Cold Calling. The phrase elicits the same shudder as the now infamous TPS quote from Office Space. We all got the memo. Cold calling has changed; it's no longer the same fanatical rite of passage for unpaid interns who are hoping to get the coveted slot on the paid sales team. However, for as much as cold calling has changed, it is important to note that it is not gone, nor is it demand generation.
What Is Demand Generation?
Demand generation should not be mistaken for cold calling. At its core, demand generation marketing focuses on every touchpoint that buyers have on their journey from prospect to active customer. The four main segments of demand generation include: inbound marketing, client retention, sales enablement, and brand awareness. With these touchpoints in mind, cold calling is not the same as a proven demand generation strategy. Although, that is not to say that cold calling isn't effective. In fact, if you adjust your mentality, stop trying to slap lipstick on a pig, and accept that the era of cold calling has been replaced by big data and actionable insights, then you could in theory use cold calling to help your demand generation marketing campaigns.
Ushering In A New Era Of Cold Calling Based On Data
In the past, cold calling was effective because we were trusting. We, the consumers, didn't screen our communications. If someone called us and seemed truly interested in helping resolve our challenges, then we politely listened, offered a better contact number, and moved about our day only to be pleasantly surprised when the sales associate actually followed up.
Times have changed.
We are no longer trusting of random calls (or emails for that matter). Instead, we carefully screen who can contact us and how they can take up our precious time. After the birth of the Internet, the rise of the dotcoms, the beginning of a social media revolution, and the age of data theft, we (the consumers) have become wary of unsolicited offers for help. Instead, we want to know that a sales associate actually has the answers before we either pick up the call or answer the email.
Before you stop reading in a fit of despair, take a deep breath because the good news is right below the page break. Cold calling isn't dead, it has simply adjusted to the era of big data. The good news is that you can embrace your inner Ross and effectively "pivot" with the changing of the times.
Pivot To Embrace Research.
Big data gives us all of the insights that we need to effectively kick cold calling to the curb. In fact, with just a bit of research and the right CRM you can learn a copious amount about your prospects and leads. LinkedIn, Twitter, the company's team page, Medium.com ... the list of resources is endless. Unless you are contacting the unpaid intern, chances are that your lead has a published bio, blog post, social media commentary, networking photo, or some time of digital footprint that can give you valuable insights into their professionally life. Use these insights to your advantage so that you can know more about your lead before you even contemplate picking up the phone. After all, big data removes the "Banksy factor" from cold calling, and in doing so gives you everything that you need to start slowly nudging your prospect into the buyer's funnel.
Nudge, Don't Push.
Cold calling seems pushy; in fact, it is. Now, nudging (while not the greatest gerund in the world), is a fantastic descriptor when it comes to the new approach towards gently encouraging leads to open the door towards their buyer's journey. Soft touches are one of the way that you can warm up the prospect to the idea of purchasing your products or services. You can send them a targeted digital ad campaign, use email marketing, or even push relevant social media posts their way. No matter your chosen method, the key is to nudge not push. After all, the next step after a nudge is to nurture.
Put It All Together With A Little Bit Of Nurturing TLC
Cold calling elicits a feeling of He Who Shall Not Be Named. (Apologies for the pop culture heavy references, but they do serve their purpose). Tangents aside, after you have nudged your leads into the sales funnel, it will be time to nurture them with a bit of TLC. The sales journey should not become abrupt with careless messages that are not uniquely tailored to meet the specific needs of your leads. Instead, you want to nurture the relationships so that you can ensure a customized buyer's journey every step of the way.
Ask questions, analyze the answers, develop intuitive audience personas, and when it is all said and done create case studies so that you can fine tune the process. Understanding your leads can be a time-consuming process that is well worth it when they become avid customers. However, for as great as hand-holding is, there is a time and place for automation. A lead generation and sales automation software can help you to make sure that cold calling stays out of your office as you pivot with the times and understand that research, nudges, and good old-fashioned lead nurturing are the keys to successfully introducing your prospects to your company's sales funnel.
Cold Calling Has Given Way To Active Listening
In conclusion, if you want to succeed in attracting new leads, then you need to understand that cold calling has given way to active listening. You can and should research to better understand your leads. Nudging your warm leads into the sales funnel is a much better approach than simply pushing them into an onslaught of generic messages. Finally, nurturing is the way of the future and it requires you to actively listen as you put together a customized lead engagement and marketing approach for each lead. The results are not only better, they are longer lasting, they lead to positive relationships, and they will increase sales year-over-year.