By Jeff Beals
In 2007, it took an average of 3.68 cold-call attempts to reach a prospect. Today it takes eight attempts. That’s according to TeleNet and Ovation Sales Group. Some studies have indicated it requires 10 to 12 attempts to reach an executive-level decision maker.
No doubt about it, cold calling is getting less and less effective. Unless you have a referral or some other way to warm up a prospecting call, cold calling has now become an utter waste of time for most sales people.
That’s not to say that telephone prospecting is dead.
On the contrary, the telephone remains one of the most powerful and effective prospecting channels on Earth. But old-fashioned cold calling – the idea of picking up the phone and talking to a complete stranger who has no idea who you are – is incredibly inefficient. Fewer than five percent of cold calls lead to an appointment and a far smaller percentage leads to a sale.
Why is cold calling no longer effective?
There are a number of reasons but chief among them is that clients are time starved. They simply don’t have the time to chat with salespeople on the phone especially B2B clients. Additionally, it’s hard to establish prospective client value on a cold call which inevitably makes the experience feel “salesy” to the call recipient. That’s not good, because as the old saying goes: “People love to buy but they hate to be sold.”
So what is an enterprising, motivated sales professional to do? If cold calling is a waste of time, how can you access decision-making prospects and generate more business?
Here are some tips for you to survive a post-cold-calling sales world:
Referrals – Hands down, the single most effective way to cut through the clutter and actually get a busy decision maker to talk with you is to use a referral. In an era when buyers are jealously protective of their time a referral from a trusted source is your ticket to the show. The higher up a prospect is in a company, the more important referrals are.
Marketing – Warm up people with a compelling marketing campaign which could be any combination of advertising, social, email, direct mail. Prospecting calls aren’t quite as chilly when the recipient has heard of you.
Personal Branding – As an individual sales professional, you need to be somewhat famous in your own sphere of interest. Build a a highly respected and widely recognized presence in your marketplace whether that is a geographic or industry marketplace. Use social media especially LinkedIn as a way to promote yourself and get to know other people.
You can build your online presence by participating in discussion forums, joining/becoming active in LinkedIn Groups, reviewing products on Amazon.com that appeal to your prospects and commenting on articles that your prospects are likely to read.
Consider also writing blogs and creating podcasts or YouTube videos that are interesting and attract attention. Attracting prospects through the creation and distribution of free content is knows as inbound marketing, and if done properly, can be immensely effective.
Networking and Social Events – Get to know decision makers or direct reports of decision makers at chamber of commerce events, during community service activities and while helping charitable organizations. You can even meet prospects along the sidelines of your kids’ or grandkids’ soccer games. Hang out where your prospects hang out. I know this one works well because I have used it countless times.
Another nice thing about networking is that even if you don’t meet decision makers you can meet the direct reports of decision makers. Referrals from trusted advisers and favorite direct reports are especially valuable.
Gift Marketing Campaign – Some sales pros will send a gift, perhaps an interesting new book and then follow up two-to-three days after the recipient receives the gift. I have had success with this technique many times. Prospects will usually talk to someone who sends them something appealing.
Have an Excuse – Finally, always have a reason to call that is of value to the prospect and preferably wait until after you have done some of the above items before you place a call. Additionally, don’t just call because you would like to chat or haven’t heard from a person in a while. Don’t just call because you want to dump a bunch of product information on a prospect. Call when you have something interesting to say that is of value to your would-be client.
Jeff Beals shows you how to find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share. Jeff is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant. A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.”
Here’s Why Should You Choose Jeff Beals as Your Next Speaker:
“Jeff is sure to deliver an engaging and motivating speech! He cleverly ties together his stories and makes the speech end with a punch. Being the closing speaker is tough, but he stepped-up to the challenge and hit a home-run. Due to the high ratings and overwhelming response to re-watch his speech, we are planning on using his video during our NextGen watch party.” – Megan Dotson, Senior Client Success Consultant & Event Director, GovLoop.com, Washington, DC
“Your workshop was a huge experience for our attendees by giving them the opportunity to improve their work in the critical environment in which we are living today. Your talent as a speaker and your qualities as a person made the difference during your time with us. I would certainly recommend you to anyone who asks.” – Ana Paula Costa, Educational Planner, Febracorp, Sao Paulo, Brazil
“Our corporate partnership team had great takeaways regarding how to network smarter while also understanding the importance of our personal brand to current and prospective partners. Jeff does a great job weaving in real-world examples and how you can apply his teachings to growing your business and
building long-term partnerships.” – Jason Booker, Senior Director of Corporate Sponsorships, The Kansas City Royals Major League Baseball Team
“If you are considering hiring Jeff, I will only say this: do it now. His ability to connect with an audience and explain the importance of telling the story is nothing short of extraordinary. The true litmus of any great speaker is authenticity. And when authenticity is coupled with an incredibly high amount of energy, humor, and engagement – you get Jeff. I would highly recommend him to anyone who needs a speaker attendees will talk about for a long time to come.” – Alison Cody, Executive Director, Manufacturers’ Agents Association for the Foodservice Industry, Atlanta, GA
“I’m in Phoenix and had breakfast earlier this morning with our semi-retired sales representative who is doing some continued work for us here. He attended your sales meeting last week and told me that in 43 years of selling, you were the best he had ever heard. Thanks for a great experience.” – Drew Vogel, President & CEO, Diamond Vogel Paints, Orange City, IA