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As inbound marketers, we have a tendency to recoil at the thought of cold calling our prospects. Typically, we think of cold calling as a violation of inbound best practices — but let’s take a closer look at the definition of a cold call:
“An unsolicited call on someone, by telephone or in person, in an attempt to sell goods or services.”
That doesn’t mean that the person you’re calling has never heard of or expressed an interest in your product or service. It just means that they haven’t asked to be called by you.
Cold calling is not dead, and inbound marketers are doing it all the time. But in the age of inbound marketing, the way that we practice cold calling has evolved.
Buyers are now more empowered than they ever used to be; for the average B2B customer today, more than 70 percent of the buying decision occurs before speaking with a salesperson. That means that now, the buyer’s journey is a digital endeavor involving extensive research and independent problem-solving on the part of the consumer. And in order to market and sell your product successfully, you need to engage with your prospects in the same way that they’re engaging with you.
The good news is, it’s easy. We have so much more consumer information available to us these days; you can use social selling techniques to find a prospects name, phone number, job description, company, digital body language and more.
By doing your research and gaining this context prior to calling a prospect, you’re cold calling the right way. Some people have started to refer to this as “warm calling,” but at the end of the day, if they haven’t agreed to be called, it’s still technically a cold call.
Inbound Cold Calling: Research, Context, Outreach
Maybe you’re still not convinced. Perhaps you’re thinking of this HubSpot infographic, which says that 9 out of 10 B2B decision makers do not respond to cold outreach anymore.
But the same graphic says that almost three-fourths of buyers choose the first salesperson to provide value and insight, and that’s the key. Traditional cold calling is abrupt, invasive and often, occurs before a prospect has even heard of your brand. Traditional cold calling pushes for an immediate sale.
Conversely, inbound sales is all about adding value before extracting value. The aim of the initial contact should not be to sell your product or service, but to be helpful and to provide value.
If you’re operating in an inbound way, then you’ve probably identified through your research the persona of the person you’re calling and have some knowledge about their common pain points and challenges. When you get them on the phone, you should be able to immediately begin addressing those challenges and providing that value.
The most effective cold calling approaches involve delivering content to your prospects even before the initial call through things like email, social media and video. At New Breed, our outreach process involves sending out a personalized Vidyard GoVideo introducing our salespeople, so prospects can put a face to who they’re speaking with and think about whether or not it’s worth their time to take a call from us.
Based on the way prospects interact with your content, you can get a better understanding of which challenges and needs to address during the call. Look outside of your own content as well; you may be able to gain additional insight from a prospect’s interest in content from other brands too.
Cold Calling Isn’t Dead — It’s Just Evolved.
The bottom line: If you’re calling without context, then you’re wasting your own time as well.
Consumers today have an extremely negative, visceral reaction to having products jammed down their throat. By doing your research and outreach beforehand, you can align a prospect’s buying stage with your selling approach for a more relevant, meaningful conversation during the call.
Remember, at the heart of inbound marketing is a genuine desire to be helpful, human and holistic. It’s time to reinvent the way that you practice cold calling to provide more value to your prospects and, ultimately, more success for your business.
Guido is Head of Product and Growth Strategy for New Breed. He specializes in running in-depth demand generation programs internally while assisting account managers in running them for our clients.