Cold calling is a marketing technique where a salesperson contacts a prospective customer hoping to interest them in a product or service. In this case, the prospect neither asked to be contacted nor expected the call and may or may not be interested in the product/service. Traditionally, cold calling was done over the phone (telemarketing) or through in-person visits. In the digital era, cold calling is done through email marketing and social media solicitations.
A brief history of cold calling
This sales technique has a long history, but cold calling as we know it today took shape in the 1980s, driven by improvements in communication technology. Additionally, consumers were more amenable to sales calls, contributing to tremendous growth in the industry.
However, towards the late 1990s, the market was infiltrated by fraudsters posing as sales agents, and customers started getting weary of relentless calls. With the arrival of the internet soon after, cold calling as a sales strategy was suddenly fighting for survival.
Pros & Cons of Cold Calling
Cold calling, by its very definition, is not the easiest of sales techniques. This is particularly so in the digital age, where customers screen their calls and treat telemarketers with suspicion. Similarly, today’s buyers get all the information they need online and have little use (or patience) for someone selling a product over the phone.
Does that mean that cold calling is dead? Traditional aspects of cold calling, such as soliciting strangers, have no place in modern marketing. However, when combined with other marketing strategies, cold calling can benefit a business.
If you are considering cold calling for your business, here are the top pros & cons that you should have in mind:
It will help you reach new customers/ form new business connections.
Cold calling can be an effective way of growing your customer base. If you reach a customer who wasn’t aware of your product, you get a chance to introduce it to them and even send them more information. This can be particularly useful if you contact the right demographic, that is, prospects who are likely to be interested in your product or service. This means that you form a business connection that can be beneficial in the long run.
It can be done anywhere.
Cold calling does not require a team to be sited in an office working the phones. Your salespeople can work from their homes, on the road, or wherever they are. This is particularly true during movement restrictions occasioned by COVID 19. Being able to work remotely means that your team doesn’t stop selling.
It provides instant feedback.
Speaking to prospective customers about your product or service will give you a chance to get real-time feedback or reaction. Sending a cold email, for example, doesn’t guarantee that the recipient will read it or even reply. When you speak to someone on the phone, you will get immediate feedback that may help inform your next steps or tweak your sales strategy.
It allows your salespeople to perfect their skills.
A good product pitch should accompany an excellent cold calling strategy. Understandably, first-time sales agents may be full of nerves as they make cold calls. Speaking to clients repeatedly can help them build confidence and adjust their pitch accordingly based on customer feedback. Prospective customers will well receive a well-delivered, natural value proposition.
It may irritate/annoy customers
Most consumers consider cold calls a nuisance. Consumers who are not listed simply screen their calls and send unwanted calls to voicemail. This makes it a tough market for unsolicited sales calls. Constant rejection can be demoralizing, even for the most experienced sales agents.
It is time-consuming
Statistics show that only 2% of cold calls are successful. That means if an agent makes 100 calls in a day, they will have only spoken to two prospective customers. Think of the sheer amount of time it takes to make 100 calls. This means that cold calling is both time-consuming and inefficient.
It can damage your brand.
There is a good reason why millions of people are on the Do Not Call Registry or refuse to pick numbers they don’t recognize. They don’t want to be bothered by sales agents. If your agents keep calling people who don’t want to be called, they can begin to perceive your brand negatively.
It is difficult to reach decision-makers
People who have the power to make real buying decisions are protected by a wall of secretaries or assistants who are already wary of salespeople. Unless you know who you specifically need to talk to, it is not easy to cold-call your way through to the top decision-maker.
How to do Cold Calling Right
We have seen that cold calling has some shortcomings that can spell doom to your sales strategy if left as is. However, it is possible to leverage this sales technique by incorporating some strategies.
Understand your prospective customers
You can leverage numerous tools to learn more about your customers before you make a cold call. Utilize these to learn when they visit your website, what products they are interested in, and what questions they have. This gives you a platform from which to launch your pitch when you get to talk to them.
Offer consumers something they find valuable.
Gone are the days when businesses contacted customers only when they wanted to sell them something. To attract prospects to your brand, offer information, demos, trials, or content that you think they might need. This not only gets them to come to you but positions you strategically for a sale when the time comes.
Use a mix of strategies.
To survive in a highly competitive market, you cannot only rely on working the phones. Give useful information on your website and request customer email addresses in exchange. This gives you a way to contact prospects directly. Learn where your prospects spend time on social media and update your company profile.
Share helpful content and invite comments and questions. Finally, referrals are a powerful way to get your foot in the door, so ask for referrals from your happiest customers.
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