It is no secret that many businesses took a hit in 2020, courtesy of an unforgiving global pandemic. With the development of a vaccine for COVID 19 and more countries slowly relaxing stringent mitigation measures, things may finally be turning around. Even then, businesses must hit the ground running to increase their market share and jumpstart sales.
One of the strategies that businesses may re-evaluate in 2021 is cold calling. Cold calling is a form of outbound marketing that involves a salesperson soliciting customers with whom he has had no prior communication or relationship in the hope of laying the groundwork for a meeting or possibly selling them a product or a service. In the old days, this was mostly done over the phone or through door-to-door marketing. Cold calling was wildly successful in the 1980’s-mid 1990s, and it is safe to say that most big businesses today have this strategy to thank for their customer bases.
Towards the late 1990s, however, the premise of cold calling started a steady decline. Customers felt harassed by nuisance phone calls, not to mention an infiltration of the market by fraudsters. In 2003, the National Do Not Call Registry (DNC) was established to protect consumers from relentless telemarketing calls. However, it was the advent of the internet that completely turned things around, fueling the belief that cold calling may as well be dead.
So, Is There a Business Case for Cold Calling in 2021?
Contrary to popular opinion, cold calling is still a valuable marketing avenue for businesses if leveraged correctly. However, the aspect of cold calling that involves getting on the phone and calling a complete stranger in the hope of doing business with them is no longer tenable.
In part, people now have the power to reject calls they don’t want, sending numbers they don’t recognize direct to voicemail.
The other part of the argument is that buyer behavior has changed tremendously. Armed with a smartphone and an internet connection, consumers can look up products they want, compare prices, read reviews, and plan to make a purchase, all without speaking to a soul. Research shows that presently, about 70% of a buyer’s journey takes place online. Such consumer empowerment has put cold calling, a previously successful marketing strategy, at a crossroads. Today’s buyers are young, tech-savvy, impatient, and used to different commutating methods, other than phone calls. This indicates that there is no much future for hard cold calling as it was in the 1990s.
What, then, is the way forward? Can businesses still benefit from cold calling in the digital era? We venture to say that yes, businesses can still benefit from this strategy if it is combined with other marketing methods and leveraged correctly.
What are Some of the Best Practices for Cold Calling in 2021?
As seen, cold calling in its original form will not work for your business in 2021. And this does not only refer to phone calls but to the digital equivalent- cold emails, social media solicitations, and unscheduled drop-ins. You may then be wondering if it is still worth the trouble, given the foregoing.
When used as part of a holistic marketing strategy, cold calling can be highly beneficial. This is particularly true during these challenging times when sales have been hard to come by. You want to ensure that you position yourself strategically so that customers know you are available to solve the problems they are grappling with.
Here are some strategies that your business should consider employing to leverage cold calling:
Use data/tracking to learn about prospective customers
With the slew of available information on the internet, there is no excuse for making truly ‘cold’ calls to prospective customers. Within data laws, you can easily track who visited your website and what product/service they were looking at. You can also tell whether they took any action, such as asking a question or leaving a comment. Answering this question, replying to their comment, or asking them about an article they read on your site can give you an authentic connection and a platform on which to start a relationship.
Take time to understand what problems/ issues you can solve for your prospects
Imagine that a prospective lead just accepted your connection request on LinkedIn. You bombard them with offers for products or services immediately, and you even go ahead to request a meeting. This approach is likely to strain the relationship even before it starts. Similarly, sending hundreds of emails to random customers without any basis of whether they are interested or not is unlikely to yield any results. For a more meaningful business relationship, take time to understand the prospects’ pain points, what they/their business is struggling with, and position yourself to solve these problems.
Offer something valuable to customers before you ask anything of them
As mentioned above, a prospective customer may be turned off if you immediately ask them to make a purchase or share their contact information. This may indicate that you only care about making a sale. A more foolproof way of attracting them is by offering something they find valuable. This could be a free guide on how to use your product, a blog post on its benefits, a coupon, or answering questions they may have in your area of expertise. Customers who find your brand useful will be more open to sharing their email address or phone number, effectively giving you a way in.
There is quite a debate surrounding cold calling and its effectiveness, particularly in 2021. Some marketers believe that it is dead and should be forgotten, while others argue that it is alive and well. Either way, with the right mix of technology and strategies in place, cold calling can be a valuable tool for generating sales leads, particularly at such unprecedented times. Visit saleshive.com and learn how you can take advantage of effective cold calling strategies to set up high-opportunity sales meetings.