SALES TACTICS

Cold calling isn’t what it used to be. But don’t let anyone tell you that cold calling is dead. It has simply morphed into what I call “gold calling.” This process has proven to raise lead rates three times over for all sizes and types of companies.

The way most manufacturers generate leads now is a world away from the way they did it even a few years ago. It’s obvious to most companies that making blind cold calls to drum up significant business is a thing of the past. Instead, businesses use inbound marketing methods to get customers to come to them. If they are making an outbound effort, they use tools such as LinkedIn and Twitter to quickly research and mine for possible leads. So why are so many lead rates stagnating or even plummeting? 

Take advantage of the expensive trial-and-error lessons giant software companies have learned in the past 10 years. In general, these companies were first when it came to figuring out the balance between reliance on inbound and outbound marketing. While inbound marketing is important, manufacturers and distributors shouldn’t close the door on outbound tactics altogether. A well-run inbound program realistically delivers only 35 percent of the leads an enterprise needs.

Gold calling can be part of a systemic change that will add pipeline development, nurturing and segmentation of non-responsive accounts to dramatically ratchet those numbers right up to 100 percent for you. Caution: This is not an easy bandage that can be applied to a few salespeople; it’s a transformation that needs to come from the executive level in how marketing and sales are done at your company. 

There are three main differentiators in gold calling:

    1. Intelligent messaging: This means you have developed a clear, succinct message for a specific product or service you are selling. There is clarity across the company about what is being sold, what the target numbers are, what can be added to enhance the sale, what benefits will be touted to the lead, etc. Once the message is developed, it is further honed to each specific call. 
    For example, before making a call to a C-level executive, you build a persona based on that individual. Simply looking at a LinkedIn page might give you information that the prospect has a passion for mentoring. So when you make the call, you make sure to weave in the concept of mentoring along with the product’s benefit information. 
    2. Frequency and cadence: It’s never enough to leave one message. Two, three, four? Still not even halfway to sufficient. For gold calling to truly work its magic, you need a multi-touch, multimedia message campaign for each individual contact that gives them eight to 10 touches. Annoying, you might think? Clients say we have developed the proper cadence and messaging so the technique is not bothersome or irritating, but enough repetition that they eventually call or email us back.
    Unfortunately, most salespeople are not undertaking this. A Bridge Group study found sales executives said that they were following up on 80 percent of the leads they had. However, when researchers pursued that number further, they learned “following up” could mean as little as one phone call or e-mail. This is simply not enough, and it’s the primary reason so many leads end up in a black hole. 
    My favorite example of how frequency and cadence work is when my company left 42 voicemails and emails with a senior executive before we got a message back. “Don’t stop calling me,” he said. “You’re my conscience.” Five months later, the sale closed. 
    3. Take time to nurture: The buzzword for sales and marketing in 2015 will be nurture. Identifying pipeline and nurture accounts during lead qualification triples the return on sales and marketing investments. You aren’t blanketing a wide audience by sending out vague articles, then waiting for interested executives to call you. Nurturing is culling carefully through true potential customers and narrowing them to the few who have the need and means for your solution. 

From there, it’s a matter of developing an ongoing communication about how you can help. Remember frequency and cadence? How about intelligent messaging? Yes, this all goes into nurturing that lead. 

Whether it takes six months or six years, keeping in contact with fewer but more relevant executives will always be more profitable than haphazardly throwing a wide, messy net. You can learn a lot from a phone call. To delete your discoveries and start over each month is a waste. Instead of drumming up new monthly marketing campaigns that are distributed to your entire network, focus on individualized continuum marketing so that you’re building a story for yourself with each particular prospect. It takes more effort, but the payoffs are worth it. 

Gold calling works for everyone. We have made calls to literally every sized company in almost every industry you can think of. Gold calling, in combination with a spectacular internal process and diligent metrics, works across the board.

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