Cold Calling is NOT DEAD, but cold calling to decision makers IS! In fact, it has been for a very long time. So why are companies refusing to acknowledge the fact? At one time, it was an effective tool and therefore carried over as a tool into today’s business environment. The problem is, businesses are not operating the way they did in the past, even as short as two years ago, so why continue to embrace an old, old way of generating revenue? I will give that answer to you in this article.
A paradigm shift is happening in the business marketplace in how you engage a customer. Very few are adept at noticing the shift simply because of its subtlety. Customers are not going to tell you why they do not want to talk to you or respond, so I will. Today, to call a customer, you MUST earn the right to call. That right encumbers you to bring value, REAL VALUE, not sales rhetoric. You do not have the inalienable right as a salesperson to call on whomever you choose. Your right does not come from YOUR belief in your product or service to be the next great innovation must-have. Remember one thing: No one cares about your widget and what it can do, except you.
The only way you earn the right to call upon the decision maker is by referral or by their direct invitation. The referral can come from an internal or external contact. The biggest percentage of ROI success is by referral; not by picking up the phone and playing dialing for dollars. To have a referral you must have a relationship.
Cold Calling is reserved for obtaining referrals and your efforts should be in building relationships to gain those referrals rather than the drive-by-sale approach. With the top-tier talent in the market today, you need those people in front of the decision makers, not searching for them. An article I wrote discusses the pros and cons of this level of talent. So why do managers and companies still insist on doing it? Because it is the easiest to mandate and fastest way to show “mission accomplished” but at the same time, the least effective in closure. The other reason is human nature: “I did, my father did it and my grandfather did it.”
Referrals are an extremely valuable and volatile asset. This person has the potential to supply what would seem like an endless supply of business, but only if you cultivate the relationship in a proper, ethical process. They also have the potential ability to shut the faucet off just as fast as they turned it on. Those that will be your reference need to be cultivated and nurtured just as any other customer would. Do not expect to pick up the phone and ask for a referral if the last time you spoke was when the deal closed.
Referrals can come from not only customers, but also partners that see the value your product brings. To draw upon my marketing background, you want a PULL strategy where customers are asking for your product rather then you pushing it upon them. The only way to get this strategy to be effective is to show REAL value. The most effective of the 4Ps in marketing is using promotion and drawing upon publicity rather than advertising. People trust someone else endorsing products far better than any brochure or advertisement you can create. This all ties back to relationship selling. If you failed to build the relationships, how do you expect to obtain a referral? (Rhetorical question)
I will close out this article with one last comment about cold calling. I know this article is going to ruffle some feathers, but that is a good thing. My intention is to stir debate and foster an exchange of ideas; not create civil unrest. I realize people have had success using the cold calling method, but the return on your time and effort versus other methods (this article for instance!) is at the bottom of the ROI list. You can tell me about all the $$$ you have made, but my comment would be how much more $$$ could you have made?
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