Should you be doing cold calling?Let me answer this by asking you another question. When was the last time you came across a success story entitled something along the lines of “How I used cold calling to grow my startup to 11 million users”? Exactly, the last time you were taken aback by a story like that was never. The thing is, cold calling is an intrusive, old-school sales tactic that triggers more hate and resentment than getting stuck behind a slow walker while rushing to an airport gate. In the olden days, before caller ID and texting, cold calling was the way to get leads for businesses of all types and sizes. In theory, calling prospective clients to chat about a product they’re likely to need doesn’t sound half bad. You could even argue that you’re making their life easier. But when was the last time you picked up a call from an unknown number? Well, there you have it.
- According to InsideView, 90% of C-level executives said they “never” respond to cold calls or e-mail blasts.
- HubSpot reports that cold calling costs at least 60% more per lead than other methods, like social selling. The newest HubSpot’s State of the Inbound report has revealed that only 19% of buyers rely on salespeople for purchase decisions.
- Only 5% of business lead phone calls lead to a sale (DSWA)
- Customers don’t want to deal with salespeople until they are 70% down the path of the buying process (HubSpot)
Can cold calling be wrong for your business?Companies that invest heavily in cold calling efforts always run several risks. First of all, the biggest red flag is that the ROI has been steadily decreasing. It’s getting more and more difficult to get the right people on the phone, not to mention maintaining their interest and converting a sale at the first touchpoint. Having learned how to navigate the online world, shoppers prefer to be attracted to a brand for its authenticity, superiority or capacity to deliver on specific expectations, rather than to be bombarded by irrelevant sales messages. Then there’s the hate factor. The modern consumer values personalized communication, storytelling and brands that have a bigger purpose than to simply shovel money. Basically, everything that cold calling isn’t. The abundance of information that our brains need to process every day and the energy we use to keep pace with the world around us leaves little to no room for unplanned decision-making. Dealing with an unwanted call stirs up a lot of unpleasant emotions. When associated with a brand, these emotions can cause a great deal of damage. People hate being sold to and until cold calling is used to establish a connection rather than to push a product or service, it will fail to meet the changing buyer expectations. So should you be doing cold calling? It depends. Though an unwelcome outbound marketing technique, cold calling can turn out to be a tremendous asset for businesses that know how to spin it right. When married with clever inbound marketing techniques, cold calling can be upgraded to smart calling, help businesses gather feedback, develop personal relationships and understand their users better. For example, if you’re just starting out, cold calling can be a quick and cheap way to validate your business idea, figure out common buyer objections and evaluate the effectiveness of your pitch. For businesses that are mainly concerned with getting more qualified leads rather than customer feedback, cold calling should only be an option if integrated with a robust inbound marketing strategy. So to get the best out of cold calling you need to get the hang of the inbound sales process.
Introduction to inbound sales processInbound sales is selling the way prospects buy. The old-fashioned way of selling was to build the entire sales process around the business needs instead of focusing on the buyer. With the advent of the internet, though, this has flipped on its head. Rather than basing everything on an assumption that a prospect wants your product or service, a smart inbound salesman (or saleswoman) finds a way how to get the prospect to hand all the important information over, allowing for a more personalized, targeted communication. Once a potential customer expresses explicit interest in the product or service, a skilled sales rep can leverage that knowledge and tailor the pitch to highlight the right product benefits. By focusing on buyers’ personal needs, pain points, frustrations, and goals, businesses can craft more personalized pitches and align their product to meet the customer’s needs. Let’s see how the inbound sales process is developed.
#1 Start with defining your buyer’s journeyTraditionally, salespeople would focus all their energy on following some sort of script structure and checking certain boxes, as they were trained by their manager, instead of actively listening to the customer and trying to address their pain points. This is exactly what drives customers mad — they don’t want to be prospected, “warmed up” or closed. They’re looking for a solution to a problem or guidance on how to achieve a particular goal. If a sales rep can’t help, Google certainly will. To be relevant and create value for the customer, salespeople must understand the different stages of a buying journey and how that affects a prospect’s expectations. The journey can roughly be divided into three different stages: awareness, consideration, and decision. As they progress through different stages, prospects narrow their choices and form a clearer vision of what they want and why. To make sure your company tops their list, the marketing department needs to work closely with the sales team to cover all bases. When trying to figure out the specifics of each stage, try asking yourself the following questions: Awareness stage. How do buyers gather information and learn more about the problem your product or service is solving? How do buyers describe or define the problem your product or service addresses? How do buyers decide whether the problem needs to be prioritized? How to identify buyers at this stage: they visit your blog, interact with your social media, share or otherwise engage with your content. Suitable content ideas: blog posts, ebooks, whitepapers, reports with original research, videos. Consideration stage. How do buyers educate themselves on available solutions? How do they perceive the advantages and disadvantages of different solutions? What influences their decision when choosing the right solution? How to identify buyers at this stage: they visit your product pages, check out your benefits and feature pages, “About us” section and area of expertise content. Suitable content ideas: long-form content, such as guides and ebooks, webinars, live interactions, comparisons, and reviews. Decision stage. What criteria do buyers use when evaluating your product or service? What objections or concerns do they have that might put them off from converting? What differentiates your offering from your competition? Do buyers expect to be able to trial the product before making a purchase? Besides the final purchasing decision, do buyers need to make any other important decisions, such as consider implementation or training strategies? How to identify buyers at this stage: they read your case studies and testimonials, look up comparison articles and reviews, visit pricing pages and “contact us” section of your site. Suitable content ideas: case studies and testimonials, demos, trials, product literature. Answering these questions before you pick up the phone or draft a sales email will help you look at the process from a different perspective and ensure your buyer journey is optimized to keep the prospects moving down the sales funnel towards a purchase. You should also consider developing buyer personas to segment your customers based on their needs, pain points and goals. This will help you to create targeted content for each persona at different stages throughout the buying journey. Image source: Jinbound Blog
#2 Develop your sales processOnce you have fully grasped the different stages of your buyer journey and how the prospects progress or why they drop off, it’s time to develop a sales process that supports this journey and increases the likelihood of conversions. The inbound sales process is perfectly aligned with the buyer journey, supporting customers with timely additional information as they move from identifying a challenge or opportunity that they want to pursue to deciding which solution best meets their needs. The three main things you need to remember about inbound selling is that it is personalized, buyer-centric, and advisory. The best way to tackle this is by following a four-part framework: