The business of cold calling can cause a lot of debate. Is cold calling dead? Are people still even using their phones? Does the internet replace the need for salespeople who can engage in a real conversation?
While online marketing and sales programs play a large part in an overall strategy, there is still a real need for decision makers and key evaluators to have conversations with experienced salespeople for B2B sales.
At this level, it’s important for prospects to feel heard, and to trust that their business pains and needs will be met with proper solutions.
For most businesses offering high-ticket products, solutions, and services, an integrated approach of content marketing and targeted calling programs is the best way to build a successful sales pipeline.
So, why does cold calling get such a bad reputation?
In my experience, cold calling receives negative press because many organizations do it poorly.
Successful B2B cold calling requires expertise and business acumen and many teams fall short of these necessary skills.
As a principal of a firm offering elite cold calling services for complex B2B sales, I have the opportunity to meet with managers and leaders who have tried cold calling programs and failed to see a positive ROI.
The following are common reasons why some cold calling programs fail:
The Wrong Audience
There are two players in every phone call: the caller and the prospect, and each is equally important. If a cold caller is casting a wide net with little regard to the prospect list, the results will be disappointing.
Having a targeted list with the right names, at the right level, plays a large part in determining the outcome of a call. Cold calling can be successful in all types of industries – business solutions, complex products, healthcare, etc. but only if the solution is the right fit.
A cold caller must understand the industry into which he or she is calling, be able to discuss that industry using the correct terminology, and be prepared to provide examples of how the solution they are representing has helped others in a similar sector.
If a caller reaches out to prospects who will find no value in what is being offered, it is a waste of their time and can have a negative impact on the reputation and brand of the company being represented.
Additionally, the position of a prospect at a company is important. Complex sales must have the involvement and approval of key decision makers within an organization. A top-down approach is a proven method for successful B2B cold calling. Getting stuck at the lower levels of a company is a common misstep for inexperienced callers who don’t have the skills necessary to navigate an organization and get in front of C-level decision makers.
This brings us to the next common reason many cold calling programs fail….
Most of us have been on the receiving end of a bad sales call: those from inexperienced callers relying on a scripted pitch in the hopes of setting an appointment and then getting off the phone as quickly as possible.
Complex B2B sales absolutely require a caller with business experience, and the ability to have an entire conversation with a decision maker. They must be able to answer follow-up questions and answer knowledgeably about the service, product, or solution they are offering.
There are certainly a few methods that can be employed to spark the interest of a prospect and get them to stay on the phone a little longer, but if that is not followed up with a real understanding of business and the industry that is being targeted, there is little chance the call will go anywhere.
Experienced callers know how to ask the right questions and then listen enough to uncover the business pains that will determine if a prospect can become a qualified lead.
This leads us to another reason why many cold calling programs fail…
We’ve written other articles about the risks and pitfalls of appointment-only lead generation, but it bears repeating here as well. A pay-per-performance sales model does not support a successful lead generation campaign where complex solutions, products or services are involved.
In any cold calling program, but especially when outsourcing B2B sales calls, a pay-for-performance or appointment setting model is not going to produce the qualified leads that can result in a positive ROI.
The goal of a successful B2B sales call is to create an engaging, meaningful interaction with a decision maker and ask the questions that will reveal them to be a sales-qualified lead, and only then move on to the next steps.
If an outsourced company promises to produce a list leads with a low up-front cost, it may be appealing at first but could end up costing more money in the long run.
An abundance of lightly qualified leads is not going to lead to a healthy pipeline. Furthermore, if appointments are set with lightly qualified leads it is likely that those appointments will be a waste of time and could damage your credibility.
A Lack of Consistency
A B2B sales representative must be comfortable reaching out and making multiple touches – upwards of 8 to 10 – to prospects in order to connect with them and be able to engage in a conversation. This takes consistency and an understanding of when to pursue and when to back-off.
A successful cold caller should be able to evaluate a situation when they have reached out multiple times but haven’t received a response. It’s important to take into consideration what sort of prospect it is, understand why there may be a delay, and follow up appropriately.
There are best practices to be followed when making multiple attempts to contact a prospect. If the caller doesn’t have the experience to follow these practices, there is a risk of a cold calling program falling flat. Knowing how to create a sense of urgency and leaving an appropriate voicemail can really make a difference in the number of decision makers that are reached and qualified.
If your cold calling programs have failed in the past, it is very possible it had to do with a lack of consistency and persistence from the callers.
Finally, many cold calling programs are considered unsuccessful because the timeline set at the beginning was inappropriate.
The sales cycle is long for complex B2B sales and can take several months before results are achieved or can be calculated.
It’s imperative that a reasonable timeline is put in place at the outset of a cold calling program, and that goals are set based on this timeline. Regular progress reports are important, and a program can be tweaked along the way, but pulling the plug on a cold calling program that doesn’t produce immediate results can be a mistake.
B2B Cold Calling Has A Place in Successful Sales Programs
B2B cold calling is a very successful, and necessary, method for complex sales. Unfortunately, many people don’t believe it works because they have been on the receiving end of some very bad calls. Stories of negative calls tend to circulate more rapidly than positive ones.
If you’ve had an unsuccessful experience with cold calling previously, consider the reasons listed above that may have lead to its failure.
There are cold calling programs that work and produce a fantastic ROI. JMS Elite has been running successful outsourced calling programs for 17 years and understands just what is necessary to make them work.
If you’re interested in learning more about successful B2B cold calling programs contact us to learn more about our capabilities and proven methodologies.