The Best Way to Make Cold Calling Work

Throughout Dunlap Marketing’s 22 years, there is one question we are very accustomed to hearing – what is the best way to make cold calling work? While this sounds like a simple question, it’s not always a simple answer.

The Best Way to Make Cold Calling Work

The truth is, cold calling absolutely works; however, as with any marketing campaign, cold calling works best when used in conjunction with other forms of marketing (ie: email, social media, etc.).

To dig deeper and to get more specific, cold calling works best with a strategic plan. Let’s play a quick game –

Would you rather spend your marketing dollars calling into random companies who may or may not (likely, not) be interested in your product / service OR would you rather spend that same money calling a customized list of companies who match your target prospects? I think I can guess your answer to this question.

Hungry for more on how to build a database?

How about this – would you rather spend money and time calling into prospects without a clear direction for your call OR would you rather spend time and money having productive conversations with prospects, always having a defined next step? Again, I’m going to assume you’d prefer the latter! And if not, why in the world are you wasting your time reading this article?!

Trying to figure out how to write a telemarketing script? We can help with that! 

In a nutshell, the two best ways to make cold calling work are to incorporate it as one component of a larger marketing campaign and to approach it with a strategic plan.

For more information, please reach out to Dunlap Marketing.

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Mike Dunlap – miked@dunlapmarketing.com – 281.496.9870 x. 140

Kaitlin Dunlap Cuevas – kaitlind@dunlapmarketing.com – 281.496.9870 x. 180

How to Write Quality Notes While Teleprospecting

 

[We] were just discussing how invaluable your team’s discussion notes were to understanding what’s going on with our target attendees. Very insightful. – Rebecca, Los Angeles, CA

 

Knowing how to write quality notes while teleprospecting is a necessary skill required to achieve positive outcomes from your calling efforts. Frankly, cold calling is a waste of time if notes documenting the conversations are not a factor. If you have a list of 1,000 prospects to call, how can you expect to remember the conversation you had with Mr. Smith at 123.456.7890? It’s nearly impossible!

The good news is if you keep the following tips in mind, it’s simple to take useful notes while teleprospecting.

How to Write Quality Notes While Teleprospecting

Brief, yet thorough

Remember that these are notes; therefore, they do not need to be overly extensive. Keep them brief and to the point. To help make sure you don’t leave out any pertinent information, keep in mind the 5 W’s and 1H – who, what, when, where, why, and how. For example:

  1. Who did you speak to / who do you need to speak with next time / who is the decision maker
  2. What did you speak about / what are your next steps (ie: follow up call, send email with more information, etc.)
  3. When did you call / when is a good time to reach the decision maker / when did the decision maker ask you to call back
  4. Where is the decision maker located (important to note time zones when a follow up call will occur) / if a face-to-face appointment was scheduled, where are you meeting
  5. Why was the prospect interested in your product or service
  6. How did the prospect sound – very interested or somewhat interested? This can be defined as a hot, warm, or cold lead, depending on interest level

Easy to read

While reviewing notes, it is easier to read short blurbs or bulleted lists as compared to long paragraphs. The eyes can quickly skim when the information is spaced out. This is not the time to see how many words you can fit on one piece of paper!

Quick to write down/capture

Shorthand is a great tool to use while taking notes. Dunlap Marketing’s president, Mike Dunlap, is a fan of using shorthand and frequently uses it himself. Here is his shorthand key:

  • TT – talked to
  • SIT – still in touch
  • CB – call back
  • TA – try again
  • LVM – left voicemail
  • DM – decision maker

Need to “spark” your memory

The bottom line is your notes need to be able to jog your memory or inform the person you’re passing them along to of the conversation you had. They also need to clearly state what the appropriate next steps are.

Don’t waste the time you dedicate to cold calling – take quality notes to make sure you achieve the best possible outcome of your teleprospecting efforts.

The Difference Between Qualified Leads

As a sales professional, the origin of a lead is important to know, especially when establishing expectation for a lead. Lead generation is not a cookie-cutter process and because of this, all leads are not equal. Understanding the difference between qualified leads helps to properly layout your sales strategy for each individual opportunity as you advance it through the sales process.

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The Origin of Leads

First, let’s look at common ways leads come to life:

  1. Referral/word-of-mouth
  2. Online research (i.e.: website, SEO, PPC)
  3. Social media
  4. Self-generated (i.e.: cold calling, telemarketing, email or mail campaigns)

Commonly, sales people will look at each of these avenues of lead generation as equal, or very similar. Therefore, a sales person will subconsciously assign the same level of expectation and approach to all leads, no matter its origin.  With this mindset, some leads will fall short of expectation, no matter how good they are. Additionally, leads run the risk of dying if opportunities are not properly planned and nurtured.

The Difference Between Qualified Leads

How are leads different?  In the broadest perspective, there are two forms of lead generation:

  1. Buyer-generated: Created by the potential buyer, reaching out in an effort to find a solution
  2. Seller-generated: Created by the seller, reaching out to identify potential buyers

Buyer-Generated Leads

Selling opportunities created by the buyer are usually the most qualified and advance through the sales cycle faster than seller-generated leads. This can be attributed to the fact that the buyer has a need and is looking for a solution; the need is creating enough pain that the buyer starts actively looking for a company who can solve the problem.  Not much legwork, such as cold calling and other telemarketing efforts, is required of the sales person up to this point.  From a typical sales person’s expectation, these are the best kind of leads to receive.

However, downsides exist. Commonly, there are not enough buyer-generated leads to satisfy sales quotas and sales people have little control on generating a volume of them (referral or word-of-mouth). Also, they can become expensive to produce (online and social media advertising).  Ultimately, in most business-to-business situations, there are not enough of these leads to fully distribute to and satisfy a whole sales team – certainly not enough to achieve overall company sales success.

Seller-Generated Leads

Selling opportunities created through seller-generation usually occur when a sales person initiates activity that stimulates conversation (i.e.: cold calling, telemarketing, email or mail campaigns) with a prospective company. Conversation usually starts with probing-type questions.  If you are lucky and the timing is right, good questions become the start of a new lead opportunity. In this situation, similarly to buyer-generated leads, your Q&A session will coincide with an existing pain the prospect might be dealing with; however, this is the exception, not the rule.

Read more about how to write a telemarketing script.

More frequently, you will stimulate a level of interest. But, timing is dependent upon many less controllable factors such as being inside an existing agreement term, the need for the prospect to research new solutions, or the prospect having to decide if making a change to your solution is worth the effort.

The Journey

It is important to recognize the point in a prospect’s journey where you, as the seller, get involved. With seller-generated leads, the journey begins when the prospect expresses a level of pain associated with their current solution.  With buyer-generated leads, the journey is well underway by the time the sales person gets involved.  Understanding your point of entry will help guide you into setting proper time lines, expectations, and upcoming sales strategy.

A seller-generated lead can feel colder early on because the buyer is at an earlier stage in the journey; however, when properly nurtured, the selling opportunity becomes more valuable.  During this development, you start building a relationship with the prospect, which ultimately becomes an advantage for you.  Frequently, seller-generated leads have fewer competitors involved.

In Summary

Expressing a level of pain by the prospect and the action you take to resolve this pain can take time and sales skill to advance.  Because of this, it is important to apply a fair expectation on each, as the value of each opportunity is different and the amount of time and work involved with each opportunity varies.  The close rate of buyer-generated leads is higher than seller-generated leads; however, there is a finite number of buyer-generated leads available and that number is not enough to satisfy company sales goals in most business-to-business environments.  This is the point where it becomes important to realize the value of seller-generated lead generation.  In most organizations, sales professionals should also maintain an adequate number of these leads inside the sales funnel.

In almost any instance, a proper balance of buyer-generated and seller-generated leads are required for a company to be successful and exceed sales goals. With both types of leads inside the sales funnel, always remember the difference between qualified leads.

For more information on this topic, please contact Mike Dunlap at miked@dunlapmarketing.com.

 

Getting Your Telemarketing Campaign Started

ARTICLE #4 IN A 6 ARTICLE SERIES

feet running

When you sign up for a marathon, or any athletic event, there is a lot of planning that goes into training and the day of the event. While the planning is necessary and will help your marathon go smoothly, there is one fact: the only way to cross the finish line is by taking one step at a time. When doing appointment setting and lead generation, the same approach holds true.

This “one step at a time” principle can be used in many different aspects of work. Similar to running a marathon, looking at a prospect list that needs to be called can seem like a difficult task to complete. However, if you make one call at a time you will eventually get through your list and cross the finish line!

Making cold calls is not what someone puts first on their “to do” list. Human nature usually drives people to do everything else on their list before making telemarketing calls. Commonly, they hope that time runs out before they have to make the calls. Or, they hope their boss assigns them other work before they have to get on the phone. This type of behavior is exactly why many call projects either never get started or they are started, but are never completed.

When assigned the task of telemarketing, try to designate specific times of day to make these calls. Treat the assignment like it’s an appointment. Everyone is willing to stop what they are doing to honor an appointment. Schedule specific blocks of time in your calendar each day, over an extended period of time. Each block of time should be approximately two hours long. Additionally, set reasonable and measurable expectations, such as:

  • Number of calls made
  • Number of actionable events identified
  • Number of appointments set

Two-hour segments each day is enough to settle into a rhythm, but not so much time that someone gets burned out. Two hours per day over four or five days per week results in 32-40 calling hours per month. This much time will typically yield very positive results and selling opportunities.

Do not let yourself get stuck on trying to make the telemarketing campaign perfect before going live with your calls, as this is rarely possible. If you seek perfection, there is a good chance the calls will never get started. Accept that there might be shortcomings (ie: possible unexpected questions, questions you don’t have answers to, missing contact names). This is okay, but if you have followed steps 1, 2 & 3 there is a good chance you are prepared to start calling. You can refine and optimize as you go. Keep in mind these calls simply get the sales process started; this should be your primary goal. There will be future steps as you advance through the sales process to address questions that you were unable to answer during your first calls.

When someone asks, “how do you run a marathon?” the answer is “one step at a time”. Now it’s time to pick up your phone and get your appointment setting and lead generation campaign started, “one call at a time”!

Stay tuned for our next article discussing follow up best practices.