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Is Cold Calling Dead?

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Is cold calling dead?

In our previous blog post, “Lead Nurturing Revisited,” we kicked off our series on creating a successful lead nurturing program, and discussed why this is becoming the preferred way to attract and engage with buyers. In the posts that follow, we’ll go into detail, step by step, about how to build and maintain a successful lead nurturing program.

The post you’re reading now was originally intended to give an overview of the steps to design your program, but we were alerted by the Software Advice website to a blog post  from The B2B Marketing Mentor website that fit so well with what we talked about in “Lead Nurturing Revisited” that we’ve decided to feature it now as part of our series.

The B2B Marketing Mentor hosted a Google+ hangout (a way to have a multi-person video chat – read more about how this works here » ) featuring three demand generation experts giving their opinions on the subject:

  • Anneke Seley, Founder and CEO of Reality Works Group, helping companies develop successful inside sales teams
  • Mike Volpe, CMO of HubSpot, a marketing automation platform and champion of the term “inbound marketing”
  • Ken Krogue, President of InsideSales.com, a provider of CRM software tools

The hangout was moderated by Derek Singleton, Managing Editor for The B2B Marketing Mentor. They’ve posted the video online (it’s an engaging half-hour) as well as excerpts from the discussion and we think they’re well worth watching and reading.

We encourage you to visit this page now, and then come back here to get our impressions.

 

View the conversation, “Is Cold Calling Dead?” »

Spoiler Alert: Our thoughts

If you haven’t already viewed the conversation, then what we’re about to tell you will be less in context. At any rate, here are our two cents on the conversation.

Cold calling in the traditional sense is indeed out. Simply buying a list of phone numbers and calling people without first pre-qualifying them in some way is a good waste of your time (and that of the people you’re calling).

On the other hand, relying solely on inbound marketing, i.e. “if we build it (content on the internet) they will come” is not optimal either. While we firmly agree that many buyers today prefer to spend most of their buying cycles consuming content and information before engaging with a salesperson, there is a segment of buyers who prefer other modes of communication. Particularly, top executives at larger companies spend little time reading mass emails or checking social media. They prefer person-to-person communication to get information. The trick with them is to get their attention and willingness to talk with you. And actually, this should be no trick at all. You’ll get their attention by demonstrating that you can solve a real pain of theirs.

The bottom line is, how you engage with the buyer depends on the buyer. How does the buyer wish to be engaged? Some buyers prefer conducting their own internet searches and receiving email newsletters. Some prefer social media. We found it very interesting that those who receive an email within LinkedIn are supposedly seven times more likely to respond than to an ordinary email, and 30 times more likely to respond to a LinkedIn InMail. Still others prefer phone calls, online meetings or actual in-person communication (ever wonder why trade shows are still popular?).

We stated in our “Lead Nurturing Revisited” post that, “…we must first meet the buyer’s need for information about how to solve a particular problem. In essence, the buyer is first a prospect for information that can help him or her, and only later a prospect for the actual product or service you are offering.”

This is a concept we really like, and it changes the game for marketers. In the earlier stages of the buying cycle, we don’t market the product so much as we market information and content that buyers want. Later, we market our products and services directly, creating interest among those prospects that have a genuine need for what we are selling, identifying those prospects who are ready to buy, and introducing them to a salesperson when the buyer is ready.

But, we’ll add to this. We must not only give the buyers the information they want, but also in the way they wish to receive it. This may take more work on our part to understand individual buyer communication preferences. But it is by the very process of better understanding the buyer’s needs and preferences before we engage with him and her that we can make our first sales call a warm call, not a cold call.

In short, know your individual buyer before you pick up the phone. But by all means, pick up the phone when the buyer is ready.

So, we agree, cold calling is dead.

On the other hand, smart calling will always be alive and kicking.

We’ll pick up the lead nurturing discussion in the next post, which we’ll publish in late February. Stay tuned.

And here’s to the Marketing Champion in all of us. See you in the next post.

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