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What Happened To Cold Calling?

With the invention of the internet, email, and social media, cold calling has become more and more obsolete. It's not dead, but the strategies behind cold calling have changed - since today's customers have changed how they get their information and how they buy. Here is what happened with cold calling.

What is Cold Calling 

Cold calling is - calling a target customer or prospect that you have no relationship with, yet. Often it is the first live contact with that person.

Cold calling or cold prospecting was first documented by a man, John Patterson, who later founded the NCR Corporation in 1873. This was the first noted evidence of the patterned and scripted face-to-face customer prospecting that can be seen today. Overall, this sales process has not evolved much. Buyers sure have.

How Have Customers Evolved? 

Back in the day, even as little as 15 years ago, customers relied on salespeople to guide them through the B2B buying process. But as new technology became available, there was a shift in the way customers were making decisions. Today, according to Forrester, "68% of B2B customers prefer to self-serve and complete independent research online." Customers will dig deep and look at reviews, competitors, markets, etc., to get the most information they can.

Think about the last time you purchased a product. You probably started Googling, where you didn't go beyond the first page of results. You probably looked at prior customer reviews beginning with the lowest star rating and most recent purchases. You did your research on that product so, don't think your customers won't do their own research.

By the time they talk to a salesperson, they are well versed in your product and know what it can do for them. According to Forbes, "Buyers are now more empowered than they ever used to be; for the average B2B customer today, more than 70 percent of the buying decision occurs before speaking with a salesperson."

How to Engage Your Customers 

The most effective cold calling approaches involve delivering content to your prospects even before the initial call.

To give yourself the best chance, you have to do everything possible to gain market share. Make sure you are making continuous enhancement of your database, SEO, trade shows, email automation, social media, content, and then call. 

According to Marketingcharts, "The majority (54%) of salespeople surveyed said that it takes at least five attempts to get an initial meeting, and 10% believe it takes more than 10." The three top methods for reaching prospects are referrals, phone, and then groups.

What to Talk About

According to Small Biz Genius, "69% of buyers report accepting one or more cold calls during 2019." Once it's time for your call, based on the way prospects interact with your content, you can better understand which challenges and needs to address during the call.

According to HubSpot:

  • 58% of consumers are already interested in talking about pricing during the first call
  • 47% want to understand what the company is trying to achieve
  • 45% want to know how the product works
  • 44% want to know how similar organizations use the product
  • 37% and why they should purchase

The more likely you are to talk about the customer and what problems they might be facing, the better the conversation will go. 

Talk About Them

There are several ways to structure your cold call.

Common Challenges

Please do your research when it comes to calling a prospect. Review their site and look at their market.  Are there specific challenges or issues they are facing? Or could be facing? Touch on that let them know you understand their company's needs.

What do They Want

One of the first things salespeople should do is ask prospects what they want to talk about. Chances are your prospect has already looked at your content and done some research, so they will already have some knowledge of your product. While qualifying the lead, make sure you answer their questions as well.

Share Success Stories

Prospects want to hear success stories. They are relatable and easy to digest. According to HubSpot, "44% of prospects say they'd like to hear success stories." As experts in their space, salespeople will want to be ready to answer a prospect's questions and ask insightful questions of their own and tell stories as the dialogue progresses.

In The End

Customers today have an extremely negative reaction to having products jammed down their throats. By doing your research and outreach beforehand, you can align your prospects' needs with your selling approach for a more relevant, meaningful conversation during a cold call.

About Gary Braun

Gary is a founder and co-owner of Pivotal Advisors. He has worked for 20+ years as a salesperson and sales leader. Gary has been a guest speaker for many groups such as Vistage, Allied Executives, CEO Roundtable, Sales Management Association, and more. If you want to find out more about Gary check out his profile here.
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