February 20

7 tips to improve your cold calling and lead generation

Inside Sales

19  comments

In spite of the fact that in the past pushy salespeople and poorly trained marketers have tarnished the image of the phone, I still believe that smart cold calling is still a very useful lead generation tool.

Studies by leading marketing research firms like MarketingSherpa show that 92% of B2B buyers are open to cold calls if the salesperson is relevant.

However, to ensure success, cold-calling needs to be part of a holistic lead generation strategy.

How to Get Started Cold Calling the right way

To use phone calls as an effective lead generation strategy, I recommend you create a specialized sales development rep position within the sales or marketing group.

Make sure that Picking up the phone to cold callyour cold-calling connects to your other ongoing marketing and brand-building activities.

Prospecting must be smart, articulate, engaging and organized.

The phone is the human touch of your lead nurturing program, and thus every opportunity including cold calling to a potential customer should be treated with great respect.

Each time you pick up the phone, whether it be the first call or subsequent calls, it’s important to create value by giving your prospects useful information in digestible, bite-size chunks.

7 steps to improve your cold calling results.

Step 1: Sustain the calling.

Be in it for the long haul. Calling works best if it’s long-term and consistent.

And don’t pressure your prospects to make a decision on the first call because most calls will require lead nurturing.

Take your time and follow-up with more information. Listen to what they’re asking and if you don’t know the answer, let them know that and follow up again with them to provide them the answer

Step 2: Make every call count 

You should never terminate a call upon hearing the targeted individual is not available. Each touch builds an impression.

Imagine taking the time to be helpful to the assistant or updating and verifying your database by working to share information for this source.

Always ask if there is an alternative decision-maker available as well.

Email marketingStep 3: Throw away the scripts use call guides instead

Telemarketers use scripts. You should use sales development to use a call guide.

Why? Because scripts leave little room for conversation.

Call guides give you a clear outline to have a conversation and areas to be discussed and questions to be asked.

They must be built with flexibility and assume variable outcomes while still staying on message and promoting key relevancies to the customer.

Step 4: Respect Executive Assistants

Don’t view the EA as a barrier to initiating dialogue. Administrative assistants can occupy a significant place in the sphere of influence, not to mention the boss’s ear.

Don’t treat them as lesser and don’t be afraid to develop a relationship with people titled “assistant.”

Step 5: Always be relevant and über-informed

When you’re making a call, the worst thing you can do is to call someone and know nothing about them.

You must have a sound working knowledge of each potential customer and the company and most importantly, the issues they face and how your product can help solve them.

This personal interest goes a long way in establishing a meaningful dialogue.

Check out Lead Generation: Does your teleprospecting deliver value to prospects?

You may also like Growing B2B Sales with Trust and Empathy

Step 6: Gain opt-in from each contact

When you are speaking with a prospect, it is proactive to request permission to e-mail following helpful information.

More often than not, the answer will be in the affirmative, which provides another building block for staying in touch.

Read Stop Cold Calling and Start Lead Nurturing

Step 7: Always follow-up to nurture

It is crucial that you follow up in a way that is precise concerning promptness and relevancy toward your prospect’s needs.

Keep in mind when you follow up that you also need to ensure you do so in the manner requested. If they decline a follow-up phone call but ask you to email them then make certain you do so.

Teleprospecting is a much more rewarding way to reach out and initiate contact with prospective clients. By providing engaging and meaningful conversation, you are also building the bridge to a much longer relationship.

In sales, always think about building a bridge and taking another step toward a client/customer relationship.

Check out 7 prospecting rules that produce leads

You may also like this post by Mark Hunter on 10 Keys to Prospecting Success.

10 Lead Generation (Prospecting) Tips for Sales People

Stop Cold Calling and Start Lead Nurturing

Combine Your Cold Calling Efforts With Email Marketing

3 Principles for Effective Teleprospecting that Drove an 839% Increase in Leads

Getting Sales Enablement Right to Increase

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. #’s 3 and 7 I think are the most important…I still find it hard to believe that anyone in sales would still use a script or not do follow-up! Thanks for the tips.

  2. Brian,
    It’s an interesting post and the shift in cold calling seems to be similar to the shift in other areas; especially if you think of cold calling as another media type in the overall marketing universe.

    The shift to relationship building, educating, maintaining permission to keep the conversation going, and long term nurturing is a trend that is consistent across so many areas of marketing. Thanks for highlighting the same shift in the calling arena.

  3. Nice tips, Brain! It seemed to me that the proposed way of working and doing is essentially the same as in my pre-computer days, where the cellphone had to be invented yet. I was put in a car and had to visit prospects and customers without an appointment. My former salesmanager thought me the very same way of working and doing. You have to have persistance, a thick skin, stay polite at all times, as well as being very receptive to the customer needs and wishes. Speaking is silver, listening is gold. Ask questions instead of making a product pitch. Last but not least, always do what you have promised! Doing it by phone is in fact using this tool where it is meant for; saving travellingcosts and time!

  4. Hello Brian.

    I really like your blog and take as one base to develope my knowledge arround lead generation in B2B. According to your blog above (“Seven tips for improving cold calling for lead generation”) I have one questions, what is an avg. (may be a good) converstion rate for call/appointments? The calls were done be telemarketing agency.

    Thanks for your anwser.

    Best regards from Germany.
    Jens Peter

  5. Brian, I completely agree with what you have said. In fact, I have been consulting some of my customers on their telemarketing initiatives and I advise them on some of what you have written.

    In fact, I did a post on telemarketing insights in my blog, which is available at http://www.djargon.com/blog/telemarketing-insights.html

    I firmly believe that telemarketing has to be a part of the holistic lead generation strategy and it cannot be done as the only way to generating leads, especially in a B2B scenario.

    Best,

    Saba.

  6. Thanks for the tips. I’d agree that replacing scripts for a more flexible approach is hugely important.

  7. These are some really great tips! Another great tip I’ve learned is practice. When a sales opportunity presents itself, it’s time to practice. Based on the industry for which you will be meeting, make a list of questions, potential challenges and possible solutions. Keep in mind that every situation is unique, but there are always similarities. Practice does make perfect, and can create the perfect sale. Find more at http://www.top1percentclub.com.

  8. Those are really very wonderful tips. Telemarketing is one of the simplest form to promote business but it has to be done properly and professionally in order to be effective.

  9. Thank you for great cold calling tips.

    I agree that cold calling is still the best way to get new business,

    I do cold calling almost everyday, an make about 20-30 productive calls (where I speak to right person) and out of this I get 4-5 booked meetings a week, and 5-10 that wants me to call them back later, 5-10 that is interested and wants me to send info to them. So do those who believe Cold Calling is waiste of time, guess what it’s NOT!! but in order for it to work I have prospect list ready, I have found the name of the person i need to talk to, and I ask leading questions. these are keys to make it work, plus I always have a simile when I call, nothing is better then when you are able to make your prospect smile, then you are at good position to get an appointment. and one the most important things to remember is that your main goal with the call is to get an appointments, once you have appointment that is when you really start selling,
    Good luck everyone out there, and if you “cold call” the right way, you will have success 🙂

    K

  10. Great advice! My friend Bob Etherington has written a very successfull book on cold calling called “cold calling for chickens”

    You can see Bob give some quality sales advice in this 30 second video – Pure gold, no matter how good you are!

  11. Thanks for some great tips! Thank you so much. I have sent out a lot of cold call emails and had very few responses. I’m going to try your tips.

  12. These are some great tips @Brian, Especially the 3rd advice because usually people have a script and follow it up. Even I was doing the same mistake, I will change my approach from now on.

    Thank you for the post

  13. I really liked how you said not to be afraid to develop a relationship with people titled “assistant” because they’re people too. The more recognized an employee feels the more they’ll want to do. I’m going to make sure that I know all of my co-workers.

  14. I love that you touched on how you need to be pretty consistent with cold-calling so that you are finally successful. My brother is starting a new business soon that is going to be doing a lot of calls. He needs to get an answering system built as well so that he can help more customers.

  15. Building leads from cold calls require persistence and professional manners. Doing proper follow-ups will also boost the conversion. There are great tips in this article!

  16. Big question: how do you “cold approach” a business in person? Do you just ask for the person your looking for and just go for it or what?

  17. Hi Brian,

    Nice article on cold calling. Loved the way you put out the tips, easy to understand. Thanks for sharing.

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