Cold calls to consumers have declined and businesses have become more effective at screening cold calls. However, for many startups, cold calling can still generate revenue and open doors to prospective business clients and suppliers.
Cold calling conjures up images of banks of telesales staff remorselessly parroting scripts while making telephone calls to a list of prospects. Often viewed as a marketing dinosaur, cold calling has been largely overlooked by pay-per-click and social media marketing.
Cold calling definition – what is cold calling?
Cold calling is straightforward. As a business, you can call any publicly listed phone number that has not opted out of telemarketing calls. It’s used by reputable businesses to sell everything from broadband packages to introducing business-to-business services to other companies.
Costs can be cheap. All you need is a phone and a list of customers to call. Alternatively, you can outsource calls to a telemarketing service.
The main focus of a cold call is to talk with a key decision-maker about your products and services. A successful outcome may be a sale over the phone or arranging a face-to-face meeting. It doesn’t always have to be sales-led. Market research firms use telemarketing as a quick way to survey people.
For many businesses, using cold calling, social media, and email collectively are far more effective to use to connect to customers. According to research by LinkedIn, fewer than 2% of cold calls result in a meeting, and the cost per lead is around 60% more than other channels such as email and social media. Only 2% of customers typically list the phone as being their preferred method of being contacted. However, with the right cold caller, you can convert at a much higher rate as seen in this cold calling case study.
Why use cold calling?
With so much controversy around cold calling, you may wonder why use it at all? Yet, cold calling does have its place. With enough calls, that 2% response rate can turn into a good number of customers, especially with a large lead list created. Even if one call in 50 gets your new business in front of a potential client, it could be the start of a profitable business relationship.
It’s also a good way to get immediate feedback on an idea or product pitch and to quickly decide if a prospective client is worth pursuing. While email is easily ignored, at least a strong ‘not interested’ on a call lets you move on to other prospective clients.
The following tips can help you make cold calling an effective marketing tool for your business.
1. Identify your target market
You’ll have a greater chance of success if you know who you’re calling. Use social media platforms such as LinkedIn to source potential contacts. Trade directories and company press releases are a good way to identify the best person to speak to. If using a purchased list of contacts, ensure it is up-to-date with clear marketing permissions.
2. Research the company
Research the company before you call to discover recent activity. This can help provide an opening gambit, such as congratulating them on hosting a charity event or a new business win. Having shared connections on professional social media platforms such as LinkedIn or attending the same trade seminar can also help open conversations.
3. Create cold calling objectives
Know what you want your call to achieve before you start dialing. It’s rare to snag a sale on a cold call, so keep your call focused on an achievable outcome such as signing up for a trial or agreeing to a meeting. With the right mindset and goal for the call, you can have cold calling a great route in your marketing strategy.
4. Pick the best time for cold calling
Avoid Monday and Friday when calling a prospective client. On Mondays, the staff is busy planning the week ahead, whereas Friday sees them begin to wind down for the weekend meaning they’re less interested in new business opportunities. Similarly, avoid lunchtimes as many people are away from their desks.
The best time to call is 8-9 am before the business day gets going, and 4-5 pm when people are generally free from meetings. It’s also worth knowing when the company is generally too busy for calls, such as the end of its financial year. If you’re calling consumers, then the best time is mid-morning from 10-11:30 am.
5. Open the call strongly
It’s important to get off to a strong start to avoid the brush-off. Practice a strong opening statement, making sure you speak with energy and positivity. It’s a good idea to introduce yourself right at the start and clearly state why you’re calling – be straightforward and check you’re speaking to the right person. A good trick is to ask a question as this turns the call into a conversation and gets dialogue flowing.
6. Use trigger events
Use trigger events to build a connection. Trigger events are activities, such as a new appointment into a senior purchasing role or business expansion that you can use to support your reason for calling.
For example, you could call a newly appointed procurement director to congratulate them on their appointment and see how your company could fit into any new plans for suppliers they are considering. Keep an eye on social media and company press releases for trigger event hooks to hang your call on!
8. Ditch the script when cold calling (when you can)
Scripted calls sound bad most of the time. They make you sound daft and dramatically increase the chance that your call will be cut short. We don’t use scripts in real life, so aim to have a natural conversation when opening up with a script with the person on the other end of the line.
You can use some bullet points as prompts but be flexible and prepared to go off-script with the conversation. Having a seasoned cold caller will do wonders when using a cold calling service.
Bonus Tips: Avoid the hard sell
Most people dislike being the subject of a hard sell. They prefer to feel in control and not pressured into buying something, so resist the temptation to take a sales-heavy approach to cold calling. Instead, focus on the customer you’re calling. Identify their needs and seek ways your product or service can help. Avoid pressure tactics – these may be illegal in some cases – and instead offer incentives such as free trials, more information in the post, or a no-obligation quote.
Don’t give up
Cold calling takes stamina and determination. Be prepared for knockbacks. Keep in mind that 39 out of 40 calls will end in failure, and plan for that, allowing time to make enough calls to meet your goal. It’s worth being persistent, as it can take a few calls to get through to the right person and put these cold calling tips into practice. If you want professional and affordable cold callers to handle your cold calls, our team can help.