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Cold calling – Quo Vadis?

Way back in the early days of GPS systems, you had to stick a clunky piece of equipment to  your car’s windscreen. Auntie Brenda (or that’s what I call her) used to tell you exactly where to go and you could sit back and enjoy the scenery. Auntie Brenda would communicate with the satellites and relay directions to you in a not-so-soothing voice. Before you knew it, your “destination was on the left”. These days things work more or less the same, bar the clunky device that suction-cups to your window – just a tad more elegant.

With these older generation GPS systems, you also had to frequently update your maps (it happens automatically these days) to make sure that Auntie Brenda was kept in the loop. Most marketing strategies are exactly the same but unfortunately, they still have Auntie Brenda in charge! And cold calling is just as clunky as Aunty Brenda.

Is your cold calling marketing strategy a trap?

As a salesperson who is part of the marketing department, the roadmap to marketing success and the GPS with coordinates on how to get to your target audience is contained in that bastion of marketing genius – the marketing strategy. It is the playbook and gospel of how to get to those illusive clients and turning them into paying customers. But what if your GPS keeps repeating “recalculating”?

What could be the problem? Well, if the sales people are forced to cold call then your marketing strategy is simply not working.

Most marketing strategies have lost the plot, or the map in a very specific area – sales prospecting!

Sales prospecting is the very first step in the sales process but is often neglected when companies put their marketing strategies together.

If your marketing strategy has never received the updates and is operating on the assumption that cold calling still works, you are in for a nasty surprise. Hanging onto the idea that you can cold call a stranger on a sunny Tuesday morning to sell them life insurance and that your call will be well received is just nuts. This type of thinking will lead your marketing GPS down a very dark, lonely and unprofitable garden path.

Updating the way you prospect for leads may be the difference between success and abject failure. Moreover, who still wants to do it? Cold calling is the single most unpleasant thing that I can think of spending my valuable time doing. Aunty Brenda would agree.

Picking cherries

When sales prospecting for potential customers, what is it that you really need to know? Your marketing strategy needs to point out which group of people are most likely to buy your goods or services. Then you need to sift through this group to get to the ones who will be able to decide on whether to buy from you. It is fun to target CEOs but if you actually need to talk to the procurement manager, then the CEO is just a guy with a fancy tie. Accurate targeting is the name of the game.

Then find out what their pain is and whether your product or service could be the cure. At this stage in the prospecting process It is unnecessary to know the roleplayers as individuals. Many industries have shared pain points so it is relatively easy to find out where the snags are. Then carefully plan on precisely who needs the pain relief that your product or service can offer. Consider starting with a headline that they cannot ignore. We call this a Captivating One-liner and you can read some more about it here. When you cold call, or more correctly warm call, you already know the customers pain… and they know who you are!

Importantly, you also want to make sure that they can actually afford your product or service. Everybody wants to drive a Ferrari, but not everyone can afford it. Prospect only in a target market that won’t waste your time!

These questions need to be asked even before you storm into the marketplace like a bull in a china shop. The fact is that you need to know exactly who you will invite to the sales prospecting party. Only once you have gone through this deep-thought exercise, can you step into the marketplace with laser sharp focus. Now you don’t have to feel like someone at an all-you-can-eat buffet, losing your appetite before taking the first bite because you are so overwhelmed by the sheer number of dishes. You now know precisely who will be there, what they need, and what you have to offer. Cold calling becomes warm calling becomes easy.

Please don’t be THAT guy

Yes, sales prospecting is hard work if done manually. Cold calling is much harder. Put the work into proper prospecting and it is possible to sell ice to an Eskimo! But you first have to do the legwork and get to know said Eskimo. If your marketing strategy assumes that anyone who wears a white fur suit is an Eskimo it makes sense to suggest cold calling to make contact. But, you know what they say about assumption – so what cold calling cannot predict is whether your overly friendly but random and untimely call may just end up leading you straight into the jaws of a hungry polar bear.

The Sales Prospecting Software

You have hundreds of LinkedIn connections and you cannot reach out and nurture all of them.  You certainly cannot cold call them all. Lead generation software MUST incorporate a form of lead scoring so you can cherry pick those that are engaging your content the most. As they engage with your content they score higher, then you move them into your sales pipeline. Now, thanks to you have turned cold calling into warm calling!

The Lead Generation and Lead Scoring Dashboard