It was a typical sales review day for southern India sales team & we were presenting on how to expand reach in the market. After 8 of us spoke our VP – Sales & Marketing stood up and asked “I often come across a situation when sales people use ‘cold calling’ as the default when asked about effective ways to expand reach? Is it still relevant? I know it used to be when I started my career back in 1990’s? Has no advancement been made in the process of sales in past two decades? Think about it – Why still cold calling when you could easily do a ‘Planned/Researched calling’?”
After a while, I thought “you know there might actually be a better way to do this than just picking up the phone or knocking on the company gates from the list of companies assigned”.
Cold calling is a tactic, deceitful, not genuine, and it doesn’t work. Cold calling is a total waste of every salesperson’s time. And cold calling authors/presenters have the ‘g’alls to call cold calling an “art.” in today’s digitally integrated environment.
Cold Calling businesses isn’t any easier. While there were less anger and disgust directed at the caller, reaching a decision-maker means dealing with gatekeepers whose job was to put cold callers on infinite waiting.
The entire concept of cold calling is dependent on the idea that normal behavior is to answer a ringing phone / random person and have a spontaneous conversation.
Cold calling results in about a 1-3% success rate for getting an initial appointment. When that same call is made with a referral, the rate jumps up to 40% and even much higher when that referral comes from within the company.
The conclusion anyone should make is that you should never leave the office or get on the phone to call on a prospect without some form of a referral and better plan to approach the prospect.
So, let’s do some simple math –
Cold Calling: if you have a list of 1000 names to cold call, you’re looking at getting 30 appointments as doing quite well.
Researched Calling: Now, let’s say before you start calling or knocking on their gates, you drill down and do enough research to qualify 250 prospects on that list that are very well suited to your business. Then you do further research using digital media to locate information and contacts that would allow you to get referral introductions and recommendations to most on that pared down list.
Researched Calling approach is likely to turn up 75-100, well-qualified prospects willing to discuss your ideas further.
Make fewer calls, get better results – that’s marketing math you can live with.
A key aspect of this concept, of course, is that you are constantly developing a list of prospects you would like to do business with.
Connect with your existing customers as well because it will make it easier to identify the ones that are influencers and who might be a great candidate to refer you to your hot prospect list.
This approach obviously takes more time and planning. You must develop a prospect list, research using digital media, and plan for referred introductions.
The end result, however, is a success rate that any sales and marketing person would be envious of.
So the bottom line is Gone are the days of cold calling. The Era of informed / planned calling is here.