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Cold calling has long been an essential tool of the B2B marketer. But with so many new ways of generating leads these days, why should we continue to bother with the phone?
Because despite the twin evils of universal voicemail and elusive decision makers, the telephone remains one of the most powerful and instantaneous lead generation tools there is. But there’s a right and a wrong way to prospect on the telephone. And what worked yesterday doesn’t necessarily work today.
Tell don’t sell
The fact is nobody likes being ‘sold’ to over the phone. So rule number one for any telemarketer is never to sell to a prospect unless they give you a firm indication that this is what they want. You can’t just pick up the phone and say, ‘Hi, do you want to buy my product?’ If you did, most people would get rid of you at the first gap in the conversation – if not sooner!
Instead the telephone should be used to build relationships. The days may be gone where you can expect to close the deal on the first call, but this doesn’t mean you can’t make a big impact. The trick is to give your prospect something BIG to think about after they’ve hung up.
But first you must develop rapport. You can have the world’s best offer, but if you fail to establish rapport with your customers, you’re wasting your time. Rapport is the rock on which successful telemarketing is built.
So how do you develop rapport?
In the first place, you must come across as warm and engaging. The more natural and relaxed you sound the more likely you are to put your prospect at their ease.
But rapport works at a deeper level than good manners and an engaging personality.
One of the quickest and most effective ways of establishing rapport with your prospects is to ‘mirror’ the volume and speed of their voice. This is a skill that anyone who sells on the telephone should practise and master. It works at a subliminal level to put your prospect at ease, because they ‘feel’ they’re talking to someone who is ‘like’ them.
So let’s say you’re now practised in form and delivery. What about the content?
Begin with a compelling headline
As with a good sales letter, a good cold call should grab attention, and it should do so before your prospect has had a chance to disengage. This means hitting them hard with the promise of a big benefit up front. You need to give them an instant and compelling reason for continuing with the conversation. Without a big benefit your job is going to be much harder. So give it some serious thought before you begin your telemarketing campaign. What’s your big benefit? If you don’t have one, then invent one.
Keep it clear and keep it simple. And before you begin calling decide on the aim of your campaign. For example, is it to promote a sale, build your opt-in database or to gather specific information? One of the most effective uses of the telephone is appointment setting. A single telephone conversation can open the door to a decision maker’s inner sanctum as if by magic. I see it happen every day!
Now watch the impact on your bottom line
Cold calling done well can give you an instant introduction into a company that can turn into a profitable relationship. Of course, not everyone is going to welcome you with open arms. But if your list is correctly targeted at decision makers who need your product, a sizeable minority of people will inevitably engage with you.
If you aren’t doing so already, consider making telemarketing a mainstay of your B2B marketing efforts. If you don’t have the in-house resources to run your own telemarketing operation, then hire a reputable outsourcing company to do it for you. You’ll be amazed by the impact on your bottom line.