Can you guess what two words strike fear and loathing in most sales people I know?
Cold calling. That’s why I’d like to share with you why I believe cold calls are an important part of the sales mix, and two words you can even learn to love.
Let me back up to a key finding in a study titled, “Inside the Mind of the B to B Buyer.” It reveals that buyers report that more 80 percent of the purchases they make result from contacts with sellers that they initiate themselves. Which leaves only 20 percent of purchases to have originated from a cold call.
I bet you’re thinking, “Gotcha, my point exactly.”
Personally I’m not sure that the 80 percent is accurate. But that’s really beside the point. No matter how successful the marketing department is at your company, there will almost always be a gap between the number of qualified prospects in your pipeline generated from inbound leads and the number of prospects you need to meet your quota. This gap is your lead deficit.
So, even if you achieve 80 percent of your sales goal from qualified in-bound sales leads, you still have a lead deficit of 20 percent. You’ll need to close this deficit from outbound prospecting—otherwise known as cold calling – in order to make your numbers.
Making your numbers means spending a portion of every day following a disciplined cold calling prospecting process. Researching targets, making connections online, on the phone, at events, and in people’s offices. Figure out what works best for you and go for it.
Years ago, in the pre-Internet Dark Ages, I sold big computers. Everyday my boss kicked me out of the office at 8 a.m. and I ventured out to make cold calls. Cold calling didn’t come naturally to me, so I developed my own approach. I hosted a system demonstration in our local office every Wednesday at 4 pm. I researched names of potential prospects and mailed out 10 hand-written postcard invitations every Thursday. I’d follow up with everyone the following Monday morning and again on the morning of the seminar.
Typically, I’d end up with one or two new potential prospects each week. Within months I had a strong, constantly renewing pipeline and was crushing my numbers. After a couple of years, I was getting two thirds of my business from existing accounts and referrals. But every Thursday, I still sent out 10 postcards and every Wednesday I hosted new prospects in the office.
So stop thinking of “cold calls” as two little dirty words, but instead as the key to making, if not actually exceeding, your numbers.