Or at least it should be. Cold calls are lazy. They were developed well before the age of social media and the web. I know of many companies who still rely on such tactics to solicit new business. Often time’s new sales hires are given a list and told to “pound the phones”.
However, a cold call is only as “cold” as you make it. If you pick up the phone, call me, and begin to sell me something, it’s more along the lines of telemarketing than a sales call. Common sense dictates that the person on the other line:
A. Doesn’t know you.
B. Doesn’t trust you
C. Doesn’t know what you’re selling
D. Doesn’t have the time to listen to your 10 minutes sales pitch.
I recommend to colleagues that they should kindle the fire before making any verbal contact with a lead. My process for taking a “cold” lead and creating a “warm” lead is quite simple, flexible, and should be common knowledge. Unfortunately, judging by some of the calls that I personally received, it’s not.
Before I begin, let’s discuss what I feel the difference is between a cold and warm lead.
Cold Lead: A target customer whom has no recollection of you personally, the business you work for, or the product/service that you’re trying to sell them.
Warm Lead: A target customer whom has either heard of you personally, the business you work for, or is familiar with your company’s product or service.
Here are some simply ways to heat up that cold lead:
1. Touch them:
No, not physically! With the evolution of the internet, you can just about find anyone along with their contact information. Here are some of my tactics:
Connect with them on LinkedIn and send them a message letting them know who you are and what you do. Don’t sell them, but simply put your name in front of them, providing them the opportunity to explore deeper if they choose.
Mail a letter to their office introducing yourself and letting them know that you provide services that may benefit them. Make it personal and show the benefits that you can provide (cost, time, etc.).
2. Ask for an Introduction
An introduction is the perfect way to help get your name in front of a potential customer. But how?
Have a colleague or friend they trust reach out to them first. LinkedIn is amazing for the ability to see who’s connect to who. You can then see who, out of your previous connections, is related to your cold lead. Receiving an introduction or referral from a friend or colleague could provide an easy way to secure a face-to-face meeting.
It’s very difficult to be a sales professional and an introvert at the same time. You need to be likeable, knowledgeable, and trust worth to gain the respect of your potential customers. Although sitting being a computer can sometimes work for generating relationships in your personal life, it’s not so easy in the sales world. Here’s how you can step out of the office and get in front of your leads.
Find out where this person’s planning on being and intercept! Creepy? Maybe. Beneficial? Yes!
I’ve purchased tickets to speaking events, networking nights, trade shows, and even eat at restaurants my potential prospect frequently visits or owns. My recommendation would be not to try and close a sale after the first hand shake. Build a solid relationship and be sure to develop that connection by asking if you can touch base with that person in the future. It can be done through lunch, e-mail, or even at another event. Either way, you’ve earned not only their trust, but a warm lead.
Keep in mind that these events are not only places to meet your current leads, but additional warm leads and those who work for companies that you may already be targeting. Each relationship should be viewed as another step on your way to a closed opportunity.
This article wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the last type of “cold call,” what I titled the cold approach. The technical name is called “canvassing” and is quite frankly a door-to-door salesmen. It’s no different than cold calling. You’re not only arriving unexpectedly, but you’re asking for someone’s trust and time. This is almost as inefficient as the cold call, but it adds a personal flair to the matter. Most argue that it forces people to give you their time, but more often than not, it forces them into pretending to respect what you’re doing (if you’re so lucky).
If you follow my three steps to cultivating a warm lead, you’ll find yourself closing a larger percentage of opportunities. You’ll also be allocating your time more effectively, which leads to more closed opportunities and new leads through referrals.
Don’t get me wrong, picking up the phone and face-to-face meetings will NEVER be dead, but the true cold call very well should be. The age of the internet has provided sales teams with more opportunities than ever to develop relationships with both current and potential clients. It would be foolish not to take advantage of these valuable tools.
Do you or your company still utilize cold calls? Does your company provide your sales force with the necessary tools to be successful (ex. premium LinkedIn profiles, networking events, etc.)? What outlet works best for generating warm leads for your business? Let me know in the comment section below!
Blog Post by Kyle Johnson, Owner, Personal Fitness Agent at Professional Fitness Consulting
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