I was presenting a prospecting workshop last week, and something interesting came up during the Q&A section. One of the participants, who seemed a bit agitated by my training content, said: “I don’t do any of this cold calling; I only make warm calls.”
His comment was interesting on so many levels, not the least of which was that it demonstrated the ambiguity that exists when defining warm versus cold calls. Depending on your definition, we should all be making warm or at least warm-ish calls.
A true cold call is one in which you pick up the phone, call someone you’ve never met (and has never heard of you), and recite generic, features-and-benefits language without customizing your message to the prospect’s unique circumstances.
If that’s your definition of cold calling, then, yeah, I wouldn’t recommend it.
According to Wendy Weiss, who’s known as “The Queen of Cold Calling,” there are many misconceptions about telephone prospecting:
- It doesn’t work
- Prospects don’t answer calls anymore
- Social media and email have replaced the phone
- Cold calling is old school
Despite what a lot of sales reps want to think, the above list is untrue and inaccurate.
“In terms of sales engagement, cold calling is actually one of the most targeted, efficient and effective ways to reach potential customers,” Weiss once wrote. “Nothing beats having a real conversation with a prospect. Cold calling today is direct, targeted and above all it’s a communication skill.”
I agree. There are so many ways to “warm up” a cold call:
- Start with your lead generation efforts. Find prospects who fit your parameters, people who have a high likelihood of benefitting from your offering. This simple step makes a big difference. Many sales reps are calling people who should never be in their target audience in the first place.
- Do your pre-call research. Figure out what your prospects value. What are their problems that need to be solved (pain points, as some people like to call them)? What are your prospects’ ambitious goals? What do they value? Try to ascertain what emotions your prospects might be feeling. Emotion always plays a big role in the sales process, even in B2B sales. The more valuable a prospect would be as a client, the more research time you can justify spending on him or her.
- Customize the message. Instead of calling the prospect and talking about yourself or asking to “sit down and pick your brain,” catch their attention with a value-based message that you think would resonate with them. Start the call talking about their goals or problems instead of the thing you sell.
- Know your objective. Why are you making this call? It’s not to close a deal on the spot. Chance are, you’re making a prospecting call for one reason: to engage them in a conversation or to schedule a meeting.
Believe it or not, telephone prospecting is NOT dead. It’s alive and well. In fact, it’s still the most effective communication channel for sales pros when you consider the results yielded for the time and money invested.