The unsolicited or unwanted element of the cold call is the area that has really changed over the last 20 years. There are literally thousands of books, courses, blogs and articles on the secrets and tricks to cold-calling and I don’t intend to delve into which is right or wrong in this blog but I think we can all agree our natural instinct upon receiving a cold-call is to immediately put our guard up and get off the call as quickly as possible because none of us wants to be sold to.
What has actually changed is the way in which a buyer gathers information and evaluates a product or service. Traditionally they would attend a trade show, read some trade magazines and speak to salespeople. Salespeople were the ones who had all the knowledge and information, they understood their products and services, they knew the industry, they spoke to the competition, they had real value to offer any potential buyer and therefore potential buyers would have to talk to them.
Scroll forward to today and almost everything you need to make an informed decision can be found online. So, before a potential buyer ever needs to engage with your salesforce, they’ve already gone 70% of the way down the sales process. This happens when a prospect has already identified their own pains or needs and are going through the process by themselves, or even worse with the help of your competitors.
There is a high likelihood the prospect has already done an analysis on features, benefits and price as part of their initial research and is the only reason you are on their list (or not).
So adding any real value to the late stages of the buying process means your sales teams need to be crystal clear on your value proposition and how you differentiate yourselves in the market and they need to focus on the messages needed to answer the questions typically raised towards the end of the sales cycle, such as delivery capabilities, support and risk mitigation.
Where cold calling can really make a difference and help win new business – and beat the competition – is when you help a prospect uncover a problem or need they didn’t already know about or understand, often referred to as their latent pain. This means you must engage early on in the cycle giving you the opportunity to add value and build trust from the outset. Statistically up to half of prospects will buy from the first person they speak to, so making that one last cold call at 6pm before you head home can make all the difference!
Contacting prospects at the start of their buying process is the challenge your outbound Business Development teams tackle every day and let’s face it, cold calling is a blood sport, it’s hard to pick up the phone all day every day only to be rejected over and over again. Because of this when we look at candidates for the Business Development team we talk about things like attitude, resilience, courage & determination as they will absolutely need all of these to be successful.
That said when you do reach the right person at the right time with the right message and have an amazing and valuable dialogue, there’s nothing more rewarding. After all those no’s when you get a yes its nothing less than exhilarating and why we do what we do every day in sales.
So, is cold calling dead? If you want to be part of the crowd, let your prospects do all of the initial heavy lifting and then just react to inbound requests then yes cold calling is dead for you.
However, if you want to stand out from the crowd, really help your customers identify their pains and needs and guide them along the sales process with value and trust, then cold calling is most definitely a valuable weapon in your sales armoury that should be used every day.