Cold Calling Alternatives for B2B Outbound Sales
What is good and evil? Can you cry underwater? How long do fish wait to swim after they eat? These age old questions have staggered humanity for centuries, but the question that paralyzes many sales development representatives today is whether cold calling is dead or not.
There is a myriad of research pointing towards the idea that cold calling may indeed be left behind soon enough. Whether it completely disappears is up for debate, but what is clear in many sales leaders minds is that it will start taking a lesser stage to other prospecting methodologies and lead generation strategies.
The following list explores a number of alternatives to cold calling that will help you go above and beyond your sales targets for the coming year. Many of these methodologies overlap and enable synergies with each other to maximise these strategies.
In contrast to cold calling, warm calling involves making a network connection with a prospect before calling them. This historically occurs through a personal referral, but is increasingly effective over a social media communication such as Linkedin. If one looks at the 1% success rate of cold calling versus the 30% success rate of warm calling, it is clear that it is a more efficient methodology for your SDR ́s to be using. The fact that sales development representatives are 4.2X more likely to gain an appointment if they already have a personal connection with the buyer, could be one of many other reasons for why warm calling is far more effective. Warm calling can also occur after engaging with a piece of content that a prospect has posted or shared.
Social selling involves developing relationships through the sales process by interacting directly or sharing content with potential customers through channels such as social media. A number of strategies exist within this lead generation strategy. Namely, joining groups on Linkedin or Facebook that are specialised in something relevant to your target customers can be useful places to engage with new leads. Answering questions from others using your experience, passion and expertise from within the business is a good way to generate interest which can then be followed up with a sales-focused interaction later on in a less forced manner. Hosting webinars is also a good method to share knowledge to people that might be interested in your solution and creating connections to them.
Writing a blog and other relevant content can also be used to portray the overlap between the value you can provide and the pain and opportunities that your prospects are facing. Even sharing relevant blog posts or articles found from other sources that highlight these factors can be successful in building credibility and engagement. Additionally, using social listening through tools such as Google alerts or Sales Navigator, one can set up notifications to be alerted when a prospect posts something relevant or experiences a pertinent change. Therefore instead of an out of context cold-call, one can engage with what the prospect has posted in an honest manner to generate a connection before the sales outreach occurs.
As aforementioned, Linkedin can be a great way to create a personal connection to a buyer before calling them. However, it is also extremely effective at growing a network audience. Tools such as Linkedin Sales Navigator are very efficient at finding leads that fit your ideal customer profile and maximising your mutual connections to gain access to high-level decision makers. A recent statistic found that 90% of B2B decision makers don’t respond to cold calls anymore, however our research indicates that response rates from messages on Linkedin are upwards of 50%, with follow up messages increasing this value. In addition, these messages give space to personalisation from research on the prospect and their company, information which often gets lost in a shaky cold call.
Linkedin message and connect request (our research indicates a 40% acceptance rate) take far less time than a cold call, never mind the morale loss which often occurs in a harsh phone rejection. Content sharing can also be done on Linkedin either to generate inbound leads or to create organic interactions with your target leads that are already part of your network. This type of “thought leadership” is an increasingly common methodology for salespeople to prospect new leads.
Can you remember the last time you opened or let alone sent a letter? Maybe not, either way there are some examples of successful campaigns that involve direct letters or “snail mail”. A benefit of this approach is the space for personalisation that it enables. Moreover, a small cheap gift added alongside the letter can actually be worth the cost if adjusted to the current lead and customer acquisition costs.
Email campaigns which provide relevant information to your inbound that doesn ́t centre around your product, can be a great way to engage prospects. Furthermore, providing email content that is not simply a meeting request or a sales pitch is an effective way to generate engagement from your leads that might be inactive or difficult to reach otherwise. Moreover, tracking your web visitors behaviour can help to understand when is the right time to contact an inbound lead with a target message or outreach. However, it is important to note that in Europe, opt-in is necessary from your prospects due to GDPR regulations.
84% of B2B leaders start their individual buying journeys through referrals, and nearly 3 out of 4 business executives have said that they prefer to work with sales professionals that have been referred by a network connection. Asking your most loyal customers for referrals to people they know might benefit from your solution can be very successful. These types of channel partners and multipliers can be essential, especially for smaller companies, to scale effectively. Once again this is something that can be capitalised upon with Linkedin due to the capability of observing the mutual connections of your networks to your target leads. Direct requests for referrals are also efficiently sent through email or Linkedin rather than carried out through calling. Not only can referrals be found in the existing customer base, but leads can be generated through coaches, consultants and even through the clients of a company’s IT service providers.
Apart from networking through social media, there are a myriad of networking events happening for almost any industry and region where there are significant opportunities to prospect for decision makers. These may be fairs, exhibitions or conferences as well as events particularly oriented towards networking. The admission costs of such events are often worth the amount of leads a salesperson can generate at them if the right event is chosen.
If you are curious to understand why it is important for salespeople to look at new alternatives to cold calling, give a quick read to the following article: 10 Statistics Proving Cold Calling is Dead