“Please, no more cold calling,” I thought, as I approached hour seven of cold outreach.
That was how I used slow traffic days when I sold cars, now over 20 years ago.
If it was raining, snowing, or sometimes a long weekend, prospects wandering into the little dealership I worked at were few and far between.
It was almost a fight amongst the four other salesmen and me as to who got the next lead, our system of taking turns out the window.
Cold calling was a way to try to reconnect.
I spent time calling past customers of the dealership, old friends whom I hadn’t seen since high school, and just straight-up strangers who had somehow left behind contact information at the dealership in the past.
It’s a tough way to make a living.
Fortunately, with the advent of the internet and social media, no more cold calling can be a reality in many businesses once thought to rely on this as a key lead generation strategy.
Does Cold Calling Still Work in 2021?
In my experience, cold calling still works.
The main reason for this is that everyone carries a phone.
Where a cold call once required that someone actually be sitting next to the phone (to answer), nowadays everyone carries their phone with them.
You might argue that with call display, there is a greater chance your call will be ignored, and I’d agree.
If you are relegated to leaving a voice message, have no fear. Leaving a message is always a great way to start warming up a call.
People hear your voice.
You have the opportunity to explain why you are calling.
Additionally, you can provide a small call to action like “text me back” or “watch your email.”
What Is the Success Rate of Cold Calling?
A recent study conducted by the Rain Group suggests that 69% of buyers report accepting one or more cold calls.
Additionally, 82% of buyers say they have accepted meetings with salespeople after a series of contacts beginning with sales cold calls.
In short, cold calls still work, if you can stomach them.
I advise all of my coaching clients to use a hybrid approach.
Use a cold call in conjunction with other strategies to connect.
My personal favourite is making the call to reference an email I’m about to send.
My clients have found this increases the open rate of emails by up to 40%.
Not bad for a two-minute voice message.
If cold calling still isn’t for you, there are other strategies you can use that can be just as effective.
Five Strategies to Move Away from Cold Calling
In some situations, cold calling may not be an effective option.
If you are trying to cold call doctors or dentists, for example, who spend much of their time with patients, it may be difficult to ever reach your prospect.
I’ve never known a funeral director to make cold calls when business is slow. Doing so may be seen as poor taste. ☺
Here, then, are five strategies to move away from cold calling:
1. Create awareness.
Cold calling is about creating awareness of you and your product or service. There are other ways to do this, although they aren’t all as effective.
Using social media is the obvious option. Unfortunately, many people don’t use social media correctly. The goal is to build close relationships, not vague generalities.
Use LinkedIn to connect and start a conversation.
Connect via Facebook and use Messenger to start a dialogue.
The goal isn’t to send a bunch of mass messages via software, but to build genuine discussions.
2. Build targeted resources.
If you know your prospect (and you should), then create resources that will be helpful to them.
Create a checklist that will make their challenges easier. Offer a free sample that will ease their circumstance.
The goal is to recognize exactly what your prospect wants, and then provide them a sampling of what you can offer.
3. Use direct mail.
Direct mail may no longer be popular, but it still works.
Sending mail directly to your prospect can be an effective way to start a relationship. Of course, what you send has to be helpful, and you want to avoid appearing to be spam, but if you do so effectively, you can open plenty of doors.
Personally, I’m still a fan of sending a hand-written card as a way to introduce myself.
The good news is that most people don’t use direct mail, therefore you’ll stand out in whatever you send.
4. Warm up the call.
When it comes to avoiding cold calling, the obvious solution is to use referrals.
Have other satisfied customers, colleagues, or friends help you connect with those whom you can help.
Joanne Black wrote a great book titled “No More Cold Calling” in which she details an approach to building a referral system.
My suggestion, however, is to keep it simple.
Make a list of everyone you want to connect with, and then determine who in your network may in fact know them or be acquainted.
LinkedIn is another great resource to assist in this endeavour.
Once you’ve identified an opportunity for a referral, reach out and ask for an introduction.
5. Get in front of them.
Reducing reliance on cold calling can be done if you become so well known that people turn to you for help.
Just look at brands like Kleenex or Ski-Doo.
Their brands are so well known that the name of their product has become the default name of the product they supply.
You don’t ask for a tissue, you ask for a Kleenex.
You don’t ride a snowmobile, you ride a Ski-Doo.
The more you can get in front of your prospects through networking, writing, and speaking, the better.
The Right Strategy for You
To reduce your reliance on cold calling, pick an approach you feel most comfortable with AND that works.
Test some of the different variations I’ve outlined above, and determine what is most effective.
Then develop a system to repeat your success over and over.
© Shawn Casemore 2021. All Rights Reserved.
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