Cold Calling is Dead
When the Internet, then email, then social media came along to transform the way people and businesses communicate, the “death of the sales representative” was widely and broadly predicted. Even Neil Rackham, creator of SPIN Selling asserted in 2010 that by 2015 the number of sales jobs will be reduced from 18 million to only 10 million.
Buyers it was assumed would get all the information they need from company websites, product review sites and peer-to-peer rating sites, then call an order taker. In fact, the frequently cited research on the modern B2B buyer by CEB’s sales practice shows that 57% of purchasing process is spent collecting information on products and alternatives before reaching out to a sales representative.
However, far from making sales skills being obsolete, the volume of information available to buyers has made strong sales skills more important. They are key to building buyer engagement, differentiating, and positioning value. The king of all sales skills is cold calling focused on generating new opps with very early stage prospects.
Long Live Cold Calling
Many sales teams prefer “more efficient” email blasts. However, in a complex buying environment the phone is king in driving new meetings. A study by Salesforce found that phone-based outreach delivered a 8.21% response rate compared to .03% response for email, making phone outreach 274 times more effective.
Our experience at Winalytics is that more than 50% of 1st meetings are set as a result of phone outreach. Phone outreach can be used to secure live call connects to prospects, to ask administrative support for help scheduling or to use voicemails that put a human at the end of our email messaging.
Cold calling has changed, however. No longer is it about using a high volume of outreach to drive buyer awareness. Now more than ever it is about inviting prospects into a value-added conversation.
High Value Call Connect and Voicemails
So, what are your best practices for call connects and voicemails that builds a prospects readiness for a 1st call. We suggest the following five:
- Be transparent by starting with your name and your company’s name
- Build familiarity by sharing a point of connection that lead you to reach out, for example:
- I was following up on an event
- We have a peer in common
- I was calling to see if we are focusing on the same challenges
- Lead with a question on a buyer challenge and then ask for time to share more, for example
- “Are you considering new approaches to scale the impact of your training investments? If so, can I take a minute or less to share our approach?”
- “Are you looking for ways to focus and optimize your marketing spend? If so, can I in under a minute give you an overview of strategies we’ve seen work?”
- Pivot to a quick elevator pitch, if you get a positive response, give a 20- to 30-second overview of problem your company solves and your unique approach
- Qualify with a call to action to see if you have enough engagement to secure a meeting, for example:
- Could we schedule more time?
- Would you be open to speaking to my Director?
While cold calling skills need to focus less on large-scale outreach and more on engaging into a value-added conversation, the reality is that cold call skills are more important than ever.