March 12

Cold Calling Tips for the complex sale

Inside Sales


When used correctly, the phone is a powerful way to start and develop relationships.  Peter Davidson at the BeConnected blog pointed me to Kevin Stirtz’s post on cold calling.  Thanks Peter. 

Kevin Stirtz’s post, How to Make Cold Calling Work for Your Business, has some good points but – there is a better way.

Peter explains that we can use a bit of marketing ESP by combining our shared knowledge from various mediums such as email newsletters.

He writes, "One of the best ways to pre-qualify your leads is to work off a list of those contacts that have subscribed and clicked thru on the content of your email newsletter marketing efforts. Properly written and distributed an email marketing campaign can provide incredibly detailed information and customer intuition that will help your sales staff know what your customers are interested in."

Absolutely – we just need to be judicious with how we use that information.  Don’t say, "I wanted to speak to you about [topic they clicked on] because you clicked that link a dozens times."  I’ve received calls like that and it feels a bit… creepy. 

If you must cold call, how do make each call relevant?  How can your phone call be plus in that person’s day rather than another unwanted distraction?

I did a webcast with Jeff Thull on how to have relevant conversations with executives in mid-size to Fortune 500 companies.  Jeff is the author Mastering the Complex Sale® and The Prime Solution®. 

The challenge of cold calling is make sure each conversation we have is relevant and meaningful.  That’s what this webcast is about. 

My company uses Jeff’s approach for many of our lead generation programs and it works.  Why?  There’s no manipulation, pitches or trickery – it is simply about authentic communication.

Watch the webcast How to have relevant conversations with top executives (Executive Level Selling)

About the author 

Brian Carroll

Brian Carroll is the CEO and founder of markempa, helping companies to convert more customers with empathy-based marketing.

He is the author of the bestseller, Lead Generation for the Complex Sale and founded B2B Lead Roundtable LinkedIn Group with 20,301+ members.

  1. I work with a Hosted CRM application provider the focuses on the inside sales space ( Our entire application is build and designed to help sales reps (not telemarketers) effectively sell over the phone. This includes cold calling. I agree with the masses, cold calling is not fun. If done effectively, it can generate effective and somewhat cost effective leads. However, I have found that leads generated by cold calling are on average between 2x to 4x more expensive that a company or sales rep can generate via the web (if also done effectively). This is not the whole story though.

    An example:

    We have a customer that uses our system to power dial a list to generate leads. They were able to generate around 1 lead every 1.5 hours. Considering the cost of employees, systems and overhead, they were paying around $100/lead. From the web (using PPC, SEO, and lead providers) they were paying around $20/lead. This seems pretty strait forward, go with the web leads. What’s more, the cold call leads seemed to be less qualified than the web leads. The web leads generated actual buyers. The leads generated from cold calling identifying companies that were at the beginning of the interest cycle. Thus, in the short term the web leads closed better and seemed more effective. However, they saw an unexpected reversal of value in lead sources. Even though the web leads were smaller opportunities and they closed faster and more often. The leads generated from cold calling we very targeted to the industry and size that that worked for this customer. This customer began to close deals greater than the sum of the smaller deals that came from the web. So in the end, cold calling held its own compared to web leads.

  2. Hi Brian. Thanks for the mention. Just wanted to clarify on the comments. I agree with you and Peter that we’re better off if we pre-qualify as much as is reasonable. And certainly an email campaign as you suggest is a good starting point. However in Local Marketing (which is the focus of my blog) most businesses are targeting by geography (and a very small geography at that). Their market is 100% reachable by phone and maybe 20% reachable by email. As the ‘net evolves this ratio will change and a larger concentration of local businesses will be available through higher technology channels. Also, I believe many sales in a local marketing context tend to be less complex than what you’re describing so the qualifying process does not need to be as extensive.

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