Cold calling as a sales strategy has been around for over 100 years. Since then, we’ve accomplished quite a few things like putting people on the moon, constructing the Empire State Building, and sending robots to Mars. With so many advancements in the past century, you’d think that cold calling would have become more efficient as well – nope!
If you’re tired of doing the sales equivalent of repeatedly running face-first into a brick wall, this blog is for you! We’ll be breaking down the problem with cold calling as a prospecting strategy, outlining the difference between traditional cold calling and effective prospecting, and giving you tactics for how to find potential clients the right way.
The Problem with Cold Calling
Cold calling, as a concept, still works the same way as it did in 1920. You reach out to countless people you don’t know and pray that they happen to be interested in your product (only to get shot down over 95% of the time, according to market research). The truth is, cold calling did have merit as a prospecting strategy a century ago. Nobody had the internet, social media, email, or any other tech tools that modern businesses and consumers use daily. Compared to today’s fast-paced business world, commerce in the 1920s moved at a snail’s pace.
As such, cold calling was just about the best way for companies to put their product in front of potential buyers. In a time where widespread, tech-savvy consumer analytics didn’t exist, brands depended on the law of large numbers: “even if only 5% of people like our product, we can still hit our sales goals if we call 10,000 people!”
The world has changed since then. Every day, people become more specialized and effective at their jobs. In other words, if you’re still making your salespeople cold call for hours every day, you’re not only killing your bottom line – you’re killing your sales reps! Nobody wants to dial the phone for hours just to get hung up on time after time. Not to mention, there are many more useful things that your sales team could be doing instead of dialing numbers off of a call list! Wouldn’t it be amazing if your salespeople could find 80% of your revenue-generating prospects in only 1.5 hours each day? That’s what we’re discussing today: how to do effective prospecting.
Cold Calling vs Effective Prospecting
Don’t get us wrong, the phone is still an excellent sales prospecting tool in modern business – but if you want to start seeing significant results, you need to get surgical with your approach. Cold calling is just too simplistic. It’s one of (if not the most) inefficient ways to find prospects for your brand. If you want to make a change, it’s time to replace old-school cold calling with effective prospecting – a shift that will save you time, stress, and money.
You might be wondering, what’s the difference between cold calling and effective prospecting? The two tactics are similar in many ways, but the game-changing difference lies in the strategies for figuring out who to call.
In traditional cold calling, you get an unoptimized list of phone numbers from a semi-reliable source and start dialing. You don’t know who these people are, what they need, or whether they already partnered with your competitors. In most cases, the only thing you know about them is the information on the call list. In other words, you have no clue what awaits you on the other side of the line. The vast majority of these calls end in the prospect either hanging up or shutting down the conversation with a phrase like, “we’re not interested.”
Cold calling doesn’t fail because your sales reps aren’t skilled enough to prospect effectively and create client interest. It’s because traditional cold calling is like pulling a fish out of the water to stop it from drowning – a pointless, ineffective waste of time that does more harm than good. Even the best cold callers only have a success rate of about 5%. If your brand had a product that only 5% of buyers liked or a tool that only worked 5% of the time, you’d toss it in the trash. But cold calling, despite its archaic inefficiency, has cemented itself into the way companies find clients. It’s time to make a change.
If you’re sick and tired of daily, pointless cold calling (you should be), it’s time to start doing effective prospecting. This strategy still involves calling prospects who haven’t heard of your brand before. The difference lies in how you find these prospects, identify who to call, and create procedures for how you qualify customers. By creating a strategy for not only how you call but why you call, your sales reps can prospect faster and more efficiently than ever before. This also lets your sales team use its valuable – and usually expensive – time for doing things that need more creativity and create a bigger impact on your brand than incessant phone dialing.
How to Prospect the Right Way
Step 1: Stop Prospecting Blindly
To ensure that we get this critical point across, let’s shift gears and look at an effective prospecting and lead-gen giant that has taken the world by storm in the past two decades: Facebook. This social platform isn’t just a place where people connect with friends, post vacation pictures, and get into arguments with strangers. It’s also a marketing superpower for brands around the world.
Why is Facebook so effective, you ask? Because the platform knows its users better than any other social media site in the world. Facebook’s enormous user base, paired with its unrivaled ability to collect user analytics, makes it an excellent tool for effective prospecting. Facebook doesn’t just collect information about where its users live and the content they enjoy. It also monitors user behavior and can determine whether people are more likely to click an ad, watch a video, fill out a form, etc. The platform can then put the right ads in front of the right people to optimize marketing results.
What’s the lesson to learn from this? You need to know your prospects. Your brand might not be a tech and social marketing giant like Facebook, but you must have the ability to discern which potential customers are worth calling and why. If the only things you know about the people you contact is that they’re human and they breathe, you’re leaving money on the table and wasting your time.
One way to optimize your calling and start effective prospecting is by only reaching out to prospects who are verified as people who pick up the phone. With this strategy, constant hang-ups are a thing of the past! If you want to learn more about how to get better at effective prospecting by calling the right people, check out Phone Ready Leads®.
Step 2: Prioritize Your Calls
Once you’ve spent some time calling and establishing contact with quality prospects, there’s another question to answer: who do you call first?
Imagine you have three prospects that you can call, and you can only pick one. The first is cold and has never heard of your brand, the second is interested but dragging their feet, and the third is on the cusp of buying. Who do you choose to call? If you picked prospect three, you’re on the right track to getting started with effective prospecting and supercharging your sales!
The closer a prospect is to buying your product, the less time you’ll need to invest in trying to convince them to partner with you! Of course, getting prospects #1 and #2 up to speed and ready to buy is critical, but closing sales is your brand’s priority. When deciding who to call, contact your closest to revenue first, and then work backward to cold calls. This is the most efficient use of your time, and your salespeople will feel great closing sales instead of hammering away at cold calls all day!
Step 3: Qualify Efficiently
In a perfect world, your products fly off the physical or metaphorical shelves with minimal effort. Unfortunately, cold calling still exists in 2021, so we know that the world is certainly not perfect. While you might not be able to magically make people buy your product, there are things you can do to ensure that you’re selling to the right people.
The truth is, not everyone wants or needs your product. And while that may initially seem like a bad thing, it’s actually an excellent advantage for your brand. For every person who doesn’t want or need your product, there is someone who must have it. If you can focus your full sales efforts solely on the people who are in demand for what you’re selling, you can make more money with less time and effort!
Once you’ve established contact with potential buyers using effective prospecting, it’s time to qualify them. Not every prospect who agrees to a meeting will be a good fit for your product. The sooner you can separate your target audience from the people who aren’t a fit for your product, the sooner you can start focusing on the prospects that can make you money!
The best way to do this is to optimize and standardize your prospect qualifying. Most salespeople qualify their prospects, but few companies have a concise outline of what makes a qualified or disqualified prospect. Many sales teams simply guess their way through qualifying – making it a subjective, inaccurate, and time-consuming activity.
If you want to change the way your salespeople qualify prospects, standardize it. Take some time to write down the factors that make or break a qualified customer. Do they have to have a certain budget, be in a specific market, or be part of a particular demographic? Create a checklist for your salespeople to reference and use to qualify prospects. It’s still up to your sales reps to make their qualifying questions sound like a genuine conversation, not an interrogation. But you can help them by taking the guesswork out of qualifying!
The phone is an excellent, low-cost tool for prospecting. But if you want to keep up with the lightning-fast pace of the modern business world, you must revamp your cold calling. Stop living in the 1920s, turn your unproductive cold calling into effective prospecting with these three steps:
- Stop Prospecting Blindly: Only call people you know answer the phone.
- Prioritize Your Calls: Call your prospects in the right order. Focus on the people who are closest to revenue and work your way backwards to the coldest prospects.
- Qualify Efficiently: Take the guesswork out of prospecting. Make it a standardized, objective process that all of your salespeople use.
If you apply these steps, you won’t just start saving time on prospecting and closing more sales. You’ll also unlock the ability to use your salespeople for more demanding activities that have a greater influence on your bottom line (like closing, for example). Get started with effective prospecting for your business today and watch your bottom line soar!
About the Author: Shawn Sease, Founder of 5bynoon, believes that, to get different results, you must do things differently. He helps companies get more meetings and thinks your goal should be to get 5 meetings by noon too. Connect with him here.