Cold Calling Isn’t Dead: What You Should Do to Close More Sales

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Cold calling is a key technique for sales and marketing teams.

Despite its reputation among marketing and sales professionals as a thankless task, with 63% of sales representatives identifying it as the worst part of their jobs, the results don’t lie: Small Biz Genius reports that 82% of buyers say they have gone on to accept meetings with representatives that began with a cold call. 

Some may go so far as to say that the traditional cold call is ineffective, unproductive or even dead. Rather than cold calling being ineffective, many companies are finding that it’s the “cold” that is dead, not the call itself.

It may be that a new, updated method of calling supports a more successful strategy.

Explore why excellent customer service is essential to your marketing efforts

A Digital Love Affair

The marketing industry is in the infatuation stage with digital marketing.

A click of a mouse allows marketers to reach broad audiences through automated email marketing and social media campaigns. They may be led to believe that it is possible to simply sit back and allow an automated platform to do the work of increasing sales revenue. 

There is an important reason why this love affair should not consume all of your marketing focus. While customer relationship management (CRM) and automated marketing platforms do provide invaluable tools for keeping data organized and scheduling campaigns, these tools come up short when evaluated for lead generation.

Their benefits improve marketing efforts when it comes to relieving manual tasks and personalizing content distribution with specific messages, but these benefits are not enough.

The problem is that these tools cannot replace human interaction. Without a personal relationship, it is almost impossible to improve B2B lead generation and, more importantly, convert those leads to customers. 

Cold calls may also serve as a differentiator for a brand as companies abandon the practice for methods that their sales representatives find more appealing, such as digital marketing techniques like e-mailing, and Social Media messaging. 

You’ve Reached a Number That Has Been Disconnected

When it comes to cold calling, there is a disconnect between perception and reality.

Sales representatives and marketers may view it as an old-fashioned technique, but it remains a critical part of the sales process. The numbers indicate there is good reason to retain calling as part of a successful strategy:

  • 69% of buyers report that they accepted one or more cold calls in 2019.
  • 82% of buyers say that they have completed purchases that began with a series of calls from a salesperson. 
  • Almost 51% of company owners say they would rather hear from sales reps via phone compared to email, a drop-in visit, and other media, according to phone call statistics.
  • 57% of C-level executives say they value information from phone calls with sales reps.

IN ADDITION

  • 78% of sales representatives who utilize social media say that using social media to research prospects helps them perform better on cold calls. 
  • Representatives must make an average of 18 calls to reach one potential buyer.
  • After reaching a prospect, salespeople need to make an average of 5 successful follow-up calls to close a deal.

Numbers like these can serve as a catalyst for a successful calling campaign, or if implemented poorly, a campaign may drain resources, hurt productivity, and damage morale among sales representatives. The key is directing a campaign that is structured to generate leads, with clear objectives for the call.

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The Role of INTENT and FIT in Calling Campaigns

A calling campaign must be shaped around INTENT and FIT:

Intent is the tracking of actions, inquiries, and buying signals through the data research available online, or having a skilled representative ask a set of questions (BANT) to uncover INTENT.

Intent allows marketers to see a bigger and broader perspective on a lead, giving critical information that can be used to prioritize leads according to their online behaviors, as well as helping identify leads that are not a good match for the product or service. Intent offers the following benefits:

  • It presents the sales team with those leads most likely to convert and boosts conversion rates.
  • Based on browsing and search history, it’s possible to determine the timeline for any lead’s potential purchase.
  • It allows you to accurately identify decision-makers in a B2B sale.

Fit heightens the effectiveness of intent by determining which leads most exactly match your ideal customer profile, resulting in higher lead conversions. Fit takes the data and adds in a personal relationship to identify ideal leads. 

While intent data can be gathered without human interactions, in order to achieve a truly qualified lead, there must be a human-to-human conversation that validates the Fit of the lead. An effective Intent + Fit calling campaign may require interactions with multiple people in one organization to understand how a team is making purchasing decisions in a B2B setting. 

Here’s how intent data provides key insights into the activities of B2B buyers

INTENT Plus FIT Gives You the Edge 

What the intent + fit model offers is different from traditional cold calling. It is a calling model that improves the return on investment by improving the likelihood that each individual call will eventually result in a sale. Beginning with better data (intent) and then identifying whether the lead matches the profile of the customer the company is pursuing (fit) improves conversions. 

In one phone call, a marketer can gather a wealth of information, important details about the lead that could take months to collect through digital channels, if it is collected at all including:

  • The decision-makers and influencers impact the buying decision.
  • The timeline and budget of the purchase
  • Reservations and questions surrounding the product/service.
  • The types of information, content, and the buying process (interaction) the customer expects from a potential vendor.

These are a few examples of the types of details that can be gathered in a single call, which may be difficult to ascertain in a relationship taking place entirely over digital platforms. 

CLICK HERE for Determining the Return on Investment for Your Marketing Strategy

Warm Calling is the New Cold Calling

While cold calling is a familiar concept in marketing and sales, not everyone is familiar with warm calling. Warm calling is an outbound sales strategy that focuses on dialing, connecting with, and having productive conversations on the phone with prospects who are qualified through intent practices. 

By definition, warm calls are made only to leads who have been determined to be qualified buyers and have been nurtured (or warmed) to some degree through intent and analysis. This approach tends to be devoid of common cold-calling obstacles like bad contact information, gatekeepers, poor timing, and objections.

Warm calling is important because it provides sales leads that are more interested and informed about the company’s products or services, as well as about the value propositions and benefits they can expect.

It provides leads that are more qualified, have higher buying intent, and match the company’s ideal customer (Fit).

Warm leads also advance through the sales cycle quicker, since their expressed interest typically means they are actively seeking a product/service similar to what the company offers, resulting in less time spent in the education phase and more time to focus on the value and benefits specific to them.

Blue Valley Marketing helps a company eliminate “cold calling” and provides the client’s sales team with pre-qualified actionable leads before they dial. We ensure that calls are made to prospects who demonstrate need and fit for the product or service. The results are more effective and productive; warm dialing delivers a much higher ROI than cold calling since every contact is qualified. 

The Science of Successful Warm Calling

To successfully create and run a warm calling program, a company must begin with a list of contacts who meet the minimum requirements to be deemed a warm lead through the use of intent data.

There are three ways a company can get this. 

The first is to find leads in the database that are already warm. These may be leads from an event, a webinar, or who consistently engage with high-value pages on the company website.

Second, a company may leverage a CRM to generate a list of existing contacts that are qualified buyers and warm them with a campaign before placing a call. 

Last, before engaging in a campaign, the sales and marketing teams may ask whether the sales team should be expected to follow up on old leads. It may be advantageous to partner with a third party like Blue Valley Marketing to create an effective warm calling campaign. 

CLICK HERE to find out why you should Never Let Sales Reps Touch Aging Leads

What Qualifies a Lead as Warm?

This is where intent + fit comes in: 

First, they must be a good fit as a customer. They should meet or exceed the minimum buying requirements, and be a close fit to the ideal customer profile.

Second, they should have demonstrated intent to buy. There are two primary ways to determine intent. The marketing team should look for intent signals through engagement with content, emails, website, and other digital channels.

The more a potential lead engages with content (especially content designed for people nearing a buying decision) the more likely they are to buy. Another key way to determine intent is to use data providers that specialize in bringing the most accurate contact and intent data to their users, like SalesIntel

SalesIntel not only assists companies with the firmographic data to qualify the prospect, but it is also useful for identifying buying signals to identify the ready-to-buy prospects and focus on converting them into sales opportunities.

Whether a company continues to use traditional cold calling or decides to tighten up the calling strategy with warm calling, it is critical that there is a clear measurement of the return on investment for lead generation. 

Click here to access the Blue Valley Marketing ROI calculator. 

Side Stepping Cold Calling Through Preparation, Warm Engagements, and More

Not all companies will have the luxury of immediate access to a list of suitably warm contacts to engage with for their warm calling campaigns, especially if they don’t employ the specialized services of businesses like Blue Valley Marketing and SalesIntel. 

After all, plenty of startups and up-and-coming businesses are just breaking into their respective industry. Meaning they won’t have any databases of clients or old leads to rely on going forward. 

They’ll be starting from scratch and likely be uncertain about how to proceed with warm calling techniques. They may not even know what warm calling is and jump right into an ineffective cold calling campaign that ends up getting them nowhere fast.

However, companies can utilize several tips and strategies to quickly warm new leads and usher them through the sales cycle to convert a sale rapidly. The key is to prepare ahead of time and create warm relationships with prospective leads before reaching out to them by phone. 

Identify Good Fit Companies for Your Warming Campaign 

The best prospective leads are ones that look similar to the customers you’ve already conducted business with. While this won’t mean much for entirely new companies who’ve yet to close a deal, for fledgling companies with a few completed sales under their belt, it can be the start of a new campaign that will help them make a successful step into the market. 

Similar clients will have similar pains, meaning they’ll be easier to cater to and sell to. Study the personas of your most successful past buyers and learn to recognize the characteristics of ideal buyers by identifying their key similarities. 

The more deals you close, the better you’ll be able to pinpoint ideal leads. 

Research These Good Fit Companies

An essential component of warm calling is thorough preparation. You can’t deliver good value to potential leads if you don’t know their needs and what they care about, after all. 

At a minimum, you’ll want to gather some basic background information before reaching out. Such as:

  • How long they’ve been in business
  • Who their executives and other key players are
  • Their number of employees
  • Their value proposition

This information can help you determine their potential problems and whether or not you can solve them while also allowing you to make a more human connection when you finally reach out. Do some online research and pay special attention to LinkedIn and social media information.

From there, you can develop your perfect opening to quickly get their attention and demonstrate the value you can provide. You only have approximately 15 seconds to do this, so it’s essential to make it count. You’ll also be able to better prepare critical talking points ahead of time by leveraging the information you find.

Ask Open-Ended Questions & Identify Pain Points

Even though you’ve determined a prospective lead is a good fit for your services, you’ll want to assess their needs and interest when you contact them by asking open-ended questions. This tactic will also prompt a more engaging conversation, resulting in a better connection with the lead.

From those open-ended questions, you can start to identify trigger events and pain points that your company can address. Take careful note of the issues they’re struggling with that your service or product may be able to solve for them.

If you can prove you have something valuable to offer that will correct the issues they’re having, you’ll be more likely to win them over and make an eventual sale. 

Keep Calls Short

Even if you’ve determined that a lead would make an optimal client and that your product or service would fix their problems, you need to remember that your first warm call is still technically an interruption to their daily operations.

Use your better judgment if the conversation is going well, but always be respectful of their time.

At the five-minute mark in the call, ask whether they have a few more minutes to keep talking or if they’d like you to email the rest of your information. Find out if any additional parties should be included in the email, and you’ll be good to go.

Remember that your first call is just an opening, so don’t worry about cramming as much information into the conversation as possible. Not only will the lead be unlikely to remember everything, but it may turn them off to what you’re offering altogether.

Your goal should be to leave your lead knowing that you’ll be the point of contact to solve their business problems and meet their needs as you advance.

If You Don’t Get an Answer, Leave a Voicemail

There’s always a chance that your lead won’t pick up when you call. While you may be tempted to end things there and move on to the next potential lead, you shouldn’t give up so quickly.

Remember that voicemails can be a valuable touchpoint between businesses, even if they don’t promote a call back from the lead. This is because voicemails provide an opportunity to add value to a future conversation and build up your credibility with the lead.

Some practical tips to utilize when leaving a voicemail include:

  • Offer one or two quick tips, and note that you’re happy to provide more if the lead is interested in further communication.
  • Foreshadow some of the helpful resources, strategies, and expertise your company will provide via a follow-up email (see tip six below).

 Follow Up Via an Email, and Call Again

Taking the time to follow up with an email will enhance your visibility in the eyes of leads, making them more likely to open and respond to your message after you’ve spoken with them over the phone. This will also happen if they listen to the voicemail you left and they recognize your name. 

Even if this doesn’t work, it’ll at least increase your chances of positively connecting with them later via another channel.

Adhering to these steps can allow you to develop a list of quality new warm leads to begin an effective warm calling campaign that will convert into more sales.

However, it should be noted that these strategies won’t be as effective as utilizing the expert services of professional industry partners like Blue Valley Marketing and SalesIntel. That said, they’ll still provide you with a place to start when it comes to breaking into the warm calling world. 

At the very least, the process should help businesses develop a new list of warm leads that can be leveraged later.

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What Does Blue Valley Marketing Offer in a Warm Calling Strategy? 

Blue Valley Marketing identifies the intent of each prospect and provides sales professionals and marketers with those leads that represent the best fit for their growth strategies. This is achieved in a number of ways:

  • A targeted campaign that helps identify the leads most likely to convert, making note of factors like their decision-making timeline, budget, and the decision-makers involved in the process.
  • Qualified leads are invited to video conferences that provide key opportunities for answering questions, overcoming obstacles, and providing that extra nudge that a lead may need for conversion.
  • Limited webinars in which small groups are assembled for product or service presentations, optimizing the opportunity for lead nurturing and conversion.

Through a warm calling strategy, leads are broken into three distinctive types:

BANT – This lead has a qualified decision-maker and/or influencer. Connection with the company has secured the answer to four key questions: budget, authority, needs, and timeline. This company/person is ready for direct sales follow-up and should be made a priority to engage with, one on one.

SQL – (Sales Qualified Lead) – The connection has qualified a decision-maker and/or influencer. The call secured the answers to some but not all qualification questions (budget, authority, needs, and timeline). This company/person is ready for direct sales follow-up.

MQL – (Marketing Qualified Lead) – The connection engaged a decision-maker and/or influencer.  The call identified the answer to some, but not all, qualification questions (budget, authority, needs, and timeline). This company/person is a qualified contact that should be entered at the top of the sales funnel for immediate nurturing by the sales team.

Conclusion

“It is the cold that is dead—not the calling.” 

Technology plays a key role in marketing, but it can never replace human-to-human interactions for understanding a lead’s intent and fit for a product. In a time when simply picking up the phone can differentiate any brand from its competitors, Blue Valley Marketing can help a company make the most of its best asset: personal connection.

No matter what lead generation strategy a company is using, it is critical to include calling prospects as part of a successful plan. SalesIntel and Blue Valley Marketing are the perfect combination for a complete lead generation strategy, boosting connections and accelerating prospecting, as well as shortening the sales cycle and ultimately delivering increased revenue. 

To experience the potential of the warm calling technique, request a meeting today.

SalesIntel and Blue Valley Marketing is the perfect pairing for sales reps, boosting connections, accelerating prospecting, shortening the sales cycle, and ultimately delivering revenue.

Are you ready to adopt the modern-day cold-warm calling approach? Contact Blue Valley today!

About Blue Valley Marketing

Since 1991, Blue Valley Marketing has supported businesses operating in B2B markets, media and publishing industries.

Blue Valley Marketing focuses on services related to brand development, new business development, and lead generation services

 Each campaign centered on the core belief that in every business decision, the relationship and connection between people are central and critical to success. Even as digital channels have exploded on the marketing scene, the relationship-building value that Blue Valley Telemarketing provides remains a core part of effective campaigns. 

About SalesIntel

SalesIntel is in business to make the lives of sales and marketing professionals easier.

With every record hand-verified by a team of researchers, they guarantee 95% accurate data. With sales and marketing teams shouldering the responsibility for the existence and growth of their organizations, the goal of SalesIntel is to equip them with the highest quality data in the market.

Last Updated on November 20, 2023 by Ronen Ben-Dror

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