.

In addition, there are smart ways that instead of creating a specific list of prospects, you can use marketing strategies to capture those who are interested.

Here are some modern techniques that can replace the need for cold calling and improve the sales process.

1. Cold Email Outreach

Cold email outreach is an effective method of reaching out to potential customers in a non-intrusive way. It is similar to cold calling in that it relies on identifying a target audience and reaching out to them with clear and concise communication that is personalized.

If you want to know more about what Cold Email Outreach is, read the post:  What is Cold Email Outreach

  1. Identifying your target audience: Find and define a target audience that is likely to benefit from the product or service you offer. For example, you can research industry-specific needs and challenges.
  2. Personalized messages: Customize each email to the industry and/or recipient by including relevant information about their specific situation or challenges. This increases the chance of the email being read and taken seriously.
  3. Clear and concise communication: Make sure your message is clear and concise. The recipient should quickly understand what you’re offering and why it’s valuable to them. Avoid long emails that don’t get read anyway.
  4. Call to action (CTA): Include a clear call to action in every email. This could be an invitation to book a meeting, download a resource or visit your website for more information.
  5. Follow-up: Follow-up is key and increases the chance of response. Many times, a reminder or a new angle can be what’s needed to get attention.
  6. Measurement and Optimization: Use tools to measure response rates and analyze results. Adjust your strategy based on what works best to continuously improve the effectiveness of your cold email campaigns.

Cold email outreach, when done correctly, can be a highly effective method of building new relationships and growing your customer base. However, it requires careful planning, personalization and follow-up to achieve the best results.

2. Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is a strategic approach that focuses on attracting customers through relevant and valuable content, rather than interrupting them with unwanted sales calls. 

This method utilizes the following techniques:

  1. Content marketing: Create quality content such as blogs, videos, e-books, etc that have value for potential customers. For example, you can answer your customer’s questions and solve their problems. This attracts potential customers to your website and builds trust over time.
  2. Search engine optimization (SEO): Optimize your website for search engines so that potential customers find you when they search for relevant products or services. A good SEO strategy ensures that your content ranks high in search results.
  3. Social media: Use platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok, etc to share content, engage with your audience and build a community around your brand. Social media provides a unique opportunity to reach your target audience in a more personalized way.

3. Email marketing

Email marketing is still a great way to reach out to potential customers. Effective email marketing includes:

  1. Newsletter: Send regular updates to your subscribers with valuable content, news about your products and offers.
  2. Segmentation: Divide your email list into different segments based on customer behavior, interests or demographics. This makes it possible to send more targeted and relevant messages.
  3. Automation: Use email automation to send welcome messages, follow-up messages and other triggers based on your customer’s actions on your website. This ensures that every customer gets a personalized experience.

4. Webinars and Online Events

Webinars and online events are a great way to engage potential customers and build trust. These events allow you to demonstrate your expertise and answer questions in real time. But perhaps most of all, you get to know your prospects and they get to know you. 

  1. Live demonstrations: Showcase your products or services in real time and explain how they can solve specific problems customers are facing.
  2. Interactive Q&A: Give potential customers the opportunity to ask questions and get immediate answers, which can increase trust in your brand.
  3. Build your network: Building relationships is extremely valuable. There is no doubt that networking is valuable for doing business now and in the future. 

5. Social Sales

Social selling involves using social media to find and engage prospects, build relationships and ultimately generate sales. This includes:

  1. LinkedIn: Use LinkedIn to identify potential customers and/or business partners. By being active in discussion and sharing your knowledge, you can build good, long-lasting and professional relationships.
  2. Twitter, Facebook, and other social media: Follow conversations related to your industry and participate when relevant. Share valuable content and answer questions to build a strong presence.

6. Chatbots and AI

Technology such as chatbots and artificial intelligence (AI) can help you engage potential customers effectively.

  1. Chatbots: Implement chatbots on your website to answer FAQs, guide visitors and collect contact information. Chatbots can offer instant sales and customer service 24/7.
  2. AI-powered analytics technology: Use AI to analyze customer data and identify the most promising leads. This makes it possible to focus your efforts on the most likely customers.

7. Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing involves collaborating with people who are highly influential in your industry. This is done so that these people with large followings can promote your products or services. This can add credibility and reach a wide audience in an authentic way. 

  1. Find Influencers: Find influencers who have an audience that matches your target audience. This can include bloggers, YouTubers, TikTokers and social media personalities.
  2. Collaborate: Work with influencers to create content that promotes your brand. This can include reviews, sponsored posts, and takeovers of social media accounts.

8. Personalized marketing

Personalized marketing involves creating tailored messages and offers based on customer preferences and behavior. This increases the likelihood of conversion and improves the customer experience.

  1. Data analytics: Use customer data to understand their needs and preferences. This can include purchase history, browsing history and demographic information.
  2. Tailor-made offers: Send customized offers and recommendations that resonate with your customers’ individual needs and interests.

The future of Cold Calling

Cold calling has always been a demanding job for salespeople and probably always will be. For many people, cold calling is associated with a great deal of psychological pain 😀 

In modern times, it has become increasingly difficult to cold call. The fact that it requires a lot of calls made every day and a strong personality that can’t be shaken means that many people can’t be bothered to do it for a long time. 

While cold calling still has a place in certain industries, the most effective sales strategies of the future are likely to combine the best of both traditional and digital methods. 

For example, using cold email outreach instead of having to call absolutely everyone will give you faster results and you won’t have to talk to all those who for various reasons don’t want to engage. This, combined with one or more of the methods mentioned above in the text, could mean that you don’t become completely dependent on cold calling.

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