Once upon a time, cold calls and in-person sales visits were the primary source of prospecting for business to business leads. But times have changed. Just as we have evolved in our methods and options of communicating (e.g. social media, email and drip marketing campaigns), so too has the use of the cold call. It is still an integral piece of your B2B lead generation efforts, but these days the cold call plays a different role. While cold calling is still one of the most effective ways to qualify your list and identify the correct decision makers and their contact information, cold calls now can be used in conjunction with the other communication methods to add momentum to how quickly you reach your targeted prospects and generate sales. This article will lay out the structure and purpose of cold calls today, along with some of the approaches that I use to manage a campaign from start to end.
You’ve heard the saying, You get what you pay for. Do keep this in mind when considering list resources as they are the key component in ramping up B2B lead generation. If you have the wrong name, it may take two, three, or five calls before you find out you have been barking up the wrong tree. Most lists begin to grow outdated after six months to a year, so when shopping for a list perhaps ask for a test sample in your area to make sure that the list is accurate. With trials, I usually will ask for a sample list of 200-300 to start. (You don’t get what you don’t ask for.) At time of this publication, I personally found http://www.data.com to be one of the most accurate lists published. http://www.rainkingonline.com is also a great resource for IT lists. My experience has shown accuracy between 65% and 70% with these two lists, and often they have email addresses and direct lines. If, for example, you get 300 names at 50 cents apiece, that’s $150 dollars—money well spent, but only if you don’t have to make three to five calls to the wrong person on a large portion of your list. If you pencil this out, you will easily see that a good list is well worth the investment.
In my experience, an effective B2B lead generation cold call campaign has multiple goals at various times throughout the call cycle. I recommend that three passes be made through a call list. During this process the goal is to sort through the list and identify qualified leads for either now or in the future. This is a place where some sales people will stop and start, but it is just the beginning to generate sales. I like to describe these initial pass-through’s as the “discovery” phase.
- When working a list, don’t call more of a section than what you can complete in a week. You will “work” this section of your list for three weeks.
- When calling, you will want to note details for speedier navigation through the reception or automated attendant–notes might include whether there is a heavy screen or what number to press for a directory of names.
- You will also want to note details that you discover in your calls—clues that might help you most effectively structure your call next time, i.e. new receptionist, asks a lot of questions before transferring, or no voicemail options)–all of these details help you better streamline your future calls.
- Do leave voicemail messages when you can. 80% of your calls will end up in voicemail, so it’s best to at least try to brand yourself to those that listen. If you have an email address to follow up with, by all means do so. This is a very effective way to reach audience variables. Some people better communicate by phone, others by email–with this approach you expand your audience appeal and generate sales. The first email should be a slightly longer version of what you left on voicemail. I have found that, after a second pass through the list, following up with a two-sentence email stating that you know you are not for everyone but that you wanted to know if they were just too busy or this wasn’t a good fit, it really drives home the point that it is indeed ok to say no. What you are trying to do is to get orientation through this sort of communication. No means what, “never?” “not now?” “CB in six months?” Again, we are sorting.
As you make your way through the list, speak to and categorize those that you can, note callback times for future follow-up and eliminate those companies that are not a good fit. I usually retain a separate list of dead ends, so that I can cross-reference new leads with this list and avoid duplicate efforts to companies that I have already disqualified.
During this time, you will also fine tune your script delivery. Are we loosing people after the first sentence? Do people tend to respond favorable to a certain email message?
At the third pass through, I do not leave a voice message–wouldn’t want to come across as a pest. Simply mark them for callback in six months and move on. If they have not responded after three calls (and two emails if you had the address), then there is most likely not a need right now. Your time is better spent looking for people who are interested.
In theses initial passes you will have talked to individuals and been given permission to add some to your distribution list. When someone tells me no, I will follow by saying,
“Thanks for taking my call. I will follow up with you down the road. In the meantime we offer a free monthly publication that highlights the emerging trends in (your industry) and our expertise in (your service or product). If it’s ok with you, I will add you to the list.”
This distribution list will then become the point of your drip marketing campaign in which you send something of value to these prospects (usually monthly). This helps them get a better understanding of what it is that you can offer them, essentially educating your prospect so that you can better help them understand the need for your product or service. This approach also helps create effective brand awareness whereby a prospect starts to sell on your behalf when when you are not making calls to them. You want to make your prospect aware enough of who you are and what your company does so that when the Monday board meeting brings up the topic of needing your type of product or service, your name gets mentioned, and they contact you.
If you do not have many emails, do consider a drip marketing campaign through the US mail. The need of brand awareness to help your prospect grow in familiarity with who you are, is still present. Yes, it will be more costly than email, which means that you should make it a goal to capture as many emails as you can for lower marketing overhead. This calls for high quality B2B lead generation.
You might even consider postal delivery of collateral in addition to the emails and phone calls, especially with hard-to-reach prospects. If you send a box in the mail to your decision maker, odds are that you will bypass gatekeepers or executive assistants in the screening of the contents and land it directly on your target person’s desk. A creative tchotchke, some collateral along with the comment that you will follow up in a week, is a great way to get your contact to take your call, if for no other reason than to compliment you on the creative item that you put into the box to get their attention. Is he expecting your call? Of course! http://www.marketsync.com offers salesforce Customer Relationship Management (CRM) users streamlined, trackable, and customized options for print-on-demand, fulfillment, and custom assembly.
Monthly grooming of your list
- Each month, go through your list, adding more names as you process through others.
- Contact prospects back in the month or several prior to their recommended call-back time that they suggested.
- Revisit names six to nine months after the initial call if you have made three passes and not received a reply to voicemail or email. By this time, with drip marketing or any promo details, some of the companies will now start to recognize your name and you may have an easier time having a conversation with the decision maker.
Telemarketing is the customized approach to what digital and print communication is not. Telemarketing helps a sales person gauge interest, helps to categorize qualified leads, gives you feedback on the level of interest, and most importantly you have organic live conversations that are far more effective than waiting for the phone to ring.
In no time you will have developed an effective follow up tool for your sales calls.
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