A recent survey of B2B marketers shows that even with the increase of social media and online marketing, cold-calling remains prominent as a component of business-to-business lead generation strategies. In fact, a staggering ninety percent of best-in-class marketers, identified as marketers who can accurately tie ROI to their lead generation programs and are satisfied with their overall results and approach, utilize cold-calling.
Why the popularity? Cold calling is one of the few marketing tactics focused on proactively initiating two-way conversations with decision-makers. When executed well, these conversations lay the foundation for long-term business relationships.
Below are six tips to ensure a well executed and successful cold calling approach:
- Clearly define lead criteria. You’ve likely heard the saying, “If you throw enough stuff at the wall, something is bound to stick.” While this may be true, it’s not a wise strategy when providing leads to your sales organization. Instead, we advise marketing managers to meet with their sales counterparts and jointly determine the criteria for qualified leads. These criteria should go beyond “B.A.N.T”: budget, authority, need and timeframe. Think two-steps ahead, and delve into information that will be valuable in the sales follow-up process such as current infrastructure, competitive landscaping, decision-making steps, etc.
- Set an agenda to guide your conversation. Verbatim scripts cannot start a real conversation. However, a call without clear direction will also fail. The solution is to create a conversation guide. Guides that equip callers should include key messages as well as pertinent open-ended questions to engage the prospect in a natural back and forth discussion.
- Be relevant. Effective cold-calling should be tailored to a specific audience. As you prepare your approach, ask yourself two questions: “What is the reason for this call?” and “Is it relevant to the target prospects?”
- Create a voicemail strategy. A voicemail message acts as a mini-advertisement to prospects. A relevant message – touching on common critical business issues – will “warm up” cold calls and lead to a more productive and successful dialogue once your caller and your prospect actually connect. Take time to craft your voicemail strategy before you launch your campaign.
- Integrate multimedia. Cold-calling tactics benefit from the use of multimedia content. In particular, whitepapers, webinars, and social media elements provide value to the target prospects and, in many cases, offer a logical “next step” after a successful conversation.
- Don’t give up too soon. If you are giving up after attempting your prospects only three or four times, you are not maximizing the potential from your database. B2B cold-calling statistics illustrate that, on average, it requires more than five attempts to initiate a conversation with a decision-maker or influencer. Furthermore, the average number of attempts before the point of diminishing returns is over seven attempts (double that if targeting a C-level audience). If you have budget or time constraints and just can’t make enough attempts to reach the target contacts in your database, consider further refining your “sweet spot” and narrow your focus to optimize results.