I’ve been doing straight business to business cold calling for nearly five years now. Along the way, I’ve picked up a few tips from other experienced callers, on-the-job experience, Webinars, and books by some of the experts. If you’re thinking about a career in B2B lead generation or just need a few tips to make your life easier, here are ten basic principals I live by when calling on prospects:
Warm Calling Beats Cold Calling Any Day – What’s the difference between warm calling and cold calling? Unlike cold calling, warm calling is a result of some prior contact or some previous interest shown by the prospect. You can obtain warm prospects by attending live events, dropping in offices to get information, business cards, and maybe even an impromptu meeting, and following up with prospects who may have obtained information from your website (i.e. White Papers, Webinars, and free software downloads).
Referrals Are King – Referrals can come in many forms. You may ask a happy customer to recommend your business to another company that can use it. You might want to ask a friend or a family member if they know anyone who can use your business’s products or services. Or you may cold call top-down by starting with the company’s highest-ranking executives in hopes that the exec will refer you to someone else within the company. (In the latter situation, be sure to drop the top exec’s name early in the conversation. “Hi, George. Jim Williams suggested I speak with you…”) Referrals are another source for warm calling, and warm prospects should always be called first.
Google Rocks – Whenever I need information on a prospect, besides using sites like LinkedIn and Hoovers, I enter information on a search engine like Google. My database might only have post office box addresses and phone numbers but entering the phone number in Google can yield the physical address. If I’m looking for an e-mail address, I might enter the prospect’s name and company name to find it or enter @ and the company’s website. And don’t forget about the maps where you can get directions and estimated travel times as well as Google Earth that will show you a satellite image of a building. Google can make your life a whole lot easier.
Use E-mail as a Last Resort – I’ve used e-mail during a cold calling campaign. Occasionally, I would get a reply from an interesting prospect but 95% of the time the replies would tell me the prospect is not interested. The problem with using e-mail during a cold calling campaign is that it’s too easy for prospects to say no and nearly impossible to overcome the objection. Plus the e-mail and any subsequent e-mails could be considered spam. And spamming can get you in big trouble. When I’ve put in numerous calls and voice mails to a prospect with no response, I’ll send an e-mail as a last resort because I’d rather have ANY decision than none at all. An exception can be made for IT titles because they are usually on their computers and do not like to answer phone calls.
Confirm Appointments – When a prospect agrees to a meeting, I ask her to take out her calendar to check for availability. After we agree on a time and date, I get the prospect’s e-mail address and send a confirmation e-mail. (If she has a similar e-mail system (like Outlook), I might also send a meeting request.) A lot of salespeople don’t believe in sending a confirmation e-mail because it gives the prospect a way to weasel out of the meeting. However, I’d rather a prospect cancel a meeting than have my company spend money and time on getting to a meeting that will never be.
Be on the lookout for the second half of these cold call techniques: 10 Things to Make Your Cold Calling Life Much Easier – Part 2.
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