On a daily basis, we repeatedly hit the delete button, send to spam, or simply ignore to get rid of unwanted solicitations, or e-mails. We do it every day. E-mails and the internet are steadily taking over the role of the dreaded cold-call, but is cold-calling truly dead? As a new-school marketer, I rely heavily on social media, creative tactics, and the internet, but I still believe, in my marketing heart of hearts, that picking up that old device, known as the telephone, is truly the best way to connect with a potential customer. I especially believe this if you are marketing to an industry who still might be a little old-fashioned, such as the manufacturing sector (just don’t tell them I said that).
Not only is the cold-call old school, but the smaller and more established the manufacturer, the more likely they do not have access to new-school social media, or barely have internet access. For these types of companies, cold calling might be the best and only way to reach out to some shops. Whichever industry you belong to, you need various footprints in order to be commercially successful. If you have been good and/or lucky enough to have built a business solely off of referrals, then the more power to you; however, at some point, you will need to have spoken with that company or individual. I do realize we now live in a heavily guarded society. People are much less accessible and willing to speak with a complete stranger, especially since useful information is out there for people to explore on their own time. There is a large sense that there is simply no need to speak with whoever is calling them during their limited free time. With that said, your cold-calling campaign and your sales team, need to be prepared and on top of their game.
There are a few key tactics you must have in order to be successful. In manufacturing, those keys are even more prevalent. First, you need to know who you are calling; in my experience with some previous companies, it was all about quantity over quality, touching as many people as possible, filling the funnel, etc. When you are looking for one, or maybe a select few individuals, having a targeted campaign is especially important. Once you finally have them on the phone, you will have a limited window to let them know why you are calling and, more importantly, why it is important to talk with you. Notice how I did not say “listen to you” because the most effective cold callers will allow the prospect to speak, whether it’s through shooting the breeze or asking fact-finding questions about who they are, what they have been doing, and all of their wants, needs and pains. Lastly, you need to give them incentive to listen further and take a next step in the process; this means you have to have a goal in mind. This does not necessarily mean a close, which can be confused here. Again, specific to manufacturing, the sales cycle is a long one and prospects certainly don’t need to be pushed or pulled in any direction.
One of the best lessons I was taught in my early cold-calling days is that you shouldn’t be asking them, initially, for the opportunity to earn their business; rather, you want to look for the opportunity to have a conversation with that person. Breaking down the manufacturing industry, once more, you are most likely going to be dealing with a blue collar worker. It could be a shop floor manager or the company president. The smaller the manufacturer, the more likely you are to be speaking to a principle or other ‘long-timer’ with an intimate knowledge of that company. If your message is not crisp, to the point and (most importantly) relevant, these folks will immediately pick you up as someone just casting as wide a net as possible – have something to say that is pertinent to this audience. Either way, these are proud people that, more than anyone, do not want to feel ‘sold’ and would be much more responsive to talking with someone who understands their line of work and can talk shop with them. Even in 2011, talking shop and cold-calling can still be great weapons in the sales war.Posted by Jason Rourke, Marketing Manager, ProfitKey International
¹In 6 Lead Generation Insights for 2007 by Mike Schultz RainToday.com