In recent years, there has been a widespread debate across the blogosphere concerning cold calling.
Some marketing pundits see cold calling as dead due to the changing nature of business communication, with more people using VoIP, social media platforms and/or email on their cell phones to engage with prospective or current service providers and business associates. Yet cold calling is far from dead, especially in B2B marketing, where it is easy to research your leads thoroughly before calling.
Although some marketers insist that inbound marketing is all that matters, outbound methods such as cold calling should be included in your strategy for a varied B2B marketing approach that covers all bases.
Check out the following 6 tips that will help you nail your B2B cold calling efforts.
1. Have a Clean and Regularly Updated Contact Database
Your list of prospects is the most important factor when it comes to conducting successful B2B cold calling campaigns.
Given that data decay is a real thing and that it can practically render 30-50% of your list useless in just a year, it’s crucial to clean it and remove the obsolete contacts and update it with some fresh data.
Otherwise, you risk wasting your time trying to reach people who might have changed their company, position, or phone number.
When we’re talking about updating your list, it’s also a good idea to get rid of the contacts that aren’t particularly interested in your offer. Although many salespeople dread the idea of shrinking their list, it’s much better to know where you stand.
By removing all those who persistently don’t take your calls or cancel on your meetings, you’ll be able to focus only on the leads that deserve your time and energy. Albeit decimated, such a contact list will be much more valuable, so don’t hesitate to call it quits when you see that someone isn’t the right fit.
One of the best ways to ensure a high degree of success is to use prospects whose profiles are similar to those of businesses that you have successfully pitched to before.
If we bear in mind that you need to combine your cold calling strategy with email marketing, Autoklose can be the best option for you as it comes with a huge database brimming with millions of regularly scrubbed and updated B2B leads from the U.S. and Canada. That way you’ll always have a way to top up your list with high-quality prospects and pick them among different industries.
2. Do Your Research
Knowing as much as possible about a business is a must when performing B2B cold calling.
When you want to call someone for the first time and offer your product or service, you should be absolutely prepared. It’s essential to understand the industry and a specific niche that your prospect is in, understand most common as well as some specific pain points and challenges they face, and finally, be very well informed about the particular business that you’re pitching to.
This means that doing detailed research and preparing your notes for the call. I don’t think that having a script is a good idea because it reminds me of that artificial laughter in sitcoms, but having your ideas and the information you collected on the prospect in the form of a bulleted text is a good idea so that you can easily find relevant stats and data.
If you call someone and press the right buttons by mentioning some of the issues that they struggle on a daily basis and offering a solution, you won’t come off as yet another annoying telemarketer who simply wants to sell their product to no matter who only in order to make some profit.
This approach gives you a huge benefit of knowing and understanding your prospect and being able to ask the right questions and provide the right answers.
Another important thing is that you’ll be capable of reframing the situation to your own favor and presenting your product or service in the best light by stressing the benefits that are important to your prospects.
In addition to searching for useful information on Google and your prospects’ websites, social media platforms such as LinkedIn or Facebook can provide valuable information to incorporate into your cold calling campaign.
3. To Script or Not to Script?
I’ve already briefly mentioned my take on this topic, but given that we’re talking about something that is a make-it-or-break-it factor in every cold call, it’s important to discuss it further.
You have only about 15 seconds to capture your prospect’s attention and you’d better make this sort time count.
The best television dramas and films aren’t ad-libbed – a polished script often makes the difference between a smash hit and a dud.
The same goes for cold calling – planning what you will say is an essential aspect of securing leads.
But if you have an entire script that you’ve learned by heart in front of yourself, your prospects will be able to spot it and that’s the moment when they’ll stop listening. What a modern customer wants is a natural, conversational approach. When you’re reading your script or try to memorize it to the tiniest detail, your narrative gets a certain robotic quality which isn’t appealing to your prospects.
Remember that successful cold calling is a two-way conversation and not a monologue. So, instead of writing down your speech and blindly following it, come up with the most relevant questions that you’d like to ask your prospect, and keep your introduction brief and to the point.
When you’re doing cold calling, the trick to be a good listener, so, ditch that artificial script, learn as much as possible about your prospects, make a draft with the most important points and information that you need to have, and start actually talking with the people you call.
Grasp that subtle distinction of talking WITH someone instead of talking TO them.
And one more thing: leave the extensive information, such as the product information or the finer points of what you are hoping to gain through a business partnership for a face-to-face meeting or a demo.
4. Learn How to Stop Worrying and Embrace Rejection
Sometimes no matter how well you prepare, your plans might go awry and your prospects might say that dreaded “No!”
And that’s one of the main reasons why salespeople don’t like cold calling – the idea that they’ll be rejected and get a cold shoulder sends shivers down their spines.
But the truth is that the world isn’t going to collapse if your prospect doesn’t want to buy from you. The same goes for your company.
So, instead of being overly dramatic about this, learn how to accept rejection without sacrificing your self-confidence.
Here are some tips on how to handle this unpleasant scenario:
- Don’t take it personally! It’s not you, it’s them – your prospects might not need a new solution right now. They might not have a budget for it. Or simply, they’re maybe dealing with some internal issues that are their No.1 priority.
- Ask why. In order to stop blaming yourself, it’s crucial to ask them why they didn’t want to accept your offer. Maybe it’s even a tiny detail in your proposal that put them off, but you won’t know that unless you ask. This insight will help you with your next cold call.
- Be prepared to hear it. Rejection is a common part of the sales process, so don’t get upset too much.
- Be persistent. Even if your prospect said no this time, maybe their circumstances will change in the future, so don’t give up on them. Try to stay on their radar by dropping an occasional line – but don’t send them just anything. Use what you know about them to provide them with blog posts, industry reports, and other resources that they will find useful. And who knows, maybe the next time you get in touch, they will change their mind.
Check out our blog post on some of the biggest mistakes that could cost you a deal, as we discuss overcoming the discomfort of selling and cold outreach.
5. Keep Track of Call and Response Data
Cold calling has additional uses besides establishing the first contact with businesses that might be interested in a mutually profitable venture. The data that you can gather through an extended campaign alone may give you an idea of which businesses will be amenable to forging a professional relationship with you.
Keeping a record of the calls you have made and the responses received will also help you to avoid the embarrassment of accidentally calling the same prospect multiple times.
Keeping notes on each call is also useful for gaining additional insight into the businesses you approach. This insight will help you to hone your cold calling approach so that the following calls are likely to be more successful.
6. Keep your Eyes on your End Goal
One of the problems of cold calling is that many SMB owners lose motivation after being turned down a few times.
Like an aspiring fiction writer who has to deal with rejection letters in the hope of finding that life-changing publishing contract, cold calling requires keeping focused on your end goal and using every bit of information gained during the process to perfect your approach.
Even a cold “No!” from a prospect can be useful, as you might obtain some information over the course of the pitch (as mentioned above).
As an example, a prospect might provide a direct reason why they are not interested at the moment, and such reasons can provide valuable insight into what steps should be taken to position you for greater success.
If you follow these basic tips for cold calling and persist in following up on well-researched prospects by making well-planned calls, you are likely to add valuable outbound B2B marketing returns that round out your combined inbound and outbound strategies.