Cold calling is when a salesperson makes an unsolicited call to a potential customer for the purpose of marketing. Cold calling is a traditional method of prospecting by sales professionals. Although in recent times cold calling is seen to have a success rate of 2%, many organizations still persist with it.
To be successful at cold calling, the sales professionals need to be persistent and should be able to take rejections. Also, success in cold calling entails hard work in terms of thorough research of the prospects and the market.
But the question is “Is all this handwork really worth it?”
The answer is a definite NO!
That is because of the impact of technology. Technology has completely transformed the buyer behavior and the traditional methods are no longer adequate to cater to the growing demands of the modern buyer!
Let us take a look at the modern buyer behavior:
The modern buyer is more aware of his needs. He now has easy access to information and he researches on the products or services he requires. He compares products/services of his interest on his own and takes a data-based decision. For the modern buyer, cold calls are unwelcome and he is not likely to be swayed by pushy salesmen.
Does this mean that the modern buyer does not interact with sales personnel at all?
This is not the case! On the contrary, the buyer looks for sales reps when he needs to resolve any queries he may have regarding the product or service.
Therefore, it would be safe to say that the role of the sales professionals, in the eyes of the buyer, has changed. And, the sales reps need to adapt to the changing needs of the buyers. They need to be available when the buyer wants them and with the information that the buyer seeks.
How can this be done?
It is possible by being active where your buyers are!
If we ask the question, “Where do the buyers seek information?”
The answer to this is that buyers seek information through company websites. And, buyers are most active on social media channels. Therefore, marketers need to connect with buyers online.
It has become almost imperative that sales reps create effective profiles on social media channels such as LinkedIn and connect with buyers.
They need to listen attentively to the buyers on these channels about what type of content they are sharing, what they are looking for, etc.
Sellers need to understand the buyer persona through these channels and strategize their marketing accordingly.
Since the buyers look for information, it is the responsibility of the sales team to coordinate with the marketing team and ensure that relevant content is created.
The sales team needs to share this content on the channels where their audience is active at the time when they are active.
Sales professionals need to establish themselves as an authority in their field so that the buyers will connect with them in case of any queries.
So, where does that leave cold calling?
Simply put cold calling is ineffective in the context of the modern buyer!
In the traditional marketing approach, the sales reps would list down potential buyers and make calls to them. There was a time when prospects entertained these calls to a certain extent. The reason was that this was one of the ways for them to gather information about a product or service. But, even at those times, it was difficult for sales professionals because they had to identify the right time to call and keep their fingers crossed that the prospect would be in a receptive mood.
However, there was hardly any other effective alternative. So, sales professionals had to make cold calls.
As technology advanced, there were ways of identifying the caller and the prospects avoided these calls unless they themselves felt the need to speak to a salesman.
But with the arrival of the digital era, the buyers could totally do away with cold calls as they are able to find out about the products or services of their interest on their own.
If not cold calling, what should sales reps do?
The market has become highly customer-centric. The sales reps need to provide the potential buyers personalized attention.
They need to understand the buyer persona and strategize their marketing accordingly.
Some of the effective ways of connecting with prospects in the digital age are:
Sending customized emails with a subject line that catches the attention of the buyer is one of the ways of connecting with the buyer.
Well-worded text messages sent personally to buyers are also found to be effective.
Social Media Marketing
Social media is one of the most powerful platforms to connect with buyers. This is corroborated by the fact nearly 42% of the total world population are social media users. And this number is only growing. (Emarsys 2019). Sharing relevant content and being responsive to the needs of the buyer is the need of the hour.
Today’s buyer seeks information. This could be on social channels, your website, etc. You need to share quality content on various channels to catch the attention of your buyers. You can share blogs, video blogs, social media posts, case studies, white papers, etc.
Your sales reps need to connect with buyers on social channels. Social selling implies networking with key decision makers through channels such as LinkedIn and selling your products. Data reveals that social sellers attract 45% more opportunities than their peers.
Although not exhaustive, these are some of the methods that can be adopted for effective marketing in the digital era.
Does a sales rep have to undertake all these responsibilities?
An organization needs to realize that since the demands on the sales team is growing, all these responsibilities cannot be fulfilled by just the sales team. The organization as a whole needs to devise a sales strategy that is aligned with the mission of the organization.
The sales and marketing teams need to work in tandem so as to make the sales strategy effective.
As we step into 2019, the marketing strategies need to adapt to the growing demands of the buyer. In the current scenario, the buyers prefer to connect with sales reps online rather than through cold calls. The methods of marketing have advanced and cold calling can now be seen as an obsolete method.