Cold calling for hot leads

At a time when digital marketing seems to be the mode of choice for lead generation, making cold calls may seem outdated or inefficient. Marketing experts remain confident, however, that picking up the phone can still be the fastest and most efficient way to reach out to customers.

Prepare your strategy

The first step in a successful cold calling campaign is to compile and research a list of potential clients. Geoffrey James with CBS News suggested looking for clients whose needs and objectives mirror those of your current customers.

Creating a script or outline of points to make during the cold call can help give your conversation structure, James reminded, although he also noted the importance of feeling comfortable speaking about the topics from memory, so as not to sound impersonal or scripted. You should also draft a list of potential questions or hesitations that customers may voice, and consider which responses you can make to most effectively maintain conversation.

Face your fears

Veterans of the marketing industry understand the fear that many feel at the prospect of making cold calls, worried about coming across as abrasive, intrusive or outright obnoxious. That doesn’t have to be the case, said Barry Farber, marketing professional and Inc. magazine contributor. Farber shared his success as a cold caller, connecting with new clients over telephone or in person. Among his tips was a reminder to value every connection made during a cold call.

“Never underestimate the person sitting at the front desk,” he said. “They may have more knowledge or influence than you think.”

Farber noted the importance of learning names at the company where you’re calling, from the receptionist to the CEO, which helps form a more personal connection. Focus your introduction not on yourself, said Farber, but on the company where you are cold calling. Ask them about their business’s goals and strategy. If you visit the potential client in person, consider requesting a tour of the business or the opportunity to set up a formal or informal meeting with the client. Each of these steps can help you better understand the customer, and allow you to customize how you advertise your company and its services.

The goal of a successful cold call, said Farber, should be to forge a personal connection. That way, even if a company is not currently in need of your services, marketing your brand and services memorably will make you a more likely candidate for future collaboration.

Keep positive and keep going

Making cold calls without gaining any ground can quickly grow frustrating. Farber reminded cold callers to remain optimistic and persistent in conducting lead generation for small businesses. Make goals, but also set aside time to review strategies that have been responded to positively or negatively, and consider how you can alter your approach for more positive results.

Chicago Now contributor and long-time cold caller Teppi Jacobsen also reminded readers of the importance of recognizing the fine line between ambitious and obnoxious.

“I have always made a point to know when it’s time to say goodbye,” she said.

Using a personal experience speaking with a pushy cold caller, Jacobsen illustrated how even the best cold calling methods can turn sour if the caller does not listen to a customer’s needs. When a potential client seems truly unresponsive, you can offer your name and contact information or website, and then thank the the customer for taking the time to speak with you. A polite and positive end to your introductory conversation will more likely lead to collaboration in the future.

What experiences and tips do you have to share about cold calling?

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