Ever since we launched Follow the Lead in late 2009, the most popular blog posts have revolved around cold calling. Despite all the kibitzing about online communications and inbound marketing - and the accompanying shift in marcom budgets - cold calling remains one of the most enduring, albeit problematic, methods of generating new leads. In an increasingly digital era, the human touch, the human voice (unaltered and unabridged), is taking on a new currency.
But the game has changed. Dialing for dollars is no longer forgivable, not to mention prohibitively expensive. Such an approach to generating new leads is, at best, counterproductive and, at worst, inexcusable, what with online-search engines the norm of business and myriad tools available online on how to drill down so you're reaching more qualified prospects.
In numerous conversations over the last 18 months with industry observers, a few essential elements about effective cold calling have bubbled to the surface:
Take the time to research the prospects you plan to call to determine whether they are legitimate prospects; where they reside in the company hierarchy; whether they have the power of the purse; what problem you're product and/or service is going to solve and what kind of pain you plan to reduce.
Rehearse an unscripted script:
Once you have a prospect on the horn, you have a very small window to get your message across. It's good to have an outline in front of you - with some key bullet points - but it's important not to sound scripted. Have a command of the nomenclature as it relates to the prospect and the marketplace make sure you're up to speed on the company's competitors, stock price and other vital stats.
Cultivate the conversation:
An initial conversation with a prospect is, one can only hope, the beginning of a prosperous relationship and not a one-shot deal. The buyer is not going to make a decision based on a single conversation. Indeed, in an initial conversation the seller's role is to listen carefully and assess what kind of information he or she needs to provide in order to help the buyer.
Distinguish yourself and your company:
To appeal to delete-happy prospects, you've got to set yourself (and your product) apart and convey relevant information. But cold calling still exists because people buy from people. Try to locate any commonalities between you and the prospect that you think would be fair game to bring up during the conversation. If you see an opening, and it's appropriate, try to infuse a little humor into the dialogue. It's the great equalizer.
About the Author
Matthew Schwartz is editor of Follow the Lead, a sales and marketing blog sponsored by ZoomInfo. His Twitter handle is @mpsjourno1. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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