The Lost Art of the Cold Call
If you're convinced cold calling is still a worthwhile sales tactic, don't look to Google for affirmation. A search for "cold calling statistics" turns up a whole bunch of numbers, most of them overwhelmingly negative. An article titled "The Horrifying Reality of Cold Calling" (the first Google result) cited a HubSpot survey that found cold calling costs 60 percent more per lead than inbound marketing tactics. One blog cited a study in which 6,264 cold calls yielded 19 appointments, for a 0.3 percent success rate. Another site pegged the success rate at a much rosier 1 to 3 percent.
It's enough to convince salespeople to ditch the cold call for good. But is it a fair assessment? Is there any value left in cold calling, despite its tarnished reputation and the discouraging statistics? Plenty of experts think so.
"Cold calling is critical as a tool for salespeople who want to grow their business," said Rick Greene, MAS, regional vice president for Chatsworth, California-based HALO Branded Solutions. "It's also important as a vehicle to stay sharp, keep your skills honed and remain at the top of your game. Otherwise, you'll slump off into inertia, see your sales slowly (or rapidly) taper off and settle into a half-aware blob of reactive quotes and reorders until you fade into the wallpaper."Cold calling is training, it's exercise and it's hard work-and it's usually the last thing the average sales person wants to do," he added. "So, don't be average. Embrace it as part of your daily activity or become that blob. Your choice."
Nobody said it was easy, but with the right approach, cold calling can still provide a major boost to sales. Here are five ways to make it work for you.
1. WARM IT UP
Knocking on doors unannounced or blindly dialing down a call list may have worked in the pre-Internet era of selling, but nowadays those strategies likely won't get you far. Before you start calling, it's good to know some basic information about your prospect. "A totally 'cold' sales call today should be a thing of the past," explained Gregg Emmer, vice president and chief marketing officer for Kaeser & Blair Inc., Batavia, Ohio. "A 'warm' call is more appropriate. All the alternative communications methods provide a reasonable resource to find out about businesses before you show up at their door. Even a little information conveys to your prospect that you are interested in doing business with him, not just business in general."