Posted on Harvard Business Review: March 25, 2010 4:42 PM
As social media and web applications have become the hottest networking tools in business, too many sales managers are burying the cold call as an obsolete business practice. If you fall in this category I've got news for you: the cold call is not only alive, it's kicking. And it should be utilized by every B2B sales force.
I see far too many sales teams focus all their attention toward hosting fancy webinars or creating snazzy web-based marketing channels. Still, cold calling remains the most effective way to set up appointments with the right decision makers at your target accounts. A Fortune 50 wireless telecom company hired our firm to train their sales force in the ways of cold calls, and saw a 10% jump in revenue after implementing the tips below. Other clients have seen similar leaps in meetings or demos scheduled, from 20-100%.
So how can you convert phone tactics into actual results? Here are four cold calling tips that will make the sale:
1. Get the direct line of the person that you are cold calling. This doubles the probability of the person answering the phone.
2. Separate your cold calling into two activities: prospecting to find the right person, and call blitzing to get that person on the phone. I recommend prospecting during normal business hours (starting around 10-11:30 am) when administrative assistants are in the office and call blitzing during "call windows," before 8:30 am and after 5:30 pm when admins are gone. Some other great times to call are five minutes before the top of the hour, catching the executives before their next conference call meetings, and holidays like President's Day, when executives are likely to be in the office and other business may be slow.
3. Know the difference between persistence and annoyance. Follow these rules of thumb to be professional while consistently reaching out to prospects: manage the flow of information (make sure it's a constant flow), personalize each message, vary the medium (use an alternating combination of voicemails and emails), and always add value with each subsequent touch.
4. Utilize online resources. There are so many new tools to help you out, including information sources like LinkedIn, Jigsaw, InsideView, and ZoomInfo. With ConnectAndSell you can even outsource your dialing and block an hour to sit at your desk to only talk to live prospects when they get a "connect."
These techniques have helped us set up thousands of sales appointments with strategic executives at target companies. With a good cold calling effort, you can propel your sales team to higher productivity.
What cold-call tactics would you add to this list?